June 6th, 1944
There are a handful of events in human history that are almost too massive to comprehend, things so complicated and dangerous it’s hard to believe they actually happened. Some of those moments are positive, like landing on the moon in 1969, and others are equally epic but a bit gruesome. The Normandy invasions of 1944 marked the beginning of a turning point in World War 2, and basically changed the course of history.
The Allied invasion of Normandy beaches on June 6th, 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in world history. 160,000 soldiers invaded by land, sea, and air. Some people often assume the ‘D’ in ‘D-Day’ stands for something specific, but it actually just stands for ‘Day’. ‘D-Day, H-Hour’ is used for planning a military operation with unknown dates or times. The massive invasion was subject to inclement weather (among a million other potential problems), so ‘D-Day’ was simply a stand-in term for the date of the invasion which was subject to change (and a lot of secrecy).
Among all of the pivotal moments in history, this one simply sticks out to me because it was so visually stunning. Under total secrecy, it places an entire global conflict on one strand of beaches. Entire armies bottlenecked into one location, facing an insane myriad of obstacles, traps, mines, and machine gun fire. It was a surreal, terrifying hellscape of a battle that no one photo or image can really capture.
1998′s Saving Private Ryan and 2001′s Band of Brothers miniseries absolutely do the best job of visually capturing the scope and terror of D-Day, so I watched both in preparation for creating this illustration. Saving Private Ryan places the viewer directly inside a landing boat on Omaha beach, and Band of Brothers shows the paratroopers dropping in at night above Normandy. Day invasion, night invasion, and I was recently asked to make a glow in the dark print for a gallery show, so you can see where this is headed.
The print is a 4 color screen print, using 3 grays in addition to glow in the dark ink. The ‘day’ visible print shows the Allied invasion from the sea. Hundreds of soldiers fighting their way through artillery, machine gun fire, land mines, and Czech Hedgehogs (those x-shaped steel thingies used to stop vehicles). The ‘night’ visible part of the print used glow in the dark ink to show Allied bombers and paratroopers dropping in on Normandy (and being shot down). I referenced dozens of official photos from the invasion in 1944 in addition to the films. The poster is incredibly detailed and took quite some time to draw, but I felt it was important to be accurate to the scale of it all.
The print was originally made for Bottleneck Gallery‘s glow in the dark show, titled “When the Lights Go Out.”
What is an ‘Artist’s Proof’? Artist’s Proofs are the exact same print as the Main Edition, printed on the same paper at the same time. But they are my personal collection of prints, and usually comprise just 5 to 20% of the total print run. The noticeable difference is a lower edition quantity and the marking ‘AP’ written next to the number. Both the Main Edition and the Artist’s Proof are signed by the artist.