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The New York Times Op-Ed Letters Art Gets Respect!

APRIL 28, 2008
My family and I visited The New York Times in its new headquarters last Thursday for the opening of the exhibit “The Illustrated Letter: Four Decades of Letters to the Editor Spots”. Curated by Times art directors Nicholas Blechman and Brian Rea, this terrific exhibit is a collection of 300 illustrations “culled from over 13,500…produced by a remarkable repertory of national and international artists spanning the past four decades”.
The view of the entrance to the gallery from the elevators.
The exhibit description which appears on the wall at the entrance to the gallery.
My daughter underneath the video screens where some of the artwork is presented as slideshows.
I did my first Letters assignment at the Times for art director Mirko Ilic in 1993. Since then I’ve worked on Letters with Nicholas Blechman, Jerelle Kraus, Peter Buchanan-Smith, Steven Guarnaccia, John Hendrix, Brian Rea, Sam Weber and Kim Bost, and have created about 50 Letters illustrations altogether. These assignments have always been among my favorites, and have had a huge impact on the way that I draw and think about illustration. They are a continuous thread that runs through the fabric of my work over the years. I'm very proud that five of my Letters illustrations are included in this exhibit.

I really enjoyed meeting other Letters artists for the first time. I feel like we have an affinity with each other: we know what we go through to complete these often grueling assignments. We seem to agree that we often do our best work when faced with the tight deadlines and parameters of Letters assignments.
Two of my three children helping to give a sense of scale to the poster-size images.
My friend Marcellus Hall. He has several illustrations in the exhibit, including the one on the wall at top left .
The exhibit gives the art a lot of respect. Some of these illustrations are enlarged to poster size.  Many have been reproduced from older print archives, resulting in the texture of the newsprint showing through in solid black areas – a wonderful look that reminds me of woodcut prints.
Artist, former NYT Op-Ed art director, and current Parsons illustration department chair Steven Guarnaccia (on the right) with the artist David Suter and family. To me, David Suter's artwork is synonymous with the Op-Ed pages at The New York Times.
It meant a lot to me that my family was able to come. My children are growing up seeing my work published in the newspaper that is delivered with a SLAP! onto our doorstep each morning. Now they have a sense of where the newspaper comes from, and who Brian and Kim, my mysterious clients, really are.
My children having some fun after the show in the downstairs lobby. We had to do an emergency diaper changing there. Thank you to the sympathetic guards!