Want a BIG apartment in Manhattan? (bring your Brinks truck)

See all my portfolio samples at stevensalerno.com 

I created a large 1/2 page illustration for the cover page of the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section (6/27/10 issue date) … depicting a baby in a buggy, and along the side of the buggy is a blueprint floor plan of a large 4 bedroom apartment. 

(see top image of the printed newspaper page. Below that is the final illustration art as submitted to the art director…. and the bottom image is a shot of the piece in progress on my drawing table. The line drawing of the baby and the buggy and the little characters at the bottom were done with brush and black gouache on watercolor paper. The interior blue color of the buggy was also gouache and painted separately, then layered in with Photoshop. The background light blue building shapes were also created in Photoshop, as well and the white lines of the apartment diagram on the side of the buggy.) 

The article comments on the fact that in recent years there’s been a surge of 3 to 7 bedroom apartments making their way into the domain marketplace, to keep up with the growing demand for large apartments from the people with children and who no longer want to relocate to the suburbs once their family size calls for more space. I gave the baby a pleased countenance, no doubt from having a very big apartment to romp around in… Maybe I should have also placed a silver spoon in the baby’s mouth, as 3 to 7 bedroom apartments range from $2.5 million to $7 million (and up!) Can you say, “Holy Foyer, Batman!?”

I had worked with the Real Estate section art director, Carol Dietz, years ago, but in a different section of the newspaper… I am so glad she called me for this fun assignment. I had not worked for the NYTimes in quite awhile, so it’s “good to be back”…

I first began creating drawings for The New York Times back in 1980 (yes, before fax machines, before personal computers, before e-mail…) back in the days when the art director paraphrased the assignment’s article to you over the phone so you could get started on the sketch stage. Then you actually went to their office at the (old) Times Building in Times Square on West 45th Street, was screened through security, and first showed your sketch to the art director who then disappeared for a while to show the sketch to the editors… Then the same process was repeated again when you came back a day or two later delivering the completed final art, and handing it over so they could make a photostat of it and paste a B&W print of the art onto the layout mechanical… yes, with glue! When I look back on it, I now realize why I could eat countless cheeseburgers and pizza and never gain an ounce over 135 lbs…. because I was running all over the city delivering sketches and final art every day of the week!

In 1980 I was a skinny kid just out of art school one year, a graduate of Parsons School of Design in NYC, where I had studied under J.C. Suares. J.C. (who had previously been the NYTimes Op Ed page art director and was currently the AD at New York Magazine) gave me my first illustration assignments at New York Magazine the week after I graduated from design school. He then also introduced me to Jerelle Kraus who was the reigning AD of the Op Ed page. She liked my work and I somehow managed to regularly contribute drawings to the Op Ed page and Letters to the Editor page from 1980 through about 1985. A couple years ago in 2008, Jerelle released her book, “All the Art That’s Fit to Print, And Some That Wasn’t” recounting her many years as the Op Ed page art director, including all the run-ins with the editors, as well as showcasing many of the artists who contributed to the page… including the likes of Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Brad Holland, etc… and me! (see my previous post on Jerelle’s book) 

During those early years and in subsequent years I created drawings for the Op Ed page, but also created illustrations appearing in many of the NY Times other sections, too. The Book Review, Business page, Sunday Magazine, etc… but by the end of the 1990’s I was only doing maybe one illustration a year for the NYTimes. From about 2000 through 2007 my major newspaper client was The Wall Street Journal, as I was the regular illustrator for their Finicky Traveler column. 

For the past few years I have been busy with my usual projects in advertising, children’s books, magazines, packaging, and some animation character imaging for the web, etc… but have not really had a consistent gig with a major newspaper… so this recent New York Times Sunday Real Estate project hopefully will begin a renewed contact with the newspaper again! I am looking forward to the possibility.


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