Dale Stephanos
March 2011
SF Weekly

Andrew Nilsen, art director for SF Weekly called last week to see if I'd be available to do a quick turn around cover. Apparently San Francisco has a growing feral cat problem. As with many of man's attempts to "help" nature on it's course, the city's practice of aiding those who feed the wild cats had unforseen results. Predators by nature, cats will do their darndest to take their place at the top of the food chain, and in San Francisco that means the packs of feral cats have proceeded to snack on the local birds.
Maybe it's time to start feeding the wild dogs, shore up their numbers, and have them chase these kittens back to the kitty litter.
These are the kinds of thumbnails I don't show the art director. Andrew suggested a cat laying around in a tub of food, or outside in a catglamorous environment. At first I pictured the moon as a cat, snapping at birds as they flew by. I still like that but I thought it might be too surreal.

I thought it might be nice to just zero in on the offender himself. At first I thought it would be fun to show the cat posing in a mug shot with a feather hanging out of his mouth.

Andrew suggested the idea of a gluttonous cat lying (laying?) atop a pile of food and feral cat ephemera. I liked this too.

Andrew liked the full face approach but wanted to suggest that the cat was outdoors. Here are a few color ideas. I generally solve color problems while I work, but this image was so simple that I wanted to have an idea of where I was headed.

Again, since it was so compositionally simple, I redrew my pretty bad sketch, got a box of Crayolas and tried to stay in the lines. I really like how Andrew pulled some of the noise in the sky into the type.

One last thing that I think is important. SF Weekly is not a huge publication. They don't have the budgets that national magazines have. But whether I'm doing a cover for a city weekly, a Sunday op-ed section cover or a magazine cover, I'm putting out the same effort, trying to make the picture the best it can be within the given parameters. Andrew told me what his budget was, and I told him it was lower than what I usually work for. He asked me what that was. I gave him a rough number and assured him that I'd work as hard on this piece as I did on the previous job that I had just finished for almost 5 times the amount he had. He was very sympathetic, and we had a conversation about where the print business was headed. "I want you to be able to call me in five years. I want to still be in business then" I said. Maybe that helped the cause, because he called back later with a fair price. I started work on this with maybe a little more enthusiasm than usual because I felt like Andrew went to bat for me and I didn't want to disappoint.
Thanks Andrew!
Seattle Weekly

Here's the current cover of Seattle Weekly. It's a parody of last month's Rolling Stone cover featuring a heavily re-touched Snooki. I guess I unretoughed her. Or something. That's David Brooks on the back of the rocket trying to hang on. Poor David Brooks. Such a nice man.
I guess I'm counting on the good folks at Rolling Stone to have a good sense of humor. They must, seeing as how they put the Snook on the cover in the first place.
Thanks to art director Boo Davis for this.
Sad Clown
I thought I'd try to fit this in before the car hits the wall. The face of Winning - Charlie Sheen.
Is that trademarked yet?
Scary Clown

Judging by all the news I must have missed the announcement that it's Clown Week 2011. I hate being left out, so here's my contribution. Libya's Supreme Clown in Chief, Mowamaah (as we pronounce in the Boston area) Gaddafi (or however you spell it). Here's hoping he has the opportunity to become a sad clown very soon.
I've been trying to nudge my work towards a more traditional look as far as media is concerned. When I was painting I wanted no evidence of a hand in the creation. Now I'm doing backflips to get some brushwork to find it's way through the mess.

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Stephanos is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!