Philly Creative Guide

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Big Al Gruswitz

Boundless Creativity
by Big Al Gruswitz, 1 Aug 2010

This month Big Al is celebrating 46 years in advertising! He started in art studios in Detroit, his hometown. He's held staff positions as an art director and associate creative director at several major agencies including Campbell Ewald (Chevrolet) and Saatchi & Saatchi. While at Saatchi & Saatchi, Big Al started the Consumer Division at their medical agency, Klemtner Advertising (now Saatchi Healthcare) where he won the inaugural account, Rogaine. He was responsible for the consumer, medical, and international launch of that brand.

How did Al become 'Big Al?' "When you're 6'6" tall, weigh over 300 lbs., and have a shaved head and a beard, what else are they going to call you." says Big Al, "Call it branding. Not everyone knows my last name, but most people in agencies in NYC and NJ know 'Big Al'."


Boundless Creativity was started in 1994 and specializes in 3D and 2D photorealistic illustration, medical illustration, and difficult retouching.

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

Many people are surprised to find out that the wide variety of Boundless Creativity work has been produced by one person—Big Al Gruswitz. But the explanation is simple: Big Al was an art director and associate creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in NYC prior to becoming an illustrator, so he thinks like an art director. Illustration is really a matter of problem solving, finding the best way to execute the art director's concept, and then do it—not just well enough to meeting the art director's every expectation—but to go the extra mile to exceed those expectations. That takes getting into the AD's head by asking lots of questions and making sure that you are both on the same page. Big Al comments, "I love it when an art director says 'Big Al' thinks just the way I do!" I take great pride in getting the job done right the first time. That takes working as a member of the agency's team and keeping the agency informed every step of the way so there are no surprises."

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

Realistic 2D illustration, using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, is not that different from traditional illustration—except changes are a lot easier. Whether it is an illustration or a photo retouching, anything that the agency or their clients may want to change gets their own layer in the Photoshop document. That makes for easy and quick changes. Speaking of retouching, Big Al explains that most agencies have staff retouchers, but he gets the "impossible" jobs—like these examples and others on his website.

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

According to Big Al, 3D illustration is a whole different discipline. It's more photography than illustration—or more correctly "virtual photography." A photographer uses a camera with a choice of lenses—It is the same with 3D. "You have a scene (a location or studio background) and a model and/or props. There are 2 important elements that make or break the realism of a 3-D image: attention to detail and lighting—just like any photograph. Details matter for factors like surface texture, atmosphere, and irregularities. You don't want it too perfect because life isn't perfect."

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

He also explains that details are important when it comes to constructing polygon models, as well. Realistic models of most common things already exist today and can be purchased for very little. As long as the purchased model is highly detailed, it saves the client money to purchase a model rather than taking time to build it. But some art director concepts call for images where models don't exist and so they have to be created: such as a DNA molecule buoy at sea, or a see-through t-cell with an on/off switch, or a walking statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial.

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

Big Al says "What keeps business exciting is that every project is a new challenge—a new problem to solve." A perfect example is a large, recently completed project, not for an agency, but for the Discovery Channel. With an extremely tight deadline, 33 3D dinosaur illustrations were produced for their "My First Dinosaur Encyclopedia." Many of the dinosaur models were available for purchase, but some were commissioned specifically for this project. All the scenes were created with Vue Infinite software and the dinosaurs were posed and positioned in the scenes. Some other models were made for some scenes such as the Diabloceratops' tracks in the snow. Big Al recalls, "The project was great fun, but the schedule was intense." (To see all the dinosaur images and more of Big Al's work go to either of these links:

http://www.aareps.com/portfolios.aspx?id=0&aid=157

http://www.pnworldwide.net/big-al-gruswitz.html

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

Clients are primarily advertising agencies throughout the USA (particularly, NYC, NJ, Philadelphia and Chicago), but Big Al is also represented in Europe by Advocate Art and Vendetta Arts.

Big Al Gruswitz | Boundless Creativity

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