PJ McQuade – LA Weekly cover feat. Keith Apicary and The Fowler Sisters

 Good day to you. Hold on to your butt, this is my longest, most in-depth Illo Confidential post ever.

Got the call to do the cover of LA Weekly featuring these characters above. Nathan Barnatt aka Keith Apicary, the NEO-GEO arcade expert/dance ninja and The Fowler sisters, Elle (blonde) and Blair (brown hair) – valley girl fashionistas with the world on a string. Videos below.  Youtube SENSATIONS, whatta world!  Been doing a lot of of interior editorials lately for LA Weekly, working directly with the fantastic Brian Guillian and Darrick Rainey.  Was really excited to get this opportunity.  I’ve been working in a more linear style recently but Brian and Darrin at LA Weekly referenced the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia illustration I did for the cover of Royal Flush Book 7  HERE a while back in terms of what they were looking for, a more rendered style, a cartoon-y realism I like to call it.  I was more than happy to comply, I love getting detailed in my work.


The idea was to have Keith doing his crazy dance with the Fowler sisters looking on in judgement/disgust.

I watched the video of his Kimberly Cole audition and grabbed a bunch of screen shots of him doing his thing then started sketches, did a couple heads and a couple bodies.

Thought this one was pretty good, captured his nerdiness mid-thrust and gave room to fit the girls in big next to him.

Got my lovely wife to do some posing in the backyard for reference for the girls, then used my light box to do some pencils over them.  Worked up some pencil off their heads and placed them on the bodies.

Put it all together with a pink background and sent it off to Brian and Darrick as a rough.  They really dug it but wanted them all closer together but then…

…he decided to go with this pose!

Definitely the right call, more dynamic and spastic.  Brian came up the blue background the the white source as well, loved it.

    Started on the Keith final,  developing this pose and his face.

All along the way I am developing the girls, tweaking their expressions, dressing them in outfits, getting reference for each individual element – New Balance sneakers, sunglasses, hands, hair, fees etc..

Here are all the files I used for all the imagery. Reference, sketches, in progress.

For the girl’s expression I google imaged the term “bitch face”. Tyra Banks and Kristin Stewart came up alot. On a side note, I wish the Fowler girls all the success in the world, dont mean to give them a hard time but orders are orders :)

My wife and I even got into the act, using the Mac app Photo Booth to take some fantastic reference shots, haha.

As I go along, I save alot, number each new save. I worked on each character separately, bringing them all together now and again.

Wasn’t feeling Keith’s hands so I redid them and and popped them in.

… voliá!   This is the final art I sent.  Detail shots below.

Elle Fowler, the icy blonde.

Blair Fowler, simply aghast at the horror before her!

and Keith, in the zone, his passion for the dance consuming his very soul.

Notice the Sega NEO-GEO fanny pack.  That game rules.  I also have no problem with fanny packs, very functional – gives you easy access to your carried items without cluttering up your pockets and without the bulkiness of a backpack.

When I sent off the final artwork, I had everything on layers so Brian and Darrick could move the figures around to make the cover design work however they liked.

Voliá! They ended up slanting the girls a bit and creating this dope radiating line light source, love it.  Excellent work fellas, thank for for pushing me to take it to the next level.

And here’s Nathan Barnatt (his website HERE) holding up a copy.  Rock on sir, keep on dancing, talking classics!

I hear Bieber is holding auditions next Thursday on Van Nuys.

About PJ McQuade

Artwork and Design. NY, NY. Clients included Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Toronto Life, ESPN, MTV Press, HOW, MAD Magazine & Penthouse. Check out www.pjmcquade.com to see more of his work.

6 comments

  1. Great post. Love the dude’s pose that you settled on.

  2. Pretty spectacular post PJ, and wonderful cover!

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