peace and variations

peace fountain

this is the archangel michael, leader of the heavenly host, acquainting himself with a passing giraffe.

greg wyatt‘s massive stone peace fountain sits beside the cathedral of st. john the divine, a progressive episcopal church in manhattan’s morningside heights. fountain and cathedral while the eclectic sculpture has struck some visitors as unfocused, it is intended to present the reconciliation of the world’s opposing forces in god’s peace. by my reckoning, no fewer than three such ecumenical gestures are proposed by the above detail, in which the fiercest of angels is seen getting cozy with the most placid of beasts.

[ this illustration was requested by ayun halliday, editor of the zinester’s guide to n.y.c. (forthcoming from microcosm) and will hopefully appear therein. while working on the drawing, i found myself paralyzed by a predictable bout of self-doubt, and sought guidance from my beloved readers. that original conversation is preserved below. ]

peace fountain a


i’m a week past deadline for an illustration of st. john the divine’s peace fountain for a forthcoming new york city guidebook. i made a few different versions, and don’t trust myself enough to decide among them. but in you, dear readers, my trust is unfaltering.

please advise.

[ note: the images may be easiest to compare if you click one and cycle through them with the “next” and “previous” links. ]

peace fountain b

peace fountain c


  1. josh says:

    My vote’s for B! It “reads” easiest to me. Although I do like the spot color on C, B’s my favorite.

  2. Keera says:

    I like the one with color best; though it should be noted that they’re all beautiful.

  3. Erin says:

    I vote for #2; I agree with josh that it reads easiest.

  4. ribbu says:

    I’m all for the third one with color. I know I might be just doing the regular “everything looks better in color” thing, but I think it adds some dimension and warmth. Otherwise, #2. The black fill in #1 is a little ominous. But they’re all three quite nice.

  5. boy blue says:

    one thing i probably should have mentioned:

    the book is going to be printed in black and an single color, which has been described to me as “sage green.” i’m guessing, above, as to what precisely that color may be, but in the book, it’s out of my control.

  6. Neil says:

    Initially #2 was my favorite, though #3 definitely helps make St. John’s face pop out. No. I like #2 more.

  7. 'jane says:

    #2, definitely. If 2 is out for some reason, then 3. But I find 1 too hard to see. 2 is gorgeous.

  8. mouser says:

    yo kb! whassup! I’ve just checked out your three images, and contrary to common opinion I have to say #1 was my initial favourite. I actually find #2 and #3 harder to read because of the extra detail in the dude’s wings, muscles, etc! I like the simplicity and purity of #1; it reminds me of a german expressionist woodcut… and then I read everyone else’s comments.
    I still really don’t particularly dig #3 (it feels like the addition of the sage green breaks up the impact of the piece too much) but have started to reconsider #2. On consideration, what impressed me so much about #1 was the power of the chiaroscuro behind the angel’s face. And so my final suggestion is #2 with the addition of the black shadow behind the left of #1’s face. Or just #1.
    Pretty awesome project fella!

  9. Lynn Prisco says:

    Kenan! number two! That way you can control what the color. It took me a few minutes to figure out the animal shape, you might tweek the area around the ears.
    Love it though, very strong. love from mrs. P

  10. Mel says:

    After much consideration, I have to side with #2. Although they’re all wonderful, I think that 1 doesn’t have enough detail and 3 is great but the lines really pop on 2. So yea, I vote for 2. Great job though!!

  11. Eliezer says:

    My non-artist opinion is for B.

  12. mad dogg says:

    I’m sure I’m too late but I think #2…The surrounding detail is beautiful and the b & w is more striking to me than the one with color.
    though that is my favorite shade of green. you make really pretty drawings.

  13. boy blue says:

    so this proved extremely helpful.

    also interesting: design-oriented folks tended toward a, indie comiceurs and zine-kids liked b, and those with more commercially viable styles and tastes went for c. it suggested to me that each has an appropriate context; the challenge was then to determine which was best-suited to this job.

    i’ve added the votes here to the ones cast on facebook and those delivered via e-mail, instant messages, and actual conversation. the final tallies are as follows:

    a: 3 votes
    b: 11 votes
    c: 5.5 votes (ribbu’s vote counts one-and-a-half times)

    and 2 people suggested a modified version of b that works some of the blacks from a back in, which i tried and ultimately submitted. i’ll post the final version, along with some further details about the illustration and the book it’s intended for, soon.

    also, you kids should get gravatars.

    thanks, friends.