Andrew Rae and New York Times Magazine Have Serious Fun
For many, if not most, money can be terrifying. Discussing money has become taboo in most social contexts, and the people who have the ready experience and are easiest to find, all work for banks who may not be the best folks to trust in every situation. In a world where investing has become an amateur break-time hobby, or the result of self-help books, there's a lot of room for benevolent assistance. For the lost and infirm, Adam Davidson's ongoing column "On Money" in New York Times Magazine has become an invaluable resource.
For every one of these pieces that is published, it is paired with one or more original illustrations by Andrew Rae. The nature of the changing subjects means that Andrew is always creating something different in response to an ever changing landscape of information. But when it comes time to create, he is not being over directed. Instead, New York Times Magazine has given him an incredible amount of creative license. "They give me total freedom to come up with ideas," says Andrew. "So I rough up some initial thoughts and then there is often a fair bit of discussion and reworking of the roughs to get to the final image. I like to have some discussion as it helps to hone the idea and make sure I haven’t missed the point of the piece." The pieces help to clarify and contextualize Adam Davidson's work so it is vital that it lines up with the themes but adds a new level to the readers' experience.
Most peoples' experience with money is anxiety inducing, or at least mortally serious. But Andrew's style is playful, riddled with visual jokes (maybe even a jab or two). This is by design. His sense of humor sets the tone for a topic that readers may otherwise prefer to skip. "I’ve tried to avoid some of the more obvious money cliche’s by making the images and characters playful," says Andrew. "I hope that these images might persuade someone who might otherwise think of money as a dry subject to give it some time. These articles cover some very important issues that people should be thinking about especially in the light of the recent world economic crisis." When the financial sector becomes increasingly anxiety inducing, seeing an image of a two headed, self effacing banker may put a reader at ease enough to take a shot at reading the article and learning something crucial. This potential is a huge factor for Andrew's own work.
Obviously, to create this work Andrew must read the pieces he's illustrating for, and this has had an understandable effect not only on the work, but also on him. "I have I’ve enjoyed reading them and I’ve really enjoyed doing work about current subjects that have an effect on all of our lives," says Andrew. "It’s important to me that my work has some relevance to the world around me rather than becoming a totally self absorbed fantasy." As much as Andrew's work provides context for the Magazine's pieces, the relationship is reciprocal. The pieces show the gravity to what Andrew is doing. Despite their playful style, they're tackling pivotal issues that will benefit whoever reads their accompanying context, proving that the study of finances truly could benefit from a few laughs.