Saturday, November 8, 2008

All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't)




To see all my illustration portfolio samples, visit stevensalerno.com 

This week I was invited to the book publication/author signing party here in Manhattan of the new book, “All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't) -Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page” published by the Columbia University Press. It is written by Jerelle Kraus, the NY Times Op-Ed Page art director (and image contributor) from 1979 through 1992... I received my invitation to the event due to having been a regular contributor of social & political drawings to the NY Times Op-Ed Page from 1980 through 1985, and then only sporadically after that. 

Back in 1979, when I graduated from Parsons School of Design, one of my instructors was J.C. Suares, the well-known art director, designer, illustrator, and film maker... and who was then the art director of New York magazine, and also had been the art director of the NY Times Op-Ed Page before Jerelle Kraus. Upon my graduation he immediately began commissioning me to create illustrations for New York magazine, and one day at New York magazine he pulled me aside and told me to visit Jerelle Kraus at The New York Times, to show her my portfolio, as she was the new art director of the famed Op-Ed Page. 

Jerelle saw something she liked in the dark, organic, line drawings I was doing at the time, and subsequently she began hiring me to create drawings for the Op-Ed page, as well as for the Letters to the Editor page. I was only 21 years old when I had my first Op-Ed Page drawing appear in The New York Times! When I reflect back, it seems like a lifetime ago... and a fuzzy dream that I had been so lucky to have participated in creating images for that world stage at such a young age. (I think myself, and fellow image-makers Martin Kozlowski (aka KOZ), and Mark Podwal all share the distinction of having been the youngest contributors to The New York Times Op-Ed Page at age 21.) 

At the book signing event, I met with Jerelle, the first time I had seen her in about 23 years, and she graciously signed a copy of the book with a warm inscription to me. I expressed what an honor it is to have been a part of the Op-Ed Page's graphic history. Thus far I have only read parts of the book, but it is a fascinating account of her interactions with the artists and her head-butting with the editors. I remember back in the early 80's when I would deliver my drawings to her office at the Times (remember, this was before the fax, personal computer and internet!), on the wall I always saw a photo of her in the Oval Office with President Richard Nixon... and now, in this book, I finally learned the story behind the photo. 

Posted above is the cover of Jerelle's wonderful new book, and also one of my drawings (from about 1982) included in the book... an image about the Soviet's bloated military budget relative to their meager social program expenditures.

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