Scott Bakal
March 2009
Liberty Magazine - Proposition 8
'Proposition 8' Final Painting
The first lines of the article:
“On November 5, 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. The proponents of Proposition 8 based several of their arguments supporting this amendment on the premise that same-sex marriages posed a threat to religious liberty.”

This was an interesting article I illustrated for Bryan Gray at Liberty. This article covered both sides of the argument. While I do not see an issue with same-sex marriages, it is interesting to read the detailed arguments about why people are for and against it not only discussing the religious aspects but the laws as they exist. A hot topic indeed but I personally think largely misplaced by the people against same-sex marriages.
Here is the last paragraph:
“What is most tragic about Proposition 8 is that it will make it even harder for people to understand that instead of being seen as inconsistent values, religious liberty and gay and lesbian rights should be understood to reinforce each other. Both religious individuals and gays and lesbians seek personal autonomy. They want to be able to live their lives based on who they are – not on someone else’s idea of who they should be. The best way to resolve conflicts between the right of same-sex couples to marry and free exercise rights is for advocates from both sides to recognize the basic truth that the best way to persuade someone to respect your rights is to demonstrate that you are willing to respect their rights."

(Also...kudos to Dale Stephanos who did the cover for this issue and Randy Enos who also did an illo!)
In context.
Thumbnail ideas.
Best Life
So I got this email from Dena Verdesca over at what will used to be called Best Life Magazine about a month or two ago.  It read:
“How do you feel about serpents and vipers?”
Being an old Dungeons & Dragons dork, I quietly responded:
“I think they’re kinda cool.”  As I was making the sign of the devil with my hand and jumping around and playing air guitar listening to Ronnie James Dio in my apartment excited about the prospect of painting something so freakin’ cool!
Some quick thumbnails that were scanned and emailed as we were discussing possible directions to take the image.
Here is the text I was given:
Although it's far from the best book I've ever read, Philip Wylie's Generation of Vipers, which I encountered at age 18, woke me up, turned my brain inside out, and launched me on the trajectory of reverent irreverence that I've travelled ever since.
Up to that point, the values -- social, political, and religious -- instilled in me by my Southern heritage, had never been seriously challenged. Wylie's philosophical rant pulled the rug out from under those belief systems in such a way as to fracture them, yet leave me feeling better than ever about being alive.
Having been been both shaken and exhilarated by Wylie, I was somehow inspired to weave this newfound liberating skepticism into the wild and wooly fabric of my innate literary imagination (I had begun writing at age five) and my evolving world-view. I don't know if I would have been any less open to Zen, French avant-gardism, psychedelic drugs, etc. had it not been for Generation of Vipers, but I can say for certain that it was the lobster claw (succulent and dangerous) in the tuna casserole of my pupilage.
-- Tom Robbins

More thumbnails. I had about 20 or so thumbnails that I did during our 'idea' phase...these are just a couple. The snake swirling around the hat was Dena's favorite but the Masters Above liked the snake.
Now, Dena and I have been friends for a good part of a year or so and I we had talked about her art directing style and my art direction getting style and I initially felt that it may have been a tough time if we ever worked together.  I didn’t think too hard about it until I got the email to do a job for Best Life and then I got a bit worried.
It was all for nothing and that feeling escaped me in mere minutes.  I think this may have been one of the best art director/illustrator collaborations I’ve had.  Within a couple of hours and a flurry of emails, scanned thumbnails, and learning about all the books Tom Robbins wrote (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Frog Pajamas, Skinny Legs, etc.) we had something that we both were really proud to go forward with.  Easy as pie.  I think it was the fact that we were friends for a while that really helped this job because we were able to play off each other’s ‘work personalities’ without a hitch.
The final sketch prior to painting.
Thanks Dena!
Monday at the Society
My two pieces in the show.
Monday the 9th was a busy day at the Society for me but when I got there, I bee-lined it into the gallery to take a look at the Advertising/Institutional show.  I wasn’t able to get to the opening because I’ve been battling a nasty cold for the last week which today, I am finally able to breathe out of one nostril.  A small miracle indeed.
I am proud to be part of such amazing shows at the Society and congratulations to all my friends who were accepted into the show and walked out with various medals!  Yay!  (Clapping!)
A view of the work to be judged from the stage.
Then I had to head up stairs to the restaurant to do my annual chairing responsibilities to award the monetary awards for the 2009 Student Scholarship Competition.  Every year, I am stunned by the work submitted.  It might sound cliché, but I am going to put my foot down and say that there wasn’t a single piece I looked at that I felt that was really flawed in any way.  As a matter of fact, all of the judges spent a significant amount of time looking at all the artwork before I started giving them instructions to start isolating their top picks for the awards.  After that, it took just as long for a juror to select the first painting to be put in the judging pile!  All the jurors seemed perplexed.  How could they “possibly pick one or two of these pieces?  They’re all so wonderful!” a couple noted to me as I walked among them.
Judges Charles Hively taking the process very seriously and Leo Espinosa and Geoffrey Moss they can get their hands on the scholarship money.
This year the process went very smoothly and the jurors were very serious and intent on picking the best pieces for the awards.  This year’s awards are of landmark amounts.  We have 33 total monetary awards from $250 up to two $5000 awards.  The total cash awards are $54,250!  Plus we gave away a 7 week and a 1 week Illustration Academy Award and Master Class Program for Science Fiction and Fantasy artists.  Finally, something new this year:  In talks with Dick Blick Artist Materials, we are able to give every student that actually got into the show a $50 gift certificate with Dick Blick donating $1500 toward this!  So every student walks away with something.  Total awards going out this year including the gift certificates: $59,000!  Yowza!
Friday, May 8th, 6PM is the opening and Awards Gala at the Society of Illustrators and it is free to attend.  As usual, all are invited: professionals, students, art directors and the general public.  As a note, this show is going to look amazing partially because of the new walls at the Society but with that, I’ve instituted that all artwork for this show must be professionally framed.  In the past, only matting or mounting was required.  Many judges commented yesterday on how professional the work looked.  It’ll be saa-weet!
Go to to view the winning entries.
Judges looking at the selected few that were up for the $5000 awards.
On another parallel note:
Randy Gallegos, one of the jurors for this year’s competition, has spent some time writing up his experiences about actually judging the competition on his own blog.  For the students that come around here to Drawger and enter the Student Competition, he gives some wonderful insight and his views on the art, the process, fairness and quality of the work being submitted.  And photos!
His experiences are in two parts:
Round One Judging
Round Two Judging
Photo Courtesy of Mark Korsak - Judges doing their job.
I would like to thank all 25 jurors that took the time to help judge this amazing competition and would like to congratulate all the students that were accepted and awarded.
I look forward to May 8th when I am standing up on stage calling out names and shaking the hands of all the students that were awarded.  This money could really help jump start a career.
Becca Green $5000 In Memory of Arthur Zankel
See the rest of the show here: Society Competitions!
Rethinking Schools
I wanted to piggy-back on JD Kings piece he did for Patrick Flynn at Rethinking Schools but just didn't have enough time.  Although Patrick and I have been corresponding for probably the last year after meeting him when he received the Gangle Award from the Society, this was the first job I did with him and it was truly a wonderful and quick experience.
In general...the article was about taking 'pain' from one's experiences and turn it into power and creativity.  The article features a particular poet, Daniel Beaty, which I was able to get a YouTube video of the poem cited in the article.
Recent Articles

Work (21)

History - Joe Bowler (46)
Bakal is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!