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Robert Neubecker
Forty Years
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It's been a while since I posted anything here- it's been a busy year, and often, at the end of the day, I'd rather just go outside and play. Last spring marked 40 years as a professional, having had my first illustration commissioned by Steve Heller for the New York Times letters page in 1975, while I was a student at Parsons. Over the years the publishing industry has changed, it's grown and diminished, the web has shown great promise and some dissapointment, magazines have risen and fallen- My career has been remarkably consistant, I think because my emphasis has always been on  storytelling, communicating ideas using a visual language both cultural and personal. The metaphors and symbols might be from popular culture, art history, cartoons, whatever is in the cultural grab bag, but the point of view is personal. I had the excellent opportunity to study under J.C. Suares and Milton Glaser. The print magazine world has contracted, in my experience, since the recession, but illustration continues to flourish in it's different forms. The field seems to be reinventing itself. I love seeing what Yuko and Edel are doing, to name just two. Almost every illustration I do now has a web component and I've been having a wonderful time drawing books for children. I've started doing graphic novels, also for kids.  Newspapers, although hit pretty hard by digital media, are surviving, some are doing  quite well, and a good deal of my most interesting work comes from them. I still work for the New York Times, and I love reading it online- with art- and opening the big broadsheets on Sundays to see the illustrations and read the articles.
Below is a picture from each decade, followed by a bunch of recent work, which was my original intention to post in the first place...
Late 70's NYTimes. I did Leonard Silk's economics column, two a week, for years. This was rapidograph on vellum. I also did sports diagrams every Saturday morning. Free Yankees tickets. Lou Pinella. Reggie Jackson.

'91 Newsweek.Yeah, I know, it's not 80's but the '80s looked like this...

90's- Immigrants.

LA.Times Magazine Cover, '03 0r so.

'05 for Slate.com, after Andre Francois. The Tyco Scandal, where billions dissappeared and executives actually went to prison.

This is last month- Student debt, when parents cosign- NYTimes.

WSJ- Keith Webb art directed this. Always great.

This was originally an unpublished sketch for Live Happy Magazine, Katherine Finney, AD- it was about resilience. I finished it for a friend who'd just lost her husband in a motorcycle accident.

The Banality of Racism- Hartford Courant

This was a sketch for Live Happy, about forgiveness & the destructiveness of carrying a grudge

This is the final. I gave Kathryn two options, one where the creature is blue, but also this one, transparent, as a grudge is really just in your head... This was drawn mostly in ink with a crowquill on crummy, bleedy paper. Most of these are done on a Wacom Cintiq

Chicago Tribune, David Syrek, AD. Solitary confinement for kids... Anyone remember Bascove? Reminds me of her. Did a million fat line bookcovers in the 70's...

Sketch for Solitary that we didn't use..

This was also for Live Happy, about overcoming disabilities...profiling a wheelchair bound athlete.

This was for Trent Johnson, Opera News, about bringing more people into the opera. I was playing clean up for someone who'd had trouble with the assignment, something I used to do often- and I had only a day or two to do it. I liked the big Brunhilda, but we went with the crowd instead. Crowds are hard, er, numerous....


Also (above) Chicago Trib Book Review A memoir about some not so nice guys who shaped the author's life.

This was for Science Magazine, a weekly column I do on first person career stories. This was about a woman scientist fleeing Syria after a brave and prolonged effort to stay. Lot's of fun with Kyle's runny inkers...

New York Times- this is the Your Money column by Ron Leiber- I do this nearly every Saturday, unless they have great photos (!). This one's about, well, it should be clear. The greatest gift you can give your kid is a debt free college education. Four years at a good private school clocks in at $268,000.00, give or take a nickle.

This was for Slate.com. It was on underground pro-anorexia websites. Just a note about Slate. We were started by Bill Gates as the first web only news magazine in 1996. Mike Kinsley from Time was hired as our editor, and Patricia Bradbury, from Newsweek, as the art director. Mark Alan Stamaty and myself were hired as the illustrators. Patricia and I negotiated a good contract from Microsoft- no mean feat- based on WSJ's print rate. Two a week, 1 time use, no sketches, straight to finish (no time). Slate rose and fell with the fortunes of the internet, rates fell, went up, and fell again with the market crash- and I went to one a week. But all that time, I had a wonderful experience working with all of the art directors and editors- Mike Kinsley, Jake Weisberg, Kathleen Kincaid, Vivian Selbo, Rebecca Markovitz, Lori Shen, Holly Allen, Natalie Mathews- and so many others who have been involved over the years. Thanks to you all. I'm on an on-call basis now, not the weekly I did for nineteen years, which is fine- it was an astonishingly long run in our free-lance illustration world and there are other assignments to do, but I wanted to post a tribute to Slate and to all of the people who bring it to life and made it possible throughout it's history.

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