Due to world politics I had to wait for quite a while but finally it happened:
The illustration I was commissioned for was published together with the article about Chinese investment projects abroad in the business section of The New York Times on the 1st of August.
The NYT art director responsible for the business part had approached me in early June with the request for a big and bold illustration featuring a list of projects derived from China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” in different European and Asian countries as well as Australia and the US.
The deadline was a bit more than a week as the article was scheduled for print within the first half of June but since the envisaged publishing date coincided with Trump’s introduction of new tariffs for Chinese goods the article was shelved until recently to give space for the breaking news regarding the looming trade war.
Understandably I was very pleased when I got the e-mail from the NYT art director telling me that she was a big fan of my illustrated maps and that she would want me to do an illustration that “pops off the page” for the aforementioned article.
Arguably a paper’s business pages can be a bit bland and dry so she wanted to brighten them with an eye catcher showing different cultural and leisure projects initiated and financed by China to strengthen its relationships with and influence in different countries.
I really enjoyed the job based on the project list the client forwarded to me. Some were already completed and very tangible e.g. a big leisure pool and spa complex in the Czech Republic or a Cultural Exchange Centre at the border between China and Kazakhstan.
Others were still more elusive and vague (e.g. a design centre in Milan to promote brocades and products from the Song Dynasty period) so I was invited to use my imagination and artistic license. There was only one constrain: no dragons were allowed!
The communication with the New York Times was really great and uncomplicated. Just don’t expect any replies or feedback before two o’clock in the afternoon ;-)
So I had lots of fun with the job, learnt something new about China’s global ambitions and also that in the future you do not need to go to Dubai for indoor skiing, you can do that at Australia’s sunny Gold Coast as well.
Work in progress
First design visual for the client:
Adjusted and approved version: