A gentleman and an artist, with stories that are as fascinating as the subjects he picks for his illustrations. Edward Sorel was generous with his time, conversation and company.
As I walked into his apartment I was anxious and did not know what to expect. Edward put me at ease with good conversation and a few laughs. Thirty minutes later, one of the most memorable portrait sessions took place.
Regaled with stories of the great artists and events in the art world that Edward was a part of, I began to understand why he is so highly esteemed by his contemporaries.
I was fortunate to view his personal collection of cherished illustrations and hear some of the stories behind them.
A great time and engaging conversation; all in the company of a great artist.
Illustrator • Painter • Designer • Author • Pioneer
My portrait session with famed graphic designer and illustrator Seymour Chwast took place in the same location where I had seen him interviewed previously, and now, here I was, and it was my turn. With the pressure on, Seymour in his own distinct way didn’t let me off the hook until the shoot was over. I’m glad he did that.
I had one hour with Seymour. At times it seemed like not enough time and there were those moments which lingered on and then some, as I searched for the next composition.
Seymour gave me some advice at our next meeting, which has proven invaluable to me as I navigate through the graphic design world. His wit on most occasions still keeps me off balance, and I don’t think I would have it any other way.
Designer • Author • Educator
My meeting with Bob Gill was thrilling, educational and filled with passionate conversations on the success and failures of design.
I quickly got the impression that Bob is a force to be reckoned with. Maybe it’s due in part to how deeply he cares about the potential of designers and their work. Clearly not everyone can think outside the box. For the few that can, this doesn’t scratch the surface of what Bob Gill considers great work; because they might not have anything original or interesting to say.
Our conversations revolved around creating visual solutions that grab your attention, make you think, and in the end you smile with the realization that earlier in the day you had no idea of the potential solution out there. And it was worth every ounce of effort put into it because it’s truly original in its voice and execution. It is this that makes him highly regarded as a great educator, and why his work is legendary.
Caricaturist • Illustrator • Activist • Educator
How many stories do we know of that start out It was a rainy day? Well, it was! On this day it was pouring for hours before the portrait session. As I was having lunch in my car, I observed something I don’t often see, a man walking his dog, gleefully and rather loudly whistling a tune.
I could barely make out a slight beard and a glimpse into his eyes. I thought to myself “did I just see Steve Brodner?” Never having seen him in person, I gave myself Vegas odds that was him.
As I got off the elevator I was greeted by Jazz, his dog, and I knew I was right. Steve and I instantly became immersed in a conversation on the riots and surrounding events that took place in 1863 in New York. Over an hour later we eventually worked our way up to the 1950s, touched on current events a bit and got down to the business of portraits.
Steve gets it, as demonstrated in his intense caricatures. He understands the fiber that every successful portrait is made up of, whether we like the truth within, or not.
Illustrator • Designer
Color, color, color. We know his countless theater posters that have become iconic, but how can one really describe his use of color. James McMullan’s posters, no matter how faithfully reproduced, don’t seem to stack up to the vibrance of the real thing.
While standing in his studio, I look over and see some original work to be published soon, amazing! Incredible how he can will colors to do his bidding. James’ colors are a symphony of joy, movement and self expression.
I took full advantage of my time with James and picked his brain about anything and everything color, walking away with a greater appreciation for what colors can be made to do and how far I still have to explore. Based on what I experienced in his studio, I have a long way to go in mastering the language of color.
ANIMATOR • GRAPHIC DESIGNER • CARTOONIST
I’m sitting at the IFC waiting for the screening of Revengeance to begin, and I see Bill Plympton for the first time. It was advertised that Bill would be there, but as the screening time drew closer I figured he’d be a no show. So when he did walk in and quietly sat alone I was surprised by this tall man with a childlike air about him, all in a good way and yet it’s an impression of him that stays with me.
After the film I received my original sketch that he was doing for every movie goer. We spoke about SVA, and a few people I had photographed, I was surprised as hell when he said “…oh yes!!! I know R.O. Blechman, so you did his portrait?” By now I shouldn’t be surprised by how many of these greats know each other, but I still am. The fact that I photographed R.O. Blechman probably helped me seal the deal for Bill’s portrait.
Bill gave me an hour from his busy schedule for his portrait. After we talked a bit, I had close to fifty minutes left, but after I set up it was more like forty minutes. I figured why not ask Bill to do a self-portrait as I did his portrait. His hand frenetically went across the paper slowly revealing his portrait, “how’s this looking? faster, slower? almost done!”
Seeing his portrait come to life can’t be put into words, yet it never fails to put a smile on my face.
ILLUSTRATOR • ARTIST
One night I’m listening to Anita Kunz speak at the Art as Witness: Political Graphics panel discussion, then a few weeks later we’re collaborating on her portrait.
I introduce myself after the discussion and ask Anita about her Trump cover for Variety magazine, inspired by George Lois’ Esquire cover of Nixon.
The conversation is flowing, we’re walking and talking and it happens, Anita turns sharply, points and asks “what do you do!?” Strapped as I usually am, I reach for my camera and before I can grab it, “I know you!! You’re the guy taking pictures of illustrators!!” I’m thinking ‘not bad, how in the world did you know?’ Turns out earlier in the day this came up in conversation with Seymour Chwast, big thanks to Seymour.
I ask if I can do her portrait, Anita agrees; the next time she’s in New York. I could be dead by then I’m thinking, so I ask where she’s from, Toronto; (I always said I’d go anywhere for the shot). I plan on eight hours doing ninety the whole way, I’ll be in Toronto in no time; umm not exactly. Rain, lots of fog, cold weather and speeding trailers added quite a few hours to my trip, but damn was it worth it.
Anita’a portrait, like my drive, was quite a journey.
Animator • Illustrator • Author
“I’m game,” the first words I hear back from R.O. Blechman. Normally this wouldn’t mean more than a yes, but we’re both from Brooklyn, to us, it’s go big or go home. We met, exchanged pleasantries and hit it off. Once I felt that I survived whatever real or imagined microscope I was under, we began our portrait session.
We talked design, looked through his vast book collection, and admired a prized illustration by Steinberg. Throughout the day we got to know each other while discussing any topic I asked advice about. Over lunch, (a huge surprise) I really let the questions flow. He kindly answered with sincere guidance, was extremely cordial, open, and kindly offered his insights into my quandaries.
Days later in my office, while working on his proof, I receive a package addressed with an unmistakable handwriting. Blechman sent me a package!! It was real, here in my hands a package from one of the greats. Yet at that moment, I didn’t realize the importance of his gift.
After staring at the package for some twenty minutes, I delicately unwrapped my own inscribed copy of Dear James, Letters to a Young Illustrator. I can’t overstate the importance of this book to aspiring artists, especially those in art school. I would read it on the subway, where I usually go to work out my ideas. After a couple of chapters in, I felt as if, I was James.
R.O. Blechman was guiding, mentoring, and speaking to me through this book. Sharing the knowledge of his experiences, joys, triumphs, and reflections. Maybe the best thing I can say about my gift is that I would go back a chapter or two and start over to prolong the inevitable, reaching the final chapter; which would end this amazing conversation.