Brian Stauffer
June 2008
Good News From AAN
Around this time each year, the AAN hands out it's awards for a range of Newspaper categories spanning the entire jouranlistic process.  This year I was fortunate to receive a handful of nods for which I am grateful.

In the Cover Illustration categorie I received 1st place for my grisly Miami New Times cover, The Suitcase Murders.  I also received 3rd place in the same categorie for another illustration, Guarimba", again for The Miami New Times.

In the Best Cover Design category, Darrick Rainey, who is now at the LA Weekly, won first place for three of his covers for The SF Weekly.  I was honored to have my artwork on one of those awarded.

Beyond the elbow wrenching pat on the back, I wanted to post this news as a plug for the often maligned alt-weekly assignment.  I was an AD at the Miami New Times for 4 years, and remember the difficulty in getting top artists to work for our budgets.

Many of the bonds I've made in the illustration community were made way back as an alt-weely AD, when artists who deserved much more were taking assignments because of the richness of the topics and the relative creative freedom.  And that's the main reason I love working with these folks.  Alt-weeklies often have a lot to prove, up against "established" slick dailies with their massive circulations. Most often what they prove is that the little guy is closer to the ground, and the ground is where the action is.

I remember fondly the intoxication of being part of exposing a corrupt politicain (ok, maybe that got a little boring with all the easy pickin's down here).  I felt like my efforts were significant.  We made a difference, cleaned things-up, bullied them right back.  My sure-fire way of getting a reluctant official to sit for a photo was to threaten them with a Brodner carricature if they would not cooperate (I always hoped they would still refuse so I could assign art). Illustration as blackmail, I love it.

Weeklies are still one of the most immediate ways to get your stuff out there in ink.  I'm addicted to newsprint.  I can't imagine that folks wont always crave a tactile experience of print on pulp. It's where my real design career started, and it directly led to me becoming an illustrator.
The Suitcase Murders for Miami New Times. A local serial killer preys on prostitutes, stuffing their lifeless bodies into suitcases. (definitely a "call stauffer" topic)
Guarimba, for Miami New Times, about a local agitator who is inciting violent protests in Venezuela against Hugo Chavez.
Late Bloomers

A rare genetic trait that results in a unique dwarf-like condition, called Bloom's Syndrome, was the topic for this weeks cover of The Riverfront Times.  This syndrome almost exclusively affects descendants of Jewish heritage, hence the Star of David icons as flowers in "Bloom".

This one was delicate for a couple reasons.  First and foremost, I didn't want to portray the subjects in a way that would exploit their physical differences.  Instead, I wanted to nod to the life of someone who is always looking up at the world.  The woman in the feature is a proud and defiant person who's stature is measured in optimism. 

The other has to to do with how this condition has been twisted as some sort of proof of inferior genetic heritage by white supremacists and hate groups.  I didn't want to give them any imagery that could be twisted for their own use (I've had this happen with Pro-Choce illustrations in the past).  I found this out when I did the customary google search on Blooms Syndrome.  The first few links were to these hate groups, rather than to the support and social networks that "Bloomies" rely on to cope with everyday life.

A big nod goes out to Riverfront Times AD Tom Carlson, and Editor and old pal Tom Finkel.  These guys are amazing to work with.  Tom and I built an extremely fruitful AD/Editor relationship during my 4 years as the art director for New Times in Miami.
Good Medicine

More and more doctors are being faced with patients who consider religious beliefs to be an important part of their healing.  Some doctors are offering prayer, even prayer not of their denomination.  A recent study has shown that it's working for many.

This was the topic of my first, and hopefully not last, assignment from former TIME AD Janet Michaud who has made a soft landing at The Washington Post.  Janet is one of those great AD's - an open mind with high expectations.

This was another chance for me to work some of my drawing "skills" into the final.
I consistently get rich topics from the folks at Pentagram Design.  On this occasion, DJ Stout and Daniella Boebel assigned a full page for an article about the process of reconciliation between warring factions in African conflicts.

The first thing that came to mind was the weapon of choice, the inexpensive and plentiful AK-47.  Every kid should have one.  In fact, in Africa many do.

The sketch and a detail of the final are also included below as an example of how I'm continuing to bring more of my sketching into the final pieces.
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Stauffer is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!