The Kiss – It’s the most anticipated moment of every wedding. It’s the reason the bride went through all the trouble to put on the dress and walk done the aisle. It’s the inspiration the groom needed to show up with the ring. For the rest of us, it’s our chance to be at the taping of a reality show. Finally, it’s Wedding Day! So, you “scoot up” and lean just a little further to make sure you see the groom “salute the bride.”
Well, illustrator, Lo’Vonia Parks,’ “Wedding Day – The Kiss,” depicts the climax of every wedding. It captures the explosion of suppressed passion and truly represents the real emotion that everyone wants to see at a wedding.
The inspiration for the piece came from international recording artist, E. Walter Smith’s recent release “Wedding Day! Precious Moments.” This is a collection of original wedding music that includes titles like, “I Do,” “First Dance,” and “Little Girl” featuring teen diva, Star Search finalist and AMERICAN IDOL contestant, Tatiana McConnico.
“Since love and marriage crosses all socio-economic, racial, and cultural boundaries I wanted a logo that would simply say, “Wedding Day,” says Smith. It is important for everybody to be able to see themselves in the picture. The only way to do that way is with line art. So, I posted listings on everywhere from Craig’s List to at least 10 – 15 art schools and message boards. I received at least 75–100 inquiries and submissions.
To help me navigate the process, I solicited the help of freelance art director, James Mason Bartlett of Mason Dzign (clients include Urban Influence Magazine, an official publication of the National Urban League [http://www.urbaninfluencemagazine.com] as well as several other entities throughout the country.) I new that he had over 20 years of experience in this field and would be very critical of the entire process. In fact, his comment was, “we need something that will be iconic.”
Finding an illustrator that would have the ability to create an iconic piece in an industry that has thousands of interpretations of “Wedding Day!” can be compared to another fairy tale challenge of “kissing a lot of frogs to find a prince.” The competition is fierce and the critics are ruthless. However, a recent graduate from the Savannah School of Art thought that she had what it would take to change the image of weddings forever.
“My friends and professors recommended that Craig’s List was a great place to look for freelance work. Most of the stuff posted was for landscapes and other stuff I wasn’t interested in. But, one day I saw that a singer wanted a piece done in Ty Wilson’s style with a subject being wedding day with minimal color. I was like, “Oh, my God this is it!” Oh, my God, this is my style; very minimal, fluid lines, high movement. So I called, gave my credentials and E. called me back. I was so excited, and of course, my dad was happy that it was paying!” says Parks.
As Smith and Bartlett went through the submissions, the major hurdle they had to cross was deciding what exactly did “iconic” mean for the “Wedding Day!” project and the E. Walter Smith brand. The market had come to expect a certain look for a wedding day image and the issue soon became how far Smith was willing to push the envelope. Few other recording artists had produced a project composed of only wedding music and many industry veterans said that those kinds of projects would only work for established artists. After much deliberation they began the process of reviewing sketches and tweaking ideas.
“When I opened Lo’Vonia’s file I was completely blown away!” says Smith. “For starters, it was no where near what I was looking for. However, in my opinion it was amazing…it absolutely took my breath away. The problem was that my close circle of friends and advisors thought that it was just too much for the theme of the project. Consequently, we decided to move forward with another artist, but that only confused us more. So, I took both pictures to choir practice and did a poll. I felt pretty safe surveying this pool of people because Christ Our Hope Catholic Church is comprised of at least 35 different nationalities and the choir member age range is from 6 to about 70. All but two chose Lo’Vonia’s illustration. In fact, they said, “That’s what a bride and groom should look like on their wedding day!”
When asked about E’s comments pertaining to the fact that her submission was not even close to what was posted, Lo’Vonia said that her mentor, Justin Galloway, and professor, Don Rogers said that she should go with her gut feeling.
“After realizing that E. wanted something iconic, I listened to all of his music. I wanted to be in the mood to make sure that I could represent E’s true spirit. I thought about what is the happiest part of the wedding. I would want to give my husband a kiss. Nothing mundane. Something huge. Real love. So, I made the woman take the initiative and kiss the man. I wanted to illustrate the emotional whirlwind of the moment as a dance, so I made sure that the lines had movement and showed the passion they had they had for one another. I wanted it to say, ‘We are now one in God’s eyes.’ This illustration captured the explosion of that moment,” says Parks.
Will this union of artists be fruitful and multiply? As with any relationship, communication will be the key. “The collaborative creative process requires that all of the principals be clear on what the expectations are in the beginning of the project. We were blessed with an early illustration submission that really was a happy accident and were able to massage a final solution that was to my client’s complete approval. And, at the end of the day, that’s everybody’s goal.
I think that Lo’Vonia is very talented and has a bright future. Many times I run into young illustrators and designers who haven’t garnished enough experience to truly understand the business side of the art industry. The back and forth tweaking of a design and ultimately presenting the finished product in a format that the end user requires is part of being a professional. To be a recent graduate, I was impressed with Lo’Vonia’s ability to work with E. I think I’ll be involved in the beginning planning stages of E’s next project and hopefully will be able to hire her to do some freelance work for some of my clients. As long as she consistently brings her “A” game to the table, I think that she will find steady residence on my list of preferred service providers,” says Bartlett.
“I have a lot of ideas that will require the same kind of line art style that Lo’Vonia used for Wedding Day!, says Smith. I’m excited about the possibility of using her on more of my projects. I know that working with me can be challenging because I do require everybody to step up with their best all the time. When all is said and done everything tends to point back towards me, so I try to put out the best product that I can. Every project like this starts with a blank canvass and ends in an Adobe Illustrator file. I look forward to her next submissions and wish her the best of luck.”
And now…the moment you’ve all been waiting for: