Hi guys, Thanks for your comments on the "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" piece! I'm glad you like it. To answer questions from the comments:
When the Art Director emailed me about the job, she sent the book review written by Elizabeth Chang and the size that the final illo would have to be. So that's what I had to go on to create this illustration. I haven't read the book, but the review was so great, I almost didn't have to. (You can read it here.) I also did a little research about the book on Amazon before creating the sketches.
The story, in a nutshell, is about a Chinese mother who raises her two daughters in an extremely strict and demanding way -- not allowing child's play, but only academic practice and perfection. The Amazon Editorial Review can sum it up better than I can.
So after thinking a while about this, I had three ideas. I knew I wanted to show the tiger because it's such a striking visual for a piece. And juxtaposing a large, wild tiger with a small child would be eye-catching. So here are the sketches I presented:
As usual with any job, I sent my thoughts to the Art Director about each piece: The first sketch showed the tiger circling around the sisters who were wearing uniforms and holding hands. I drew them so they didn't look scared, but more kind of sad and a little like they expected the tiger. They are also tiny, showing the largeness and overwhelm of the mother compared to the kids. The second sketch was a variation on the first: the piano-playing daughter is practicing while the mother tiger circles. I liked how this one takes a quick visual of piano practice and throws in an unexpected tiger to draw readers into the article... And then the 3rd sketch involved the actual human mother more, which the Art Director liked. So the daughter is practicing piano and again, I drew her small and out of proportion to the mom so she looked even more vulnerable. The mother is huge and hovering, representing her parenting style and constant involvement in her kid's activities. And the tiger on her back is both representing her fierce ways and like Jennifer mentioned in the comments below, that the mother is bearing this weight of parenting too.
I think the final piece was pretty successful and I'm really glad to hear from you all who've heard of or are reading the book that you recognized the connection with the illo. That's exactly what I'd hoped for!