Smaller is Better!

front page illustration of the Sunday, March 13th NYTimes Real Estate section
Steven Salerno’s illustration/NYTimes March 13th, Real Estate section
(detail view) b&w line drawing with crayon, of the little train engine 
(detail view) of final illustration/little train engine

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I recently was contacted by the NYTimes real estate section art director Carol Dietz, to illustrate an upcoming article about how over the past handful of years smaller boutique real estate firms in NYC have been rivaling the larger, more established firms, giving clients a choice. She (and the editors) were open to whatever approach I might take, however did not want the illustration concept to be a comparison of the little firm vs the large firm… but rather focus on how the little firms can offer more attention to clients, etc… and also wanted the illustration to somehow show three categories of building types: the townhouse, the prewar apartment building, and the modern high-rise. I came up with a couple different idea approaches, but Carol liked best the one of a little train engine (suggestive of the children’s book,“The Little Train That Could”) pulling a load consisting of the three type apartment buildings. I came up with this idea based on a couple lines in the article text which commented on how smaller firms are nimbler and have more energy to focus personal attention on their client. It seemed like such a nice fit to depict a little engine, determined as it chugs up the steep tracks, successfully delivering its products to the clients. 

I created the illustration by separately drawing the train engine, the flatbed cars, and the three buildings with black crayon and black gouache, scanning them all into Photoshop as one layer on top of the background image layer that I had created digitally in Photoshop of the NYC skyline. The color of the train engine and the apartment buildings was also done digitally. You can see this illustration in the March 13th Sunday NY Times Real Estate section. (click here to see a previous post on another assignment I did for the NY Times Sunday real estate section with art director Carol Dietz.)

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