We commissioned a piece of art to represent and celebrate the New Jersey news ecosystem
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process
Earlier this year, as my coworkers and I were coming up with ideas for how to mark the 10 year anniversary of the Center for Cooperative Media, we all agreed that commissioning a piece of artwork would be part of the plan.
We wanted to work with a New Jersey-based artist, so we reached out to our friend and long-time graphic illustrator for the Collaborative Journalism Summit, Derrick Dent, to see if he knew anyone local who might be interested.
Derrick recommended Bloomfield-based artist and illustrator Michael Hoeweler.
Hoeweler’s work has been featured in so many major publications, magazines, events, and other venues that it would be silly to list them all here, but they include The Washington Post, GQ, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The National Park Service, TIME, Le Monde, The Smithsonian Magazine, Bon Appétit, Out Magazine, and The New York Times.
He also created the illustrations and artwork for the 2020 Montclair Film Festival and, after reviewing his portfolio on his website, we knew we’d found the right person for the job.
We were thrilled when he agreed to take on the commission.
The first step in the process was to discuss our vision for the piece and to come up with a concept that we all felt would accurately represent the Garden State’s news and information landscape. We talked about the various media organizations, reporters, and New Jersey paraphernalia that would accurately capture the essence of the local news scene, and we discussed different ways to visually represent and incorporate them into the artwork.
One thing we wanted to emphasize was the interconnected ecosystem view of our news landscape. We told him that we wanted the piece to be interesting and visually engaging when viewed from a distance, but also complex enough that anyone who viewed it up close would be able to get lost in all the little details (and Easter eggs).
Clearly, as you’ll see below, he absolutely nailed it.
Once we had a clear direction for the piece, Hoeweler began working on the initial sketches and concepts. He created several different versions of the artwork, each with its own unique take on the theme. We worked closely with him throughout the process, providing feedback and suggestions on how to make the piece even more reflective of the news ecosystem in New Jersey.
After several weeks of collaboration, Hoeweler presented us with the final version of the artwork, and we were blown away by how well he captured the spirit of the New Jersey news landscape. The piece is a vibrant and dynamic representation of the state’s journalism community, and we are so excited to share it with the world.
We have been (and will continue) showcasing the artwork at events and online whenever possible, and we hope that it will continue to serve as a reminder of the important role that journalism plays in our communities.
We are incredibly grateful to Michael for sharing his talent and for putting so much passion and care into this project, and we look forward to working with him again in the future.
🖼️ Want to order a print of Michael’s artwork?
Email the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make it happen!
🏪 Also, don’t forget to check out our Bonfire store!
You can order all kinds of local news merch, including several items that feature Michael’s piece.
About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.