art direction,

Rihanna - Anti 

Our Favorite Illustrations of 2016

It was a long, crazy year and we are super thankful to have the visual power of illustration to help us make sense of it all. Here are some of our favorites of 2016:

Keith Negley, Is It OK For Boys To Cry?

Keith is wonderful at distilling complex ideas into simple, but emotionally nuanced imagery. And while this illustration seems simple, the open-ended narrative and quiet vulnerability hit me at an emotional center. -MR

Lilli Carre, Looking For Change for NPR Ed.

After spending years working on illustrations about education, Lilli just summed up the whole system so well in this one, simple concept. - LA

Kristen Uroda, Flip The Script 
(Invisibilia podcast art)

I can almost hear the collision of these two contrasting forces in the frame. It’s a powerful image that exudes momentum and stillness. -MR

Jeannie Phan, Hey Sci-Fi And Comic Fans: It’s Time To Embrace The Dark Side

This is one of those illustrations where a smart concept plays to multiple levels of interpretation. The illustration means one thing before you read the story, and another after reading it. -MR

Chris Kindred, Scoring Your Story for NPR Training.

Sound can be a tricky thing to represent visually, but this image hums! Part Fantasia, part science book art – I wish physics was taught alongside Chris’ illustrations. -LA

Sam Rowe, Original Thinkers for NPR Ed.

Sam’s concepts are always what strike me the most. The subtle twinkling and shooting stars make this one of my favorite GIFs of all time. -LA

Lost Stars

I’m a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds. 

-Mike Tyson

Yu-Ming Huang Illustration©

How We Did That: Grapefruit + Salt

GIF showing the process from sketch to final.

Joy Ho and I had a lot of fun working on the illustrations for this story about why some people eat salt on grapefruit (quick hint: it dates back to both World Wars). To be honest, neither of us like grapefruit. Its bitter acidity is a shock to unsuspecting tastebuds – sharp and overwhelming. The aftertaste is haunting. But, for the sake of science and this art, we hesitantly tried a few different grapefruits. Turns out, it is less horrible with a sprinkling of salt. And, dare we say it, kinda good.

So in that adventurous spirit, Joy started sketching before we photographed. 

Joy’s brainstorming on the different ways to slice a grapefruit. We used these as a basis for how to plan the photographs and historical characters. 

We used the natural coloring of the grapefruit’s rind and and fruit as a starting point, then lit them in a high contrast style. The result is a bright and contrasted color palette that echoes the grapefruit’s flavor. 

Because we knew we’d be illustrating over top the images, most of the photographs were shot at an angle to allow for depth in the illustrations.  

-MR