A high-flying commission

Recently, reader Julie M. contacted me to ask if I could make a commissioned portrait as a gift for her husband’s birthday.

I rarely attempt portraits — and I’d never tried to make an actual likeness in the Wondermark collage style, where one is limited to the source material one can unearth — but in this case, I happened to get lucky in my search, and was able to create something approaching a resemblance from chunks of about five different source images and judicious use of the Photoshop warp tool.

Plus, Julie’s husband is a pilot, and there are few things that can get me more excited about a commission than the prospect of making a weird Victorian airplane collage.

I think it turned out quite well! (Click the plane for a closer look.)

A high-flying commission

A high-flying commission

All that is well and good, and I would have been happy to leave it there and chalk it all up to a lovely experience.

BUT HISTORY HAD TO SHOW ME UP.

The other day I saw this tweet from the fascinating account @SovietVisuals:

A vintage postcard, reading “Greetings from Leningrad” on the tailplane; “Country of Soviets” betwixt the wings.

Everything old is new again, it seems.

My favorite part is how it appears that the pilot is sticking his head and arm through a canvas, upon which the airplane and landscape have been painted as a backdrop.

Julie, perhaps consider this technique for his next birthday. Everyone at the party can take a turn!