Joe Kimberling was passionate about design and a great champion of illustration.
It was always a good day when you received a call from Joe and got to hear his enthusiastic preamble expounding on why this assignment would be a perfect match for you. If I wasn't convinced, he would find ways to inspire me. Hearing Joe talk was like an aural ray of sunshine coming through the phone, but he was like that even before he moved to LA. Like many illustrators, I work in isolation but I don't work alone. I think an art director's input on the assignment, from the initial introduction to reviewing sketches, can be a vital component to the success of any given illustration. The art director is setting the stage. Joe would inspire and challenge me, enlighten me, sometimes suggesting an additional element to the piece, and other times he knew to give me the freedom to just run with it. He brought out the best in me.
Almost every piece I worked on for Joe at Los Angeles magazine was with the great assistance of art director Lisa Lewis. They were a team par excéllence. Often, he would start the phone conversation and then hand it over to Lisa. Like many brilliant comedic teams she played the straight man to his ebullience.
Joe was a brilliantly talented art director and designer. He was also a sweetheart of a guy with a wonderful sense of humour. I can see by the many posts I've read over the last few days, and by comments from my colleagues here, that he had a gift of knowing how to connect with people. His passing is a huge loss for our community. Joe we will miss you, you were a shinning star, full of heart and soul.
This post is a salute to Joe by offering a few examples of some of the illustrations he has commissioned over the years to many many illustrators.
If anyone one else who has work that they did for Joe and they would like to contribute to this post, please email me your images firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, I'm reposting this from Joe's Facebook page. Steve Rogers ( Joe's Partner) and the Kimberling family have asked that in lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to send something in Joe's memory, send contributions:
In Memory of Joe Kimberling to KU Endowment, School of Journalism, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, Kansas 66044-0928.
You can also donate on-line at www.kuendowment.org by clicking "give now" and making your contribution in Joe's name.
The first piece I did for Joe at Los Angeles magazine. Portrait of Johnny Depp for a feature article about his career and his then current role in the film "Finding Neverland". We both agreed that portraying Depp smoking in a Peter Pan costume was the way to go for this one.
Joe called and said "Jody you are going to love this one !" He knew it would be "essential to the art" to spend many hours researching swimsuit photos of Daniel Craig :-) However Daniel Craig wasn't a household name yet, so Joe thought I should incorporate elements that reference previous James Bond films. This diptych and the bold 007 graphic was a new approach for me, thanks to Joe's guidance.
Mark Burckhardt: Two pieces from the last article I did with Joe, back in 2009; I thought these would be appropriate in that the spreads are included, and his design was a great compliment to the art.
Joe was a pleasure to work with, and I'd hung out with a few times in LA when visiting--a super guy who loved illustration and illustrators.
Gérard Dubois : The spread stands thanks to his talent and vision. He's the one who pushes me in that direction.
I remember being worried the spread would look empty, (for me this image was the spot, and the other one the full page); at that time my images were more busy than now.
And he was just nice too me, comforting me, saying everything will be nice.
I also remember well this unique collaboration because this series and specially the spot image is when I've started to play with bodies like that, fading in walls, etc... being a bit more graphic also.
A great loss.
John Cuneo : I cannot imagine how he found the time, but when ever I was in the city, Joe offered to meet somewhere, look through a sketchbook and catch up a little.
He had much bigger fish to fry, but was always calm, present and reassuring company - qualities that made him a great guy to work for.
He'd flip through these little sketchbooks never batting an eye at the content. It was me who was a little flustered - Joe looked to be about 15 years old and right out of Norman Rockwell bible class - I'd get the
pervy feeling that I might be corrupting him.
He like this piece. He paused on it and pointed to it. It wasn't the subject matter or the quality of the sketch - the Designer in him was intrigued that the drawing spanned the spiral bound border. He mentioned this and said he'd like to try to do something similar in a magazine someday, and then he looked up at me very seriously (or as serious as anyone with that haircut could look) and made me promise not to let anyone else ever cop that idea. I owe Joe so much more than that promise.
Brian Stauffer: Joe never wanted to let anyone off the hook even given the battles every piece of art faced before publication. I loved and feared a call from him. I knew he would praise and foster my best work, and challenge the low points of my less successful ones.
The was for a story about children's dolls that were being painted with toxic paint in China. Joe wanted me to focus on the idea of the trust and love of that children have with their toys and the irony that one could be violating that relationship.
This is a piece that was supposed to encapsulate two different book reviews about two totally different topics. "The Challenge", Joe said, "Is to do an image that addresses the LA noir aspect of both books". One was a book about a restaurant critic and the other was about a crime scene clean-up crew.
Adam McCauley :for Los Angeles magazine
Adam McCauley : for Entertainment Weekly
Doug Fraser : two pieces for Los Angeles Magazine.
Subject - Comic hero story lines in film. Oils on canvas.
Subject - The dangers of driving in Los Angeles. Oils on paper.
Calef Brown : Such terrible news. I didn't know Joe well, but have had such respect for his genius work.
I did a bunch of work for LA magazine during his tenure,
these are two of my favorites– a cover for the Guide section about a TikiFest, and a portrait of the band Sigur Rós.
Tim Bower : Joe was most definitely one hell of a guy. My mind reels with warm anecdotes and pleasant social / work experiences with him.
I remember this particular phone call from him (remember phone calls?) when he was at LAMag; "Tim, I have a fiction piece about a young man dealing with the death of his father and his long-time alienation from him that will get you in every annual this year. Do whatever you want".
The painting didn't get in any annuals, but it didn't matter to me,-- that kind of rapport was golden.
Mark Ulriksen : Here's 2 pieces I did with Joe, all for EW. I'm still stunned by his loss. So young. Joe's talent as an art director and typographer was matched by his enthusiasm for all things. Whenever we worked together he always seemed to be happy and full of positive energy . Once he moved t LA magazine I got to finally meet him, at Storyopolis. He was as friendly in person as he had been over the phone over the years. It really is shocking that he died way too soon.
George Costanza (above )
Mark Ulriksen : Oprah
Dan Adel : I remember from way back during his EW days Joe always managed to bring an infectious sense of fun to an assignment. He was brilliantly witty, usually in a mischievous, devilish kind of way and was a huge pleasure to work for.
He will be missed.
Richard Downs : This a piece I did while Joe was at Entertainment Weekly 1992. "Boyz n the Hood" movie review
Roberto Parada : Here's a couple of paintings that I enjoyed doing for Joe when he was at LA Magazine. These were part of a series which was about the best movies ever about LA. Chinatown (above) and Sunset Boulevard.
Mark Matcho : Here are a couple of pieces I did for Joe while he was the AD at Los Angeles Magazine.
Great art director, a fantastic person, and a terrible loss-
Alessandro Gottardo ( Shout ):
Uncle Sam For Los Angeles Magazine.
Tim O'Brien : for Los Angeles Magazine.
Joe Ciardiello : For Los Angeles Magazine April 2006.
Dave Plunkert :This is a piece Joe commissioned me to do for the Dec 24th, 1993 issue of Entertainment Weekly about orchestral scores for movies vs pop soundtracks.
In those days before email and efficient Photoshop...Entertainment Weekly never had the time to allow for a 4x5 of the art to be shot so typically live art (that could be wrapped around a drum scanner)
was sent via Fed Ex. I do recall Joe calling me on one or two occasions at 4pm that required hitting Fed Ex at 6:30 that same evening. I was honored he would go to the trouble
of calling someone in Baltimore when time was of such essence.
Despite fast turnarounds...Joe was a pleasure to work with and did a great job of lining up talent with story content....he made you look good too!
Felix Sockwell: Joe was the first "big" art director to call and commission me for work after I left Ogilvy and I will always be grateful for that, his generosity and humor. Joe was one of the nicer ADs one could hope to work with. He looked about 19 yrs old when he first invited me into EW for a portfolio run through via Erik T Johnson (my roomate at the time).
I remember I was fresh from TX and wearing a cowboy hat and
shorts, which drew guffaws from EW staffers. Not in a Richard
Simmons kinda way. In a what the fuck was this guy thinking kinda way.
Anyway Joe and I worked together and had some fun. Lisa Lewis was
always a pleasure too.
Cheers to Joe.
Illustration for Gene Autry Music and Poetry Festival, LA Magazine, 2001-ish
Christoph Niemann : Joe assigned my first illo for EW back in 1997.
I still can't believe he's not with us anymore.
Ross MacDonald: It's taken me a while to contribute something - partly because I was so stunned and saddened by the loss of such a great talent and friend, and partly because I've done so much work over the years with Joe that it has taken a while to go through them all. When Joe was at EW, they were literally my biggest client - I did dozens of illustrations for EW every year, most of those for Joe. Looking through them, and the pieces I did for him at Los Angeles Magazine, I realized that a large proportion of those illustrations are among my all-time favorites. Coincidence? I don't think so - working with Joe always made me remember why I wanted to be an illustrator in the first place.
Jason Holley: I'm glad I can contribute some small gesture to remember such a big heart.
The portrait is Warren Zevon at his most drunken and self destructive (mid 1970's). I told Joe I wanted to do a drippy, trippy painting that was going to look a little different than any of my previous work, and he just said "go for it".