Arielle Jovellanos, a New York–based freelance comics artist and illustrator, did not throw away her shot when a Hamilton cast member, after seeing some of her work, granted her a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the cast and crew of the award-winning musical. To show her appreciation, Jovellanos decided to create a special compilation of Hamilton fan art to present to the company.
But to do it right, she needed a little help. So she summoned a cadre of artists to join her project — 45 contributors total, one for nearly all of the 46 tracks on the best-selling Hamilton original cast recording.
Jovellanos printed only enough copies of her art-filled zine (the fandom term for a low-fi printing of fan art, fanfiction, or other fan writing) to give one to each member of Hamilton's cast and crew. Modeled after the Revolutionary-era hand-distributed pamphlets that Founding Father Alexander Hamilton himself once wrote, it also featured a frontispiece that paid homage to the distinctive design of the "Hamiltome," a.k.a. composer Lin-Manuel Miranda's annotated, extra-detailed publication of the musical's libretto.
Inside were 47 stunning pieces of artwork.
The illustrations, which are arranged chronologically as they are performed in the musical, represent a gorgeous array of art styles and offer a surprisingly detailed look at the widely varied moods and dynamic emotional range of the show itself:
In an email to Vox, Jovellanos said she'd been a big fan of Hamilton since it started previews in February of 2015. "I come from a family of immigrants so I really connected deeply with [Miranda's] lyrics. Seeing a diverse cast completely killing it on Broadway meant so much to me."
A few months after Jovellanos's artwork featuring one of the cast members drew attention on Twitter this past January, Hamilton ensemble performer Seth Stewart contacted her and offered to bring her backstage to meet the company the next time she came to see the show; at the time, she already happened to have tickets for June.
With only six weeks to devise something truly special for the occasion, Jovellanos realized it was the perfect moment to reach out to her community of Hamilton friends and artists. "It was clear I wasn't the only artist who had the cast recording on repeat, that Hamilton meant so much to so many people, and that the range of artists who love Hamilton is just as diverse as the cast itself," she told me.
The full list of artists includes well-known pros like Kate Leth as well as fan artists like @maeng. The zine is not for sale to the public — it was a gift for the cast only — but Jovellanos has posted the entire thing on her website.
"I'm forever grateful to the artists and the cast for making magic happen," she said.