Dale Stephanos
March 2007
Scotch and Cigars?
A lot of you have shown me your, so I'll show you mine.
We're gonna have a little talk.
I’m working on a Sopranos piece right now, which made me think of another job I did a while back on the godfather of the mob genre, that’s right, The Godfather.

This was done around the time Mario Puzo, the author of the Godfather books died, and the article examined Puzo’s impact on our view of the Mafia (You know, it doesn’t really exist!) as well as the Mafia’s own self image.

There was a dispute between the AD and the Editor. The AD ended up with his you know what in his mouth, tied up in the trunk of his car with two in the hat and thrown into the East River.

Not really.

The AD wanted an image of Marlon Brando, because he’s instantly recognizable as the Godfather. The editor wanted an image of Mario Puzo because “The article is about Mario Puzo, not Marlon Brando”.

I got a lot of reference of both guys and tried to do a mash up of the two (even though that term wouldn’t come into use for another 6 years or so). Also, I got the book and tore pages out and matte mediumed them down on the canvas.

They loved the final. The AD said “Great Brando” and the editor said “Great Puzo”.

This is back when I was trying to be an oil painter. I remember that I’d always try to be making things finer, smoother, more realistic. Now that I work digitally it’s the opposite. I try to leave some kind of evidence that a hand created the work.
Torturing kids is fun
Just in case you didn't appreciate Steve Brodner's person of the day series, you will after this. I spend my mornings ricocheting between Howard Stern and NPR while catching up on important news in the papers and of course, Drawger. On Stern’s show, they’re excited about a website called, whose mission is to subvert the voting process on American Idol by, you guessed it, voting for the worst person there. The consensus “worst” by far this season is this poor kid Sanjaya. Each week he survives, he looks more shocked than anyone. He’s like a black hole when it comes to charisma and talent. I think what started out as a wonderful experience will turn into the defining ugly episode in his life. My heart goes out to him. American Idol is one of the few prime time shows that I’m comfortable watching with my children. After the initial audition period at least, where they routinely humiliate those self-delusional, attention seeking souls who just want some attention. But even at 6 and 9 years old, my kids recognize that Sanjaya should be put out of his misery and voted off. Last week, my daughter moaned “My GOD, what is America DOING”? Wait until she’s old enough to understand politics!
Where's the credit?
Willie Nelson after a Annie Leibovitz photo. Okay, I added the American flag.
Everyone was so complimentary about the Sinead sketch I posted yesterday that for a minute, I thought I was getting pretty good at this. But then I remembered Laura Levine’s photo that I used as reference, and I remembered where a good deal of the credit should go to.

I’m as dependent on good reference material as anyone. What I usually do is gather up as much as I can and sort of mash it all together to form a likeness. After that, I’ll shoot reference photos of myself just for lighting and pose. Sometimes though, you come across the perfect photo, and it says “PAINT ME”!

I avoid lifting directly from photos when I can, but when I can’t, I’d like to acknowledge the source material. But if it’s a choice between my name or the name of a photographer in the tiny, hard to find fold where the AD has crammed my name, get out of my way.

I know there are at least a couple of art directors here as well as those of us who create likenesses. I’ve never been sure just what the ethics are in this area. I'm not one of you fancy pants art school types, so I was never told "Thou shalt not ..."

The New York Times once asked whose photos I used, but that was the only time.

So when is credit due?

By the way, this Willie Nelson is from a photo by the great Annie Leibovitz.
Teddy and Jack
Ted and Jack
There were one or two or three posts on my old blog that I wished I could have put up here because I thought the Drawger community would enjoy them. Here's one.

I've never been a big Kennedy fan. Here in the Boston area, the Kennedy's are like royalty. And like royalty, the public seems to be split into lovers and haters. I've never been either, but if pushed, I'd usually be in the more critical camp.

Last year, though, my wife had the opportunity to interview Teddy at his home in Hyannisport. She's one of the few journalists I've seen who has managed to get him to reveal himself as a real human being instead of the caricature that we're usually presented with (Often by yours truly).

He went through his home with her, showing old photos of the family, telling stories about when he was a kid walking on the beach with his mother, and most interestingly to me, about the small artistic rivalry he had with his brother Jack. At one point he stopped in front of a painting Jack had done when he was young (not bad) and explained that Jack was the better painter of the two, but Ted explained that he always tried to keep up. He seemed choked up. It was a rare moment of vulnerability and he kind of won me over. I've been looking at him as, well, more human since then.

My wife later recounted her story at a family gathering that was full of, let's just say, not Kennedy fans. She felt honored to have been able to sit in a historic home and speak frankly with a true historical figure, and get paid for it. Instead of saying "Wow, what a great experience", there were lots of "I hate that guy" type comments. It got me thinking about how in politics, we easily dehumanize the other side so that it's easier to ignore their point of view.

This piece took a lot of twists and turns. I'm still not sure if I'm done or if it will take another turn, but here it is. I'm also showing a Ted Kennedy that I did about 10 years ago. It shows the evolution I've made in a number of ways. Not bettter, but different.
Ted K as the winner of Survivor.
Sinead O'Connor from a Laura Levine photo
I'll make my first post here at Drawger totally Drawger-centric. This sketch is a departure from what I normally do. I'd usually spend another 6 hours or so beating the life out of what looked really nice after 5 minutes of drawing.

This is from a photo that fellow Drawger gal and all around super cool renaissance chick Laura Levine shot back before Sinead was Sinead.

I want to extend a big thanks to Edel for the invite, and to Bob Staake for making me feel welcome waaaaay back. Same goes for Leo, Rob D, Rob S, Zina, David Flaherty and Tim O'Brien.

An especially big thanks to David Bamundo for the original invite, and  of course, to Zimm. This is a very cool hangout. I'm happy to be here.

I only hope to live up to half of what Monkeysong was.
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Stephanos is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!