Utne Reader Illustrated: Ryan Cox

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

Sometimes my favorite articles to art direct are ones where the main idea is relatively simple, therefore the visual possibilities are endless. In “Latitude for Aptitude,” the idea that children from states with cooler average temperatures have higher IQs could be interpreted visually any number of ways, so for me, tone and style took precedence when choosing an illustrator. I’ve worked with Ryan Cox a few times in the past, and I love his cool, Schoolhouse Rock vibe. But I didn’t choose him only for his style. He has great ideas, too. I contacted Ryan and asked him for “something cute and fun about how cold weather kids are smarter.” I loved all his sketches (below), but in the end couldn’t resist the smarty-pants kid demonstrating his math skills on the icy ground. Fun!

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.

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