Golden Gate

Golden Gate: Building the Mighty Bridge is my first illustration project with author Elizabeth Partridge. This picture book tells the story of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and will be published by Chronicle Books on October 8th, 2024.

During the depths of the Great Depression, across a strait where deep ocean waters rip back and forth with the tides, daring teams of engineers and builders set out to make something many thought impossible.

Begun in 1933 and officially opened on May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge and its awe-inspiring construction are a testament to the power of engineering and perseverance. Told from the point of view of the lighthouse keeper’s kids, who watch as trucks and crews arrive and steel towers coated in heavy red paint begin to rise above the tempestuous water, Golden Gate follows each stage of the construction project from concept to completion.

Illustrator’s Note

In this book, the author and I wanted to tell both the thrilling construction story of the Golden Gate Bridge, and also more broadly, a story about the transformation that we experience when we stand at a turning point in history—when impossible becomes possible.

To focus on these transformations in pictures, I used printmaking to illustrate change and color as a metaphor for possibility. For views of the bridge, one of which repeats several times at different stages of construction, I carved straight architectural lines into a printmaking plate, adding rivets with dots of thick paint that stuck up from the surface. Then I covered those lines and dots with ink and printed the image several times onto bright red-orange paper. Every time, the print was a little bit different. Over each of these prints, the changing water and weather around (and sometimes over) the bridge appears. On early pages, there are hints of what will be built, while later, fog erases the bridge and recalls a time before construction. Printmaking allowed me, like the narrator, to frequently revisit a place and notice the ways in which it was both the same and different over time.

The vibrant International Orange of the finished bridge is the foundation of every illustration. Starting with prints on red-orange paper meant that I spent little time painting the bridge itself and lots of time on the land, weather, and water around it. Early in the story, most of the paper is obscured by the blues and grays of the landscape. As workers build, the underlying color progressively grows more prominent. This vivid color became, to me, a symbol for possibility—not only for the Golden Gate Bridge itself but also for other kinds of bridging. I am inspired by the visual message that possibility is always present, and it is people and their work that reveal it.