I was contacted out of the blue a few months ago (while in Austin shooting photos at Zilker Park, if you must know...) by the SHSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative office about doing an illustration for their upcoming annual summit. I had just finished the Big Top Sammy Family Weekend illustration and noticed that the dates coincided, so when I heard that the theme of the summit would be "Rise Above the Influence," I thought there might be a way to tie in the two.
That's how Sammy ended up on a tightrope.
The original idea was to have Sammy as an acrobat above a three ring circus with no net and "influence" items down below him.
However, as I got started sketching, I quickly realized that the circus theme didn't quite work for this and I kept seeing all these influences swirling below Sammy, just below him, tempting and threatening him. That idea became very stark in my mind, and that's the direction it went.
I'm very happy with the final product. It turned out almost exactly as I envisioned it in my head. And it was a lot of fun to work on, as well, creating dozens of swirls and spending more than an hour creating the lined, confusing, grungy darkness shape that appears to be closing in on Sammy from all sides. That Sammy is the only real color in the design isn't an accident, either. He represents hope and color where the bad influences represent evil and death and darkness.
Wow. Did I just write that? That's deep. Coffee must've kicked in.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this illustration and I hope that the 8th Annual Drug and Alcohol Summit at SHSU is a great success.