Some time ago, I was asked to do some illustrations for a guy in New Zealand who was working on this compliation CD consisting of Christian hip-hop (don't laugh -- there are some pretty good groups out there, like this one) and needed some nifty artwork to catch the viewer's eye. Titled Soundtracts, I agreed to work on the project and began sketching. I was to do three illustrations for a story found in the CD booklet, but the guy was willing for me to take a crack at the cover, if I wanted. The guy's original idea for the cover was this photo of a businessman stopping to listen to some music by a vagabond-like character on the street. I wasn't digging the poses so I offered to tweak the scenario and add my 'special touch.' He was down with it. Above is the cover and below is the back cover -- the tracklisting would be over on the right, once I got all the info on the songs and artists. Click on images for a larger version.

Unfortunately, the project fell through. I was rather pleased with what I did on Soundtracts, but I hated that now no one will ever see it. Oh well, that's just what happens sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've worked like a dog for various projects, animation and otherwise, only to see the project fall by the wayside. It's frustrating at times, but I just have to know that it's expected. No sense getting worked up about it. Accept it and move on.

The story that was to be found in the CD booklet was to take on a different approach than from the cover illustrations. In the story, the concept was, "What if Jesus lived today? And was a hip-hop artist?" A very odd concept, I would say, and so I saw it as a great challenge. Three illustrations were to be done, each one depicting an important stage of Jesus's role in the story: Life, Death, and Resurrection. I decided to have a particular color be prominent for each stage. Blue for Life, red for Death, and yellow for Resurrection. As the project progressed, I really started to get into it and eventually was very happy with the end result. It's one of my favorite projects of recent and I'm glad to finally showcase them for others to see. Hope you like. And yes, Jesus has dreadlocks.

Click on each image for a larger version.





  1. love the cover and back cover. really great. poetic.

    you sent him the work and then just "never heard from him again?" that is extremely annoying. possibly -the- most annoying thing. it's happened to me on projects as well. makes me crazy.

    question is are you sure the project actually fell through and there aren't c.d.s in every wallmart at this very moment bearing this artwork?

  2. Great artwork! That's too bad it didn't work out. I hope you at least got paid for your work.

  3. the images aren't loading for me ... wimper ... whine ... please ... i just want to see the crazy stuff

  4. They aren't loading in Mozilla or Explorer. Only one picture of the six is loading.

    Maybe the God of the Hebrews is displeased with your work...


  5. I'm experiencing some problems with Blogger right now, too -- but I'm able to view the pics. They can be seen in my Flickr account, if you're curious.

    jmorrison, I know for a fact that the project did not get off the ground. I've since talked to the guy, and he said that the money and funding fell through. Poop happens! (Paraphrasing, of course.)

    This was a project where I'd get paid after the project was off and running, so, uh... no, I did not get paid. But like I said, I'm over it, and there's no hard feelings aimed at the guy. He tried his best, but things just didn't work out.

    After all, I feel that I was paid in other ways -- I was able to fully flex my artistic muscles on this particular style that I had been working on for awhile now, and this was the first time I could see it come to fruition as part of a complete concept. I think it worked.

  6. Ward, these are nothing short of awesome and if its any consolation I always think of the fall-through projects as an opportunity to create a good self-promo piece that might lead to a killer job down the road.

    Your blog's showing up fine in safari, btw. ;-)

    P.S. thanks for the link to Marsill - you're right, they are pretty good!

  7. So... the guy blows up as a rapper, Gets dropped, and comes back to preach the gospal to his Homies. Nice.

  8. "This was a project where I'd get paid after the project was off and running, so, uh... no, I did not get paid. But like I said, I'm over it, and there's no hard feelings aimed at the guy. He tried his best, but things just didn't work out."

    You're a better man than I, Ward. I'd be kinda bitter.

  9. Dude.
    I can see clearly now.
    Good stuff.
    I'm diggin' it.
    Thanks for whatever you did to fix the viewing abilities.
    You rock, as usual.

  10. I tend to agree with leif. Spec projects are fine if you go into them with your eyes open and see it as an opportunity to do something really different. I do a lot of stuff for people where the work really is its own reward--sadly. Still, I get better with every one I do and I always try and include them in the old portfolio.

    These images are phenomenal by the way!!

  11. I love the art Ward, and the integrity with which you can do "religious" art and still keep it your own and full of meaning. fresh. love it.

    My gig that fell through was with prophetik.com. they have cool t's but with my non-graphic design background asking me to do a t-shirt design was crrrazy. These images should find a home! They're cool. My brain is now working....

  12. very nice artwork. I'm using firefox and its loading up properly.

    use of colors are great.


  13. beautiful work! you know what it is....i finally clued in. it's the use of the same color in different hues. ureka!! really love these!

  14. Thanks for the nice words, guys. I found out what the issue was -- corrupted images. Even though Safari and Flickr were able to view them, for some reason those previously mentioned browsers had problems with them. I changed the mode from CMYK to RGB, which I believe was the culprit. I had the images as CMYK for print purposes, by the way.

    Thanks again for the compliments! I had fun working on this project, I'm just happy that at least somebody will get to see them!

  15. Yeah Ward, these are really swell. I've always dug your color palettes - they're so immediately *you*. Too bad they never called back (I hate when clients do that).

    At least you got to share with the group, right!?

  16. Love da topmost illustration.
    Nice work mate!

    you sent him the work and then just "never heard from him again?

    its happened with me as well :( .But i was lil lucky as i got some advance from him :)

  17. Too bad they didn't use your illustrations... they're really nice. Colors, poses and the whole thing are great. Good job, anyway.

  18. Very interesting.

    Back then I never thought about it. I was just trying to put together a project for 'the good of the gospel'

    So this is one of them big public apologies cos I never meant to do that. I was at a time in my ... why do i need to explain this?

    Ward did actually hear from me again..

    For what it's worth, I'm sorry bro.
    Christians fell through on me. So i hurt people I didn't want to in the fall.

    Peace ward.

  19. Like I said in my post, no harm done. And you're right -- we did talk after I delivered the artwork. I've since changed my post in regards to that. I realized that it sounded like I was all riled up about that, which I am not. And it made you out to be the bad guy, which you were definitely not. Very sorry about that.

    I do want to say publicly that I am, in no way, mad or upset over this project. There are projects that will be dropped for various reasons and I've come to terms with that. In my many years in the animation biz, heaven knows I see this every day. This project was just another one that got away, so to speak. I did learn a lot from it, mainly in the way I approach my art. I love the fact that you gave me total and complete freedom to work in my unique style for the cover and the story. For that, I am completely grateful.

    So, Steve, I have no ill will towards you and what you were trying to start up with Soundtracts. I hate to see that you've dropped the project entirely, but hey -- maybe someone else could pick up the pieces. You never know. It's a great and wonderful idea, one that deserves the audience that it was trying to reach. I hope you do reconsider some day in getting it back up and running, and maybe others will be down with the cause.

    It IS good to hear from you, however. Keep in touch, in the meantime. Would love to chat.

  20. hey wow, great art and ideas. i dig it.