Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dean and Sam Winchester: Art Directors

-By Lauren Panepinto

It's no secret that I love reading Muddy Colors as much as I like writing for Muddy Colors (and a huge thank you to Dan Dos Santos for running it and for inviting me to contribute). The quality of the articles here is so damn high that I'll admit to the occasional bout of performance anxiety. (I mean really, who gave me the day after Manchess?) And when faced with a daunting project, sometimes the best response is to just have fun. Like that time I illustrated an entire post with quotes and clips from Dune. What? I'm a big Dune fan. 
I have also recently been outed as a closet Supernatural fan. I started watching it because one of my editors at Orbit is obsessed with the show and kept using it as visual reference and I had to figure out what the hell she was talking about. Also, I had a week to lay on the couch and recover from tonsil surgery last year and I needed to binge watch something on Netflix. Also a certain AD who won't be named (but you know who you are) had been harassing me about it for months

Anyway, long story short, it's a fun show. And the fandom is fascinating. No, really, there have been scholarly books written about it. There's also this funny phenomenon where there is a Supernatural gif for everything. No really, it's been proven. A couple of other ADs who shall also remain nameless and I have an ichat window open all day...and it's become one long string of SPN gifs...which are strangely applicable to much of an Art Director's day. I'm collecting a bunch of them for you now. I will not credit all the sources, lest it be used against them.
So here you are, the life of an Art Director, illustrated by Supernatural gifs:

When a cover meeting you were completely unprepared for gets rescheduled:

Shaking it off when your cover gets torn apart on the internet:

When you get a portfolio email from an artist you've never heard of…and it's actually really good:

That new epic fantasy manuscript is going to be "gritty and realistic":

After a particularly harsh cover meeting when all your covers were torn apart:

When the other departments complain that the art dept doesn't get in until 10am:

The ONLY acceptable comment from sales at a launch meeting:

When the boss is in meetings forever and is crabby but you need their feedback RIGHT NOW:

When non-art colleagues go into your server folders and dig around without permission:

The amazon buyer's reaction to your cover:

When you're cocky enough to only bring one version to a cover meeting and the publisher loves it:

...Or when every single version of a cover you presented gets killed:

When the editor is trying to use art terminology:

End-of-season deadlines:

Authors, when asked why the manuscript is late:

Being the only person in the office who knows how to fix the printer:

 Hearing "I'll know the right cover when I see it":

Contract negotiations:

Trying to design a cover after you've hit creative burnout:

When Art Directors accidentally make out with artists:

When a cover gets killed in a meeting and the designer is still arguing for it:

When editorial adds a cover to a season a week before sales conference:

When the freelancer blows the deadline and you have to take the heat:

What I'm convinced accounts payable does to random invoices:

When production says you don't have the budget for the cover effects you marked up: 

Two Art Directors having a conversation at a Con for more than 30sec:

Hotel bar after the Con:

How I feel about my fellow contributors on Muddy Colors:

And last but not least…how I feel about you Muddy Colors readers:


So it seems that this post was so popular it's first day that it killed my photobucket account. (For shame, photobucket!) Anyway, it's updated and the links are fixed now. Meanwhile a bunch of people couldn't help but get into the mood and email and message me a bunch of additions, so here they are (excepting the very NSFW ones. No #wincest and no #destiel. You know who you are.)

It was also pointed out to me that I had a severe deficiency of Castiel gifs. Sorry about that, fixing it now.

When you unthinkingly answer your office phone, and it's an artist cold call:

Boob plate armor:

Realizing you did a ton of retouching work on top of a lo-res image and have to redo everything:

Morning coffee:

When artists complain about revisions that happen because they didn't follow the art brief:

When editors hover over your shoulder while you're designing:

Night before deadline:

Realizing you sent a job to the printer with a typo on the cover:

Watching artists flame clients on the internet:

Reading the comments after your work is posted online:

"This cover needs to look commercial and big book, but subtle and literary too":

What I have to say for Muddy Colors readers who haven't watched Supernatural:

How this post makes me feel:


  1. That was perfect. Thank you, Lauren.

  2. Thanks for the laugh this morning, with a few word tweaks they can apply to all art folk!

  3. I have never shared a Muddy Colors post as much I've already shared this one! LOL I've been working on my first book cover project for the past few weeks... and... these are perfect! hahaha #supernatural #ftw

  4. Goddamit, Lauren! How am I supposed to follow this post Monday? Stop posting such good stuff! Okay…I didn't mean that. Don't stop. But have a heart and toss in mediocre post every so often so I don't have to work mt butt off to measure up a couple of days later. Yesh.

    1. And goddamit, what happened to my spellchecker? :-)

  5. Awesome! So glad you got some Ghostfacers in there.

  6. Another Supernatural fan....(tears of joy.)

  7. Lauren, I love you. I just do.

    SPN fans...WE ARE LEGION.

  8. As a muddy colours fan and an EPIC Supernatural fan, I laughed so hard.

  9. Best...MC post...EVER! Just more proof that every feeling can be poignantly explained in animated gifs.

  10. This has given me so many feels. Design feels, solidarity feels, and of course, SPN feels. Best. Ever.


  11. Another brilliant post. Fantastic and absolutely hilarious!

  12. This was great thanks!.........That was my pie..... :)

  13. Look who's popular.
    Is this your photo?
    Upgrade to Plus for additional bandwidth.

  14. @Photobucket - --->

    @Lauren -

  15. Replies

  16. UPDATED! sorry to all of you that visited between 8pm and now, after the post got so popular my photobucket crashed.

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  18. The only thing that is almost as good as this post is Lauren't response gifs to spam. Priceless.

    Also This makes me thing I need to do a big rewatch. Haven't seem much of the current season so by the time I finish it may be on netflix.

    1. thank you for noticing, i was giggling to myself.

  19. Dude. The "artists flaming clients" one has me giggling like crazy, as well as the "sent to printer with typo." Been there, done that.

  20. "Realizing you did a ton of retouching work on top of a lo-res image and have to redo everything." That. So... Much... That. LOL (Also, "How this post makes me feel.") #thumbsup #bestmuddycolorspostever

    One more! One more!


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  22. I feel that I now must watch this show...


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