Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Buried Life OR They Threw Us All In A Trench And Put A Coffee Table Book On Top

Over the summer of 2011 i had the pleasure of working on the above book, What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? a compendium of random people's dreams, desires and fantasies ranging from the earnest, realistic and touching, to the cloying, banal, insipid and down-right impossible in a Bucket List style, as a companion piece of publishing to MTV's (apparently off the air?) show The Buried Life. Wikipedia describes The Buried Life thusly:

"The Buried Life is a reality documentary series on MTV.[1] The series features Duncan Penn, Jonnie Penn, Ben Nemtin and Dave Lingwood attempting to complete a list of "100 things to do before you die." The pilot episode aired on January 18, 2010, and the show was renewed for a second season in 2010. On Oct. 25, 2011, it was reported that MTV had canceled The Buried Life;[2]however, the show's creators claim they are currently working on a "new and improved" show for the network based on the premise of the original series."

Also, here's the trailer for Jack Nicholson / Morgan Freeman HBO daytime re-run staple tear jerker The Bucket List just for good measure:

That's pretty much the tone of the content. The book contains essays from the show's creators, but is mainly comprised of the aforementioned fan and viewer write in answers to the question posed in the title. An extremely talented bunch of illustrators and designers were commissioned to illustrate and letter the content, originally with the intent and direction that the result would resemble a cross between the website and teenage daydream notebook doodles, though this approach was relaxed after the first round of images came through. 

The project could be frustrating at times, as striking the delicate balance between tossed off but inspired and steel-eyed pro-fesh but teenage but not too raw can be a bit tricky.  By and large, however, the project was a lot of fun to work on, allowing me to get looser than normal with much of the drawing and, when genuine teen-angst line or art student in love gravitas were called for, using drawings from sketchbooks as far back as my own actual highschool days. Additionally, the editors allowed for some subtle moments of subversion with some of the cheezier writing. I was saddled primarily with earnest inspirational phrases or angsty teenage super seriousness, and it was a great relief to be able to sneak in some humor. Below are some shots of the book as well as some of the original files and some illustrations that didn't make the cut, largely from the initial fake amateur art phase:

At the end of the day, I was really pleased with how well the book came together overall. It was also a great experience having work included alongside the super-talented friends and colleagues who made up the rest of the art roster. I have but one gripe, and i'll frame it as a trite, sanctimonious low-consequence reply to the titular question of this project, "I'd like to have my name included in the credits of subsequent printings of What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?"  : P (They left my name out of the credits).

Sad Trombone

As always, thanks for reading! Now, go outside it's beautiful!