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|| News Item: Posted 2007-01-08

Trade Secrets: Football players 'On the Job'
Erik Lunsford's illustrative portraits are next in a series of features called "Trade Secrets."

By Erik Lunsford, The Palm Beach Post

Photo by Erik Lunsford / The Palm Beach Post

Photo by Erik Lunsford / The Palm Beach Post

From top: Daunte Culpepper: "The Office"; Jarvis Moss: "The Anchorman"; Jon Beason: "The Professor"; Buster Davis: "The Speaker" and Nello Faulk: "The Bodyguard."
I had the opportunity of illustrating this year's Palm Beach Post football preview section that highlighted professional and college athletes from around the state of Florida.

For over a month, I worked with one of our sports designers to illustrate the theme "On the Job." The portraits were to feature each athlete character awkwardly propped in 'jobs' to illustrate their talents from on-and-off the field. We had a large budget for props and travel, and an entire month to create the illustrative portraits that conveyed the theme.

The Daunte Culpepper image, "The Office", was produced through a combination of extensive Photoshop manipulation and physical destructive techniques. After printing, the image was subjected to being run over with a car, getting stomped on with very dirty shoes, and having mud ground into the surface. For the finishing touches, a variety of paper clips, plastic knives, box cutters, and cheese graters were used to give the print that distressed 'feel' before scanning it to produce the final product. It was quite humorous watching the newspaper security guards in the employee lot stare in confusion as I drove forward and reverse repeatedly to create the imprint texture.

The Jarvis Moss image, "The Anchorman," is reminiscent of British artist David Hockney's stylized images. To create the effect, an image of Jarvis sitting at a television anchor desk was printed in several different sizes. The images were then cut into many small pieces, loosely reassembled, and photographed in the studio to create the 'three dimensional' appearance of the final image. I tried to preserve the original collage by spraying it with adhesive, but if fell apart about an hour later.

The Jon Beason image, "The Professor," is a photograph digitally placed on a scanned image of crumpled notebook paper. This helped to communicate the overall academic feel of a classroom. It required an extensive amount of post-production in Photoshop to achieve the translucent look of the illustration. As a side note, one of the models in this image is my presentation editor's son and the other was a high school student taking a tour of the college campus - hopefully we didn't scare her away.

The Buster Davis image, "The Speaker," is a photograph of Buster at a podium against a red theatre curtain. After being printed with a Kodak dye-sublimation printer, the image emulsion was separated from the photographic paper backing, soaked in water, and toasted in a toaster oven in the employee kitchen. I don't recommend trying this again - after taking a couple inadvertent whiffs of the strange smoke coming off the dye-sub paper in the toaster oven, our lab tech, Tim, was walking strangely and I got a killer headache.

The Nello Faulk image, "The Bodyguard," is a combination of dried newsprint and table salt. The photograph was printed on our own newsprint proof printers, soaked in a water-filled pan, and left to dry under a tungsten hot lamp. As the print dried, table salt was added to soak up the ink, leaving a rough, pebbled surface. The lighting in our studio created the dropshadow when I photographed the treated print. How I figured to use salt is still a mystery -- kinda picked salt because it was there in the scary studio kitchen.

All this really boils down to is creativity. I suppose I was just looking for a reason to have fun with common household tools and sundry office items. But, more importantly, I was just looking for a way to think outside the box with these illustrations. Despite the toaster oven that will never quite be the same, at least now the guards on our parking lot remember my name.

Erik Lunsford is a staff photographer at The Palm Beach Post in Florida.

"Trade Secrets" is a series of educational features where members reveal the inside-information about how they were able to create a specific image (or two.) To nominate an image for this feature, please send a message to the admin staff here: The admin staff reserves the right to accept, or not accept, any nomination.

Related Links:
Lunsford's member page

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