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Utne Reader Illustrated: Brett Affrunti

 by Stephanie Glaros

Tags: Arts and Culture, illustration, Brett Affrunti, art, Stephanie Glaros,

Jelly Roll Final

In this continuing series, Utne Reader Art Director Stephanie Glaros explains the process behind an Utne Reader illustration.  

One of the fun things about being an art director is all the awesome mail I receive. My inbox is overflowing with postcards from artists vying for my attention. Note to illustrators: a handwritten message works wonders. I tack my favorites to a bulletin board that serves as visual stimuli when I contemplate what to do for art. When I was thinking about how to illustrate the story “Jelly Roll’s Storyville,” I perused my wall of postcards, and came across one from Brett Affrunti that had exactly the vintage feel I was looking for. I referred to this image (below, left) when I contacted Brett, and asked him to create something “narrative/realistic” in his vintage style that portrays “Lomax as sort of a music geek, and Morton as the flashy-dressing musician” being interviewed. Brett did a lot of research for this piece, not only about the two men, but also the Coolidge Auditorium, and the disc recorders Lomax actually used for the interview. His sketches reflect his research, and the final piece turned out even better than I imagined. 

 Affrunti Sketches 

Since its inception in 1984, Utne Reader has relied on talented artists to create original images for stories that express powerful emotions, brilliant new ideas, and humorous storytelling. Browsing through back issues of Utne Reader is like a tour of “Who’s Who” in the illustration world. Artists like Gary Baseman, Brad Holland, Anita Kunz, Bill Plympton, and Seymour Chwast have graced our pages over the years, to name just a few.