Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 2 comments

In Jon Robin Baitz’s introduction to More McMullans, he writes: The poster for a play is a tricky thing. It has many functions, and in order to succeed, it must meet all of them equally. It is a hybrid between an advertisement for the thing you are going to see and a psychological announcement of the show’s raison d’etre. It is the promissory note for the emotions to be evoked by the play in question.

As a huge fan of James McMullan’s poster work for Lincoln Center, it’s a thrill to tackle that “tricky thing” for Portland Stage Company.

Creating a poster begins like many illustration assignments, with a text. In the case of Veils by Tom Coash, a strong script deftly plays the exchanges between two women who truly want to understand each other across vast divides. For the first time, I was able to see a staging of the play last May at the Little Festival of the Unexpected, when I did these quick sketches on site.


I found fantastic reference for veil styles in my daughter’s Portland High School yearbook, a diverse school with students from 41 countries speaking 26 languages. I also found photos on the American University in Cairo’s Facebook page, where playwright Tom Coash taught, and the source of his observations on the culture clashes of students abroad.

These are some of the early sketches that evolved into the final illustration.






Honestly, I got carried away with the possibilities, which makes it hard for the marketing team to choose. I worked in favorite elements from several into this final sketch.


I wanted to reference the ornamentation on a buckle I’d seen at the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s Islamic Art wing.

buckles_blogI found this color scheme particularly appealing in a book on Islamic Art.


I did this in unmerged layers of pastel and charcoal, which Design Diva Karen Lybrand has used in multiple formats.

veil-final_blogAnd today I got my tickets to the show! Looking forward to this moving portrayal of two women searching for common ground. Read more here, and then GO.


  1. Fantastic! Love all the sketches and Arabic script influenced lettering. Bravo!

  2. Amazing work, Jamie. Your post reveals the combination of discipline and vision that equals that incredible Hogan “talent.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *