The Alton Illustrated Project R
Executing sketches of Landmarks, Icons, and Architecture in Alton, Illinois, highlighting and celebrating the complex, rich, and contrasting textures that make up life in our unique city.
About Jim Needham
In 2006 Alton gained a new male resident who was working as a Senior Designer for May Department Stores. With the finalization of the Macy’s merger, Jim was quickly snapped up by an aggressive Mall Developer, Westfield LLC, working as a designer and a Director of Tenant Coordination. He was assigned to many malls over the years, landing for an extended period in Florida for Westfield.
Jim established residence there but commuted back and forth to his Alton home from 2010 to 2020.
Fast forward to April of 2020 and the Pandemic that swept the nation. Unibail Rodamco Westfield chose to
restructure its involvement in Florida, stepping out of several malls, and providing a severence to Jim.
“This did not really cause a hiccup or heartburn, as my wife and I had planned my retirement being October of 2020” Jim reacts. “We were ready for that transition, and quickly established an LLC called ‘Blue Rocker Design’ to focus on retail, design, graphics and art.
Enter: The Alton Illustrated Project R - ” As a designer, I have always been a student of rendering techniques. Throughout my career, I would illustrate my designs and present them on a regular basis. I worked in inkline, watercolor, and 3d photorealistic computer renderings.“
Jim’s love for inkline renderings stepped into the fore when Covid kept everyone at home. “I decided to use the lockdown period to explore the rich architecture of the City of Alton, and illustrate it using techniques I developed over the years. Photographs were always an important resource in my professional work, so I began photographing homes, landmarks, and vistas in Alton that interested me.”
Jim then used the photographs as the baseline for drawing in his own unique style. Using Adobe Illustrator, he was able to draw and create illustrations that depict the enormity of rich experience that is Alton.
Jim has a vision for providing his work as a portable showcase of Alton illustrations for use at locally focused events. “I am hoping this can be an inspirational discussion centerpiece that is uniquely Alton, a show that becomes an ambassador for the Alton experience, highlighting not only the history, but the fun and the charm of living here”