When Sarah ‘Inkymole’ Coleman received an email with ‘Playboy’ in the subject line, she almost deleted it as spam. However, it turned out to be an approach to be the first illustrator to work on the cover of the American men’s magazine for 23 years – and the first ever to get to redraw the iconic logo.
We caught up with Sarah to find out more about the project – and get an exclusive peek at her work in progress,
NB: What in your portfolio do you think attracted them to you?
SC: "They told me exactly what clinched it for them – my covers for Sight & Sound magazine (below), where they would send me the cover, usually with a film actor on it, and I would annotate round it."
NB: What was the brief? Did you have the photo or a comp guide?
SC: "I was actually sent nine possible photographs from the shoot. The final cover could have been any one of them – we wouldn't know until Hugh Hefner, the owner, had made his decision at the last minute. He is still extremely involved in the running of the magazine, and so it would be up to him to choose. Therefore we needed to produce artwork capable of working with and around any of the shots, some of which were just head shots and so quite different from the whole-body ones."
NB: Did you draw inspiration from any of the illustrated Playboy covers from over two decades ago?
SC: "I did have a scout around, yes. But I didn't want to be distracted – [Playboy art director] Mac was very specific about the style of my work that he liked, so I didn't want to move away from that, especially given the tight timescale."
NG: Are you the first artist to get to play with the Playboy logo?
SC: "Although the masthead was once turned into a plastic pair of glasses for a cover a couple of decades ago (below), in terms of the logo artwork I believe I am, yes."
NB: How did the editorial content – eg it being 'The College issue' affect the way that you drew your type?
SC: "Yes, the editorial content and the timing of the issue very much directed the 'girl's pretty doodle' style of type."
NB: Were immediate legibility or readability particular concerns considering this is a magazine cover?
SC: "Legibility was very important. Remember it has to be scan-read prior to purchase ... usually from a very high shelf. Hef had me re-do the Stephen Hawking type as he's a massive Hawking fan, and if he couldn't read it, it had to be re-drawn.
NB: What was the best part of the project?
SC: "I loved the whole process but getting it done and dusted in four days, then seeing it on the shelf a month later when I was in the US for a wedding was exciting."
NB: What's next?
SC: "Well, I was actually working on six book covers and two ad campaigns when Playboy landed – one for Toyota and one a Christmas campaign for a big coffee chain in the US – both of which I've just finished, so those are out very soon. Right now I'm working on my 241st book cover – in fact I am doing eight books at once.'
Above are a couple of Sarah's suggested takes on the Playboy masthead and logo, while below are some of her initial drawings.