Dale Stephanos
September 2007
Society of Illustrators entries
See any winners?
I'm taking an hour or so from actual work to make my annual donation to the Society of Illustrators in the form of entries for the Annual. I'm getting better about throwing the obvious losers out and I've narrowed it down to only a few pieces. I've been in the show a few times, but more often than not, I get shut out. I'm hoping this year's jury is good and drunk by the time they get to my work so that I can get some work into the show and not feel like a tool for hanging out at the opening in February without having some art hanging on the walls.

By the way, we should all just enter a piece under Staake's name so it looks like he cares about this sort of thing.
Water Mob
"And if I see ANY grass growing, I'm coming back!"
Around these parts we generally have green lawns, kids running through sprinklers on a hot day and such an abundance of water that it seems to just fall from the sky. I’m told that it’s not like that everywhere though, especially in the Southwest.

This was done for a small alternative weekly in Santa Fe – The Santa Fe Reporter. The story is about how the local authorities have taken to using strongarm tactics against the top ten water use abusers in the area. Angela Moore,  the AD, suggested a mob type in a threatening position. Kinking up the hose like he was breaking a leg got the idea of “You might want to turn the faucet OFF”across. A couple of years ago I told myself that I would no longer do much work for these small weeklies where I got my start, but I’m often drawn back by the lure of interesting stories and almost complete artistic freedom. Let’s face it, I like working, period.

When we first moved into our house back in the nineties we had to put a new lawn in, and after spending a few grand on the whole process, I’d be damned if I let it all go to waste and not water the sucker. Of course, there were water restrictions in place (even after a record rainfall that spring), and the local inspector happened to drive by while I had the sprinkler going and he gave me a ticket for about $50. So now I NEVER water my lawn.  It is mysteriously green though.
A particularly unattractive piece of reference.
Adam Rex
I believe in shouting out when the subject's worth the shout. I just discovered Adam Rex via Irene Gallo's (excellent) blog. This guy kills me! Great art, and a screwy sense of humor.
I spent the morning laughing and clicking through his website:
Seeing what you believe, see?
I started this as a doodle while I was on the phone. When I began, the proportions where "correct", but I didn't see Sean Penn in there, just his likeness. After a drawing version of "Fight Club" ensued I finally whipped him into shape.
For a long time now I’ve wondered why I tend towards exaggeration. It’s not an intentional thing, but more a reflexive impulse to underline and emphasize the way I see things.

I’ve tried drawing over projected images a la Norman Rockwell (I used to call this “tracing”, but there’s more to it than that.)
I’ve tried grid drawing, and the drawing on the right side of the brain thing. To me, things never look quite right until I’ve thrown some elbows and pushed the subject around a bit until I get things my way.

I think I actually see in exaggeration. People look like this to me.

Lou Brooks put it best over on Zina Saunders great portrait of Joe Newton –“Same uncanny quality as the great comic book masters. By that I mean, if you begin to deconstruct their drawings, you can easily feel that it's drawn all wrong -- but really, it's oh so right! And moving anything in the drawing around causes it to start to collapse, because it is not a literal interpretation at all, but some weird delightful thing in the wiring between their eye and hand. They just see things incorrectly -- which is really 100% correct.

Jules Pfeiffer said something or other once (boy, do I gotta paraphrase here) about artists being able to paint the sky red because they already know it's blue... and them there NORMAL people GOTTA paint it blue, because otherwise, everybody will think they're stupid.”

I’ve been enjoying just plain drawing lately, and there are times when I’d love to say to an art director that we shouldn’t go past the sketch phase, because it won’t get any better, it’ll just be more “finished”.
Newsweek International Edition
Brown, Merkel, and Sarkozy
I have figured out the secret to getting the plum jobs in this business. You want a Rolling Stone cover?  Are things a little slow and even a half pager would make you happy? Hey, what about a Newsweek cover?

Plan a vacation.

Even better than that, plan a vacation around a bike race that you’ve trained 2 months for.

That’s right, all you need to do is get all your vacation ducks in a row, pack things up, get all the paraphernalia you need for a weekend of fun/suffering, put one foot out the door, and with your hand on the key that’s in the door as you’re closing it, stop and listen. Hear that? It’s the cash register. Or, as we call it here, the phone.

It was Adolfo Valle from Newsweek International looking for a cover, due the next day.  “Can you do it”? Adolfo asked after giving me the particulars of the gig. I said sure, and saw my weekend evaporate in one syllable. The job itself went so easily that I was starting to worry. I sent the first sketch and Adolfo told me that the editors had no changes at all and go ahead with the final. The piece is about how the European countries are still pro-America despite their misgivings about our leadership at this moment. 24 hours later, I pressed “send” and off it went.

I’m lucky to have a family that not only doesn’t mind stopping on a dime and changing directions, but enjoys it. We were all excited about this particular job. The only thing that’s a drag is that I won’t see it on the newsstands. If any of our European or Latin readers see it out there, let me know.
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