J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

About the Cover for “I am my father’s son”

Image The cover of this book makes me stupidly happy for several reasons.

The original piece was a self-portrait my father did years ago.  It was a painting of a picture from his senior piano recital.  In his passing, I uncovered and recovered the photo with which Sam used to paint himself.  Both that photo and the first version of that painting were intensely black, dark and mysterious.

The painting came to me around my junior year of college.  Sam was cleaning out his office and asked me if I wanted it.  I of course did.  But Sam warned that it was in bad shape and to be careful with it.

So here I was in my dorm room with this moody, dark painting of my father. My good friend, Jonathan Grauel, was also interest in it, and when he learned it needed restoring, he offered to adapt it, change it, reinterpret it.  I jumped at the opportunity.

What resulted is this deep, rich portrait of my father that has been cared for and transformed through the deeply talented eye and hand of my friend.

I couldn’t imagine a better cover for this book.

Then I had another idea.  I am a terrible graphic artist, so Jonny as I call him often works on my book covers for me.  But this time, I wanted to surprise and honor him as well, but I lacked the ability to design a proper cover using this portrait.

Enter my other good friend John Brenton Phillips.  John is also an artist and a friend from ECU like Jon Grauel.  John and I were friends in our freshman dorm, but as life would have it, we lost touch for nearly twenty years.  Then one day, John gives me a call out of the blue, we grab dinner together, and our friendship is rekindled.

When I ask John to take on the cover photo, he jumped at the task, and the result is nothing less than amazing.

So as you approach this book, the cover gives honor to my dad, the eye-popping color is due to my friend Jonathan Grauel, the graphics are the work of my friend John Brenton Philips, and the words are mine.

Sam brought together friends from across various backgrounds and a bunch of years on this one.  I hope you enjoy the visual art as much as the art of words.

If you would like to explore Jonathan’s art more, you can find his online studio at http://www.bluestudioonline.com/, and if you would like to learn more about John’s graphics’ business, you can find them at http://waxingdigital.com/

Thanks to the so many who inspire and encourage me.


You can purchase this book at



PDF Download

March 6, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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