Dale Stephanos
Exit 2013 Washington Post Magazine
2013 was quite a year, wasn't it? Personally it was a very good year for me in many respects. I won't go all internet brag over it, but I acheived some things outside of my professional life that I'm quite proud of. For many though, it was a year of loss, upheaval, shifting ground and shaken foundations. I hope those of you I call friends made it through relatively intact with health and humor.
This was a fun and challenging year end assignment from Beth Broadwater at the Washington Post Magazine. I was already swamped with work when she reached out to check on my availability to do a cover, spread and a handful of spots. At first I thought I couldn't fit all that in with the time allowed, but after seeing some of the names - Rob Ford! Anthony Weiner!! Miley Cyrus!!! - I remembered that this was exactly the kind of assignment that I'd see illustrators like Steve Brodner, C.F. Payne, Drew Friedman, Victor Juhasz pull off that made me want to get into this business. By the way, those names there? The exact opposite of a 25 under 25 type of list. It's more like 5 badasses over 50 who will still be killing it in 25 years. 
What was I saying?
Oh, this was a fun job. Dave Barry's Year in Review. He starts the peice out with a paragraph on how this was the year of, not the Comeback, but the Zombie. When I began sketches Barry hadn't submitted much more than the first couple of paragraphs, so I thought it would be all Zombie Apocalypse. I threw together a couple of roughs for the cover based on that direction.
Beth got back to me saying that the piece left the Zombie theme after the introduction so I'd have to come up with something else for the cover idea. Having not much more to go on, I was momentarily stumped. So I went for a run to clear out my head. At some point when I run these days, my mind always drifts back to what happened ten minutes after I crossed the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The hugs from my family after I crossed the finish line, followed almost immediately by the loud thud and thick thump you could feel in your chest, the sudden hush falling over the crowd, the quiet anxiety of several hundred fellow finishers walking, limping, staggering as best they could through the corral set up to contain the flow of humanity that came out to celebrate the day's acheivement. I thought how happy I was to have all that ugliness in the rear view mirror and eager to look ahead to new goals, new items to happily check off the list. Then it hit me - "Ugliness in the rear view mirror". Perfect idea for the theme of the Dave Barry piece. I picked up my pace, got home, scribbled a sketch and sent it out. Beth gave me the thumbs up and I was happily drawing away in to the future. A happy ending to a year that had some very ugly scenes.
And how about those Red Sox!
Here's the art for the opening spread below. It looks much better in the layout than all by itself. Lots of work, but zombification makes it easier to smile while digging these ditches.
Thanks again to Beth Broadwater at the Washington Post.
Liberty Exposed

It's always a good day when Mother Jone's art director Tim Luddy calls. And he does call, as in on the telephone. Most inquiries into my availability for an assignment are done through email, which is fine. But it's nice to talk through ideas the old fashioned way once in a while. Tim has announced that he's leaving Mother Jones and he will be missed. He's always been a champion of illustration and I considered myself very fortunate to fall into the menu of a man who I otherwise believe has exquisite taste in the illustrators he works with.
This issue focuses on our e-privacy and how we demand protection against unwanted prying eyes while simultaneously indulging in a compulsive mission to share, display, and expose almost every move we make.

Here are the thumbnails I sent after Tim described the direction he'd like to pursue. Also, I was to keep in mind that there may be a full page feature opener inside the magazine. These sketches were done on an ipad.

I got a kick out of this idea and had fun executing it. We tried to walk the line of good taste, only showing butt cleavage and a suggestion of breast. It was suggested that the image in the phone screen be topless, but nipples might go too far. I'm just happy that I was able to provide Lady Liberty some relief from those heavy robes.
Thanks again to Tim and good luck in your next incarnation. Namaste!
Fright Night
As the days descend into darkness I've been thinking more than usual about fear and what frightens us. Most kids are to some degree afraid of the dark. It's where the inhabitants of their imagination reside under cover, waiting to pounce. Is that a shadow on my wall or is it a tentacle? What's that sound? Oh my god, there's really, really something under my bed!
As I've grown into the world I've realized that it's often the light of day that has the greatest potential for fear, danger, and downfall. A skim through the daily paper is basically a horror story being told in serial form. I'd much prefer to go back to being afraid of the dark.
I did this piece as an equipment check. I got a Wacom Companion a few weeks ago and this was the first thing I did with it out of the box. Just me and a mirror. I need to lighten up on the hard stare if I'm going to want anybody to sit for a portrait.
Breaking Bad

I was wasting time on Facebook last week and saw that Entertainment Weekly art director Kory Kennedy was looking for illustrators who were Breaking Bad fans to drop him a line. So I did, and this foot on the gas job came from it. In his Facebook post Kory mentioned a Monday night sketch with a Tuesday afternoon final. Gulp. Much to my relief, the way things worked out I could get him a sketch on Friday and have until Tuesday to finish. In the not too distant past ending up with this assignment would have entailed several postcard mailings, a couple of multi-thousand dollar sourcebook ads and maybe an artist’s rep. Thank you, Winkelvi.
It was fun to work on this in the midst of all the Breaking Bad series finale hype. It was little like being safe in the middle of a raging storm, being exposed to the elements but somehow benefitting from the energy it all brought.
I’m a big fan of the show and Bryan Cranston’s performance and transformation as an actor and his character in particular. If you’re a fan of the show you know how things got away from Walter White, how a well defined goal became an obsession that ate everything in it’s path. I’m familiar with that impulse. In fact it’s something I do rather well as long as I’m pointed in the right direction.

I usually only do a few thumbnails, but the series finalehadn't aired yet and we didn't know what was going to happen in the story so I tried to keep to general themes in the series.
After settling on an idea I did a (little) tighter sketch, got the thumbs up and spent a good part of the weekend finishing this piece while watching the Breaking Bad marathon out of the corner of my eye.

I tried to touch on some of the familiar themes in the show while keeping the image simple. The blue background refers to the huge Southwestern sky, which along with the landscape is a major character in the show. The cracks and textures in the blue refer to the Heisenberg meth that Walt created. The skull is a tip of the hat to Gus as well as the many peole who died because of Walt. Wow, that is some serious fanboy thinking right there.
Thanks again to Kory Kennedy at Entertainment Weekly for the fun assignment.
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Stephanos is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!