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Dale Stephanos
Texas Monthly
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When Texas Monthly art director TJ Tucker called last month to ask if I was available to illustrate the cover for their annual “Bumsteers” issue, I felt as though I had received an early Christmas gift. I’m a bit of an obsessive magazine fiend, and Texas Monthly has long been on my radar as one of the great regional magazines in the country from a design perspective. With a slew of all star art directors through recent years including D.J. Stout, Scott Dadich, and now T.J. Tucker, it was both intimidating and really exciting to get the gig.  The Bumsteers edition is basically the Texas Monthly version of the Darwin awards – the “winners” being those who rode the horse over the cliff so to speak. T.J. presented an idea that I loved – basically hammering home Rick Perry’s signature moment in his campaign thus far, the “oops” debate.
 
The subject matter, venue and T.J.’s relaxed direction made this one of my favorite assignments of 2011. I was determined not to make this an “oops” moment.
As I mentioned, the essentials were agreed upon, but the major issue was getting the expression right. Should it be a goofy "What me worry" approach or more of a clueless, brain fart moment.

...we went with the brain fart. After I finish a piece I look back on the sketches and wonder how the hell anyone could have seen where I was going. These, for instance, are bits and pieces of other sketches put together in Photoshop the way we used to do with tracing paper. A stray nose, a mouth that may have not have worked elsewhere.

As I said, my sketches fill me with horror when I look back on them. I think of them more a mumbled suggestions than anything else. Once I start painting (I paint traditionally, but use digital tools), that's when I feel like I can really see where I'm going. Or not.

I love working on the details. I spend more time than I should looking at the sky, clouds. I was playing street hockey with my son and a plane was flying at around 35,000 feet and I noticed the way the contrails broke up. Of course, the little guy used the opportunity to score, but I got some good reference for the "Oops" skywriting.

This was a nice way to end 2011. Maybe not for Rick Perry though. Maybe he'll be too busy campaigning and prepping for debates to notice this boot in the rear.


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Stephanos is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!