Raymond Bonilla’s illustration titled “The Piano Lesson” won a gold medal in Advertising from The Society of Illustrators New York 55th Annual Exhibition. The same piece won a gold medal in Entertainment/Visual Development for the The Society of Illustrators Los Angeles 51st Annual Exhibition. His work “Dance Ensemble” was also accepted into The Society of Illustrators Los Angeles 51st Annual Exhibition in the Entertainment/Visual Development category. Bonilla’s “High Plains Fandango” earlier was awarded an Honorable Mention in Entertainment/Visual Development for The Society of Illustrators Los Angeles 50th Annual Exhibition.
The Annual Exhibitions are worldwide juried competitions. “While thousands of artists submit to these competitions every year, only a small percentage of those are juried in, and from that only a handful receive awards,” Bonilla notes. All three of the awarded pieces were for theater posters done for State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance Performance. For each of the productions, Bonilla worked with a director to design posters that capture the main themes of the plays staged by the department.
“For “The Piano Lesson” , I worked with Director Tom Loughlin, with whom I also had worked on “High Plains Fandango”,” he says. “Before submitting any sketches to the director, I read through the plays’ scripts in their entirety. I find that the script really helps me understand the play’s ‘feeling’ and allows me to discuss the poster’s direction in a much more specific fashion.”
“I feel that my job as an illustrator is to not only to make an aesthetically pleasing image but to effectively capture a play’s multiple themes and condense them into a powerful single image. In the case of “The Piano Lesson”, written by the acclaimed playwright August Wilson, the play presents the story of a young man who visits his sister and uncle in Pittsburgh in 1936 determined to sell the family’s heirloom piano so he can buy the land on which his family had been slaves. After discussing the script and presenting a round of sketches with Tom, we both decided the poster should try to convey the story’s tense sibling relationship and the weight of the family’s scarred past, as manifested in the almost mystic family heirloom, a piano.
“In terms of the painting, I started with a line drawing using photographs I took of models and my approved sketch as a reference to plot out my compositional and shadow shapes. After this, I worked from large to small, background to foreground, until I achieved a finish that was appropriate for the piece.
For additional imagery view Ray’s Folioplanet Portfolio and Workbook Portfolio.
The Piano Lesson
High Plains Fandango
© All Images Copyright Raymond Bonilla