Illustration · Life

Good Night, Robin Williams


Robin Williams

(July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

The other day, when I heard that Robin Williams had died, and that it was (at that point) a suspected suicide, it broke my heart. Having grown up watching Williams on TV and in the movies, I had trouble believing that he had taken his own life.

Then when the word came out that he was suffering from depression, and that it really was self-inflicted, it killed me.

Depression is so powerful, so all-encompassing, that even the people who bring joy and laughter to millions aren’t immune to its effects.

I had the idea that I wanted to do a fun illustration of him, kind of an homage, so I started sketching, based off a photo I had found.

The problem is, I am not great at drawing people.

Given that constraint, I thought maybe it would be better if I tried to make it more of a modern piece, where the color and lines weren’t realistic, but representational. Bright colors would lighten the mood, and the picture could be a celebration of a life rather than inspired by his death.

I am also not great at that kind of art.

My wife looked at the picture above and said he looks like “an evil Ronald McDonald.”

And she’s right; this image is scary. But it wasn’t meant to be.

I thought about not posting it, just holding onto it and making it my way of processing the news. It could live in my iPad forever and only show up in screensavers of my camera roll.

But then I began to look at it another way:

There are bright, shiny colors in all of us. Warmth and joy.

There are also dark colors in all of us. Maybe we don’t all suffer with depression, but we all have some parts of ourselves that we keep from the world. Addictions. Vices. Attitudes.

So I decided to post it, and let you see whatever you want to see in it. Is it a scary hamburger-shilling clown, or a flawed effort at capturing a complex man who left us too soon.

It’s up to you.