David Doran





David Doran is an illustrator currently based in Falmouth, Cornwall. With a strong interest in traditional print techniques, his work explores textures and overlapping colour palettes. Often involving a sense of narrative with conceptual elements, he frequently employs figures and symbolism. Graduating from Falmouth University in 2014, David has worked with a wide-range of international clients, including The New York Times, WIRED, Nobrow and the San Francisco Chronicle.

This illustration was commissioned for The New York Times Book Review and accompanied an article reviewing Dennis Bock’s novel, ‘Going Home Again’. The story follows a man that spends a strange year at home, in Canada, after separating from his wife in Madrid. The image depicts the secluded and contemplative scene of him travelling back home alone, whilst also involving the Canadian flag, in order to communicate the subtle questions of identity raised in the article.

Winning the award has been a fantastic experience for me. It’s opened up many new doors and has been an encouraging start to the beginning of my career. It is a huge honour to have been recognised in editorial illustration by such an esteemed panel of judges. I had a lot of fun working on this illustration and am very thankful to Nicholas Blechman, Art Director at The New York Times Book Review, for entrusting me with the project.”


BRIEF: To create an illustration for an article reviewing Dennis Bock’s novel, ‘Going Home Again’.

MATERIALS: Ink, Pencil, Print and Adobe Photoshop.

RESEARCH: It was important to understand the themes and subject matter of the novel being reviewed, but I chose not to look too far beyond the article itself. I simply researched all the visual references in order to pictorially make sense of the text.

PROCESS: I began by gathering together all of the different visuals that built up the story, i.e. an airplane for the sense of travel, a suitcase, and the Canadian flag, Toronto etc. After playing around with these different elements for a short while, I struck upon the sketch where the Canadian flag was interlinked with the main character in the airplane scene. I enjoy creating work that functions on multiple levels and has dual readings. I sent off 6 sketches, this idea was selected and then I had 2 days to create the final artwork.

RESISTANCES: I resisted using a Maple leaf as the main focus. This could have made the Canadian flag clearer, but I think it was necessary to remain subtle in the concept, so that it might be more rewarding once the article has been read and the themes are apparent.

INSIGHT: This was my first job for The New York Times. It came a month before beginning my final year at University, which was great timing for me to decide on focusing more on editorial illustration during my studies.

DISTRACTIONS: With only 1 full day to work on concepts, there wasn’t that much time to get distracted on this project. I usually find that the chosen idea comes out in the first hour or so of sketching, but will always spend the rest of the time exploring all the other routes. It’s definitely possible to get distracted down one of those routes and find myself drawing a seemingly unrelated object for far too long.

NUMBERS: 4 days, 6 sketches, 1 final artwork.

AFTERWORDS: This project was a great experience and one that I look back on fondly. I had a lot of fun working on this illustration and am thankful to Nicholas Blechman, Art Director at The New York Times Book Review, for entrusting me with the image. Receiving an award from the AOI is a huge honour and very encouraging.

Doran Doran