John Mavroudis on creating his TIME cover portrait of Christine Blasey Ford

The artist on using Ford's powerful testimony to create his work, and the letters of support from women he's received since.

This weekend saw Brett Kavanaugh sworn into the Supreme Court of the United States, an appointment which came after a much-seen hearing where Kavanaugh was testified against by professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The speech of this powerful testimony has now been immortalised for the cover of the latest TIME Magazine, as illustrated by John Mavroudis.

Speaking to Digital Arts about the cover, the San Fransico-based artist explained to us about the brief from TIME.

"When TIME originally contacted me on (October 1st), their creative director D.W. Pine sent me the request along with a possible mock up for the assignment," John tells us. "He had seen my earlier depictions of Trump (below) and Hillary in typographical portraits and wanted to know if I could do the same for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

"We had a tight deadline, but it was doable," John continues. "They wanted to make up the portrait with words from her testimony, so I found a transcript and read through the testimony, pulling quotes or words that seemed to capture the essence of what was happening. We also spoke about finding the right kind of image so I looked through photos and video, and the moment she was sworn-in, with her eyes closed, seemed to be that moment."

Using the photo as reference, John utilised the power of words with a very clever use of text as metaphor, using an iPad with Apple Pencil and Procreate as his tools.

"After moving her hand around to fit into a more vertical pose," he says, "I started writing text where I thought it was most appropriate. Memory moments went onto her forehead, her glasses 'reflected' the rooms she remembered, and the mouth had the phrase 'I tried to yell for help.'

"I had that on the upper lip, then pulled the word 'Help' below into her teeth. That way the the sentence could still be read, but the word would stand alone."

The project had a quick turnaround, but, as can be seen, John pulled a blinder, and the artist is proud of his creation.

"I think I was successful at capturing her in the essence of the event then and the event now. She's a more complex person than those two 'points', but I think it captured what made her testimony so riveting for the nation.

"My second piece of pride was a bit more selfish and that was seeing my artwork in that iconic red box of TIME. TIME magazine holds a special place in American history and I grew up with it always being a part of our house. It’s pretty amazing still."

Indeed, TIME has form for well-crafted, thought provoking covers like this anti-Trump work by Edel Rodriguez. Clearly we're living in a golden age of illustration due to the turbulent era of Trump, but John doesn't think it's a double-edged sword.

"It is another golden age of illustration," John tells us, "but that reflects the times and the fact that it’s also the golden age of journalism again. I believe the two go hand in hand. I think art can hold up an important mirror in times like these."

The feedback for this particular addition to the pantheon has been significant, with John receiving letters from women who'd seen the cover.

"The feedback I’ve received has been extremely gratifying and, in some cases, heartbreaking," he reveals. "One woman relayed the fact that she was sitting with her husband, who didn’t get why Ford waited so long to talk, and then told him for the first time about her horrible experience as a 13-year old girl. I was stunned reading it, but it seems to be a cathartic image for so many. That is deeply gratifying."

Read next: The art world inspires action with these anti-Trump illustrations

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