Mother Jones
posted: January 7, 2009
I guess it’s okay for me to piggyback on Harry Campbell’s post here.

Over the last year or so I’ve become a big fan of Mother Jones magazine. Sure, they have groundbreaking reportage and all around good writing, but as a guy who enjoys looking at pictures I’ve been impressed with just how much illustration they use. So when creative director Tim Luddy called and asked if I had time to do a cover for their inauguration issue I felt like I had just been given a winning lottery ticket.

Tim had the idea of quoting a 1935 Saturday Evening Post cover, which was painted by the legendary J.C. Leyendecker.  We tried a couple of different approaches to the baby new year theme – top hat, no top hat, different expressions, but I think keeping it simple was important. After working on this for a while I started to relate to the image itself – you walk a fine line between satire and ridicule doing what I do. I generally don’t like when the former turns into the latter, which can easily happen when  you get some momentum going. Still, it’s not often that a man can look back on his day of work and proudly say that he was paid to draw the president of the United States in a diaper.

As is often the case, this issue of mother Jones is full of top notch illustration ( and photography, but that’s not my tribe), and I’m thankful to Tim Luddy for seeing the value in what we do. It’s obvious that many of us bring our A game when Tim calls. I’m honored to share the same spot on the newssstand with many of my favorite fellow artists. I’ve included many below, but if I missed you, it’s only because it was time to go shovel.
David Flaherty January 7, 2009
holy shit!
John Dykes January 7, 2009
Dale - Congrats on this assignment - and for pulling thru in a big way. It is indeed inspiring to see illustration on the newsstands.... And kudos to Tim and Mother Jones for their use of lots of it.
Howard Wright January 7, 2009
I thought this looked a bit familiar. My wife got me the new coffee table book on JC Leyendecker for Xmas so he's fresh in my mind. Great book by the way on a truly underrated master. Nice homage Dale!
Hanoch Piven January 7, 2009
wow what a collection! great cover Dale!!!
Harry January 7, 2009
Man!! That is the mother-load of illustration!!!! Dale-I'm glad you posted the extended and fully illustrated version here. Parada's piece is cracking me up, wholly cow. All great of course. All hail Tim!!! and all the other art directors that are keeping illustration alive.
Tim J Luddy January 7, 2009
Thanks to Dale and the rest of the illustrators in this issue and the others, for making us look good and for contributing to a national dialogue on essential issues. I'd like to point out that one reason that artists of your caliber answer my calls is the standard of excellence in illustration that was established at Mother Jones from the beginning. Founding art director Louise Kollenbaum commissioned Dugald Stermer to do our very first cover, and that tradition has continued to be nurtured by people including Jane Palecek, George McCalman, and my predecessor Susan Scandrett, among many others. And current art director Carolyn Perot assigned half of the illustrations that Dale posted.
David Goldin January 7, 2009
Congrats Dale. Killer assignment. Good work fella.
Roberto Parada January 8, 2009
Dale, NICE!!! I'm getting my issue this week. Isn't it nice to see how well Tim Luddy, at Mother Jones, used illustration for this most fun issue. Great Job.
Chris Buzelli January 8, 2009
Big Congratulation Dale. The cover looks great. I love seeing the process of the concept.
Bob Staake January 8, 2009
you're a lucky man, stephanos, to get the chance to channel leyendecker like that. i've heard stories about leyendecker being pretty (ahem) "flamboyant", so just be careful about what neightborhoods you go into with those tight bike shorts of yours. i'm just sayin'.
Adam McCauley January 9, 2009
Dale, I just today got this in the mail. Your cover looks great, congratulations on a really well done job. You're right, the issue has some killer illustrations in it, but even more importantly some killer editorial content! My favorites (sorry to offend anyone) are Roberto Parada's. Just hilarious.
Dale Stephanos January 9, 2009
David, I agree. Howard, this job was a great excuse to splurge on that book. Thanks. Hanoch, thanks a lot. Harry, it seems like most issues of MJ are chock full of great images, and Adam, I agree - the writing is right on target. Tim, thanks(again). Judging by our conversations it feels like we're both fans of the people who do what we do. It's some pretty hunbling company, but I'll just trust youir judgement. David, thanks fella! Roberto, as Adam and Harry mentioned your work in there was fantastic. Whenever I see your stuff I need to find a place to sit down and just study the painting for a while. I think my wife gets sick of me saying "Look at this. LOOK AT THIS". Bob. Bob Bob Bob. I've heard that JC put the "Lay" in Leyendecker. My channeling was limited to fancy drinks, a sudden uptick in my wardrobe, and an aura of Fabulousness in general. And I ride pretty fast, so live and let live.
randy enos January 13, 2009
No Dale....when The Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, TV Guide, Time, Fortune, Reader's Digest, Collier's, Holiday, Mad and Life were all on the newsstand next to each other and Life stuck out like a sore thumb because it had a photograph on the cover....that's when illustration was alive and well.
Dale Stephanos January 13, 2009
Good point Randy. Maybe I should sign up for that blacksmithing class...
J.D. King January 19, 2009
Dale, you and Drew have similar styles, both have recently done Obama magazine covers, and both of you have a girl's name that begin with a D. I wonder if there's anything to that?