This is an illustration I did for an essay by Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. The essay was about the author's visit to his family after coming out as gay, his boyfriend texting him the words, "Be humble" as he was about to meet with his family, his Midtown Manhattan subway rides, and his research for his book.
Above is the sketch the client and I decided on. It represents the author's conversation with the people he met on his journey. But this wasn't my first idea.
In the essay, the author described the 49th Street subway station he used as, "brick, glazed a garish orange-red that always has made me think of the flames of hell." He went on to describe how he felt each evening waiting for his train, fretting about his family as well as his conversations with his friends who were atheist.
So my first idea was to show him as a lone figure set against a hellish train pulling into the station. Other ideas I had related to the text sent by his boyfriend. But the client wanted a more positive image and asked me to send them a sketch about his conversations during his yearlong journey across America.
Below are ink and gouache elements I made to collage together in Photoshop to make the final art.