I found this bit of information about illustrator Ronnie Joyner and thought it was relevant in light of BEA and what happening in the world of publishing. If there’s one truth I’ve noticed it’s that when you create a project that is a about something you love your work tends to be better and it resonates with the people who view it. It’s always better to approach a project this way than to do something you think is “commercial”. The reason for that is what you think is commercial today may already be out of style. Be original and do something that will give you joy. The rest should follow.
This is reposted from the Washington Post/ By Donnie Morgan, Wednesday, June 6, 6:11 AM
Two of Ronnie Joyner’s passions are baseball and art, and in his new book, “Hardball Legends and Journeymen and Short-Timers,” released this spring, he paired those interests.
Joyner, 48, packed 333 “bio-illustrations” into the softbound book, a style that blends black-and-white drawings of players with biographical information that goes far beyond what is on baseball cards. Creating the drawings has been one of his hobbies for 15 years. Joyner is a graphic artist at the U.S. Senate who lives in Charlotte Hall. He said the bio-illustrations are not caricatures.
“They don’t exaggerate a player’s features” in a humorous way, he said, but rather are sketches from photographs and other sources. Each takes about 12 hours from start to finish, he said.
And although the dominant features in Joyner’s bio-illustrations are the player portraits, the text surrounding them is detailed and often recalls a bygone era.
Hitters are “sluggers” who “smash circuit clouts” (hit home runs). Pitchers are “hurlers” who “toss” no-hitters and “flip” shutouts. It’s a language all its own — one for fans of Topps and Fleer baseball cards of the past — and Joyner speaks it fluently.
“I’ve always been interested in baseball, reading everything I could get my hands on, and I’m just a fan and a historian,” he said. “I wanted to combine the sort of artwork that used to appear in daily papers from the ’30s to the ’50s with the information I researched about each person. . . . It’s not like I’m keeping alive some art form, because this is pretty much extinct. I do it because I enjoy it, and I hope people enjoy seeing it.”
Joyner’s first published bio-illustration in 1998 was of outfielder Jim King, who played for the Washington Senators in the 1960s. Joyner was a Senators fan as a boy and was in elementary school when the team bolted for Texas after the 1971 season.
“Mostly though, I pick my subjects because of something different or unusual about them,” Joyner said. “When I was starting out doing some bio-illustrations for Sports Collectors Digest [a niche magazine and memorabilia site], I wouldn’t pick out Hall of Famers, because there was already so much out there about them. I’ve always enjoyed reading about players who had unusual careers or quirky things about them that made them stand out. Sometimes the things that made them unique were funny,” but sometimes they were tragic.
For example, Joyner placed on facing pages New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays and Cleveland Indians second baseman Ray Chapman. The two are forever linked in baseball history because in 1920, Chapman was the only man ever killed by a pitch in a major league game — and Mays threw it.
Lighter fare in “Hardball Legends” includes the story of Frank Saucier of the St. Louis Browns. His claim to fame was that in 1951 he was pinch-hit for by 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel as part of a publicity stunt by St. Louis owner Bill Veeck.
Gaedel, by the way, drew a walk.
“Unusual baseball stories have always fascinated me,” Joyner said. “Then, about five or six years ago, when I started thinking about compiling a book, I started drawing more of the big-time players so that there would be some balance.”