left: original entry "Loading..." for The New Yorker magazine's annual Eustace Tilley contest; right: the adaptation of the image into the cover of the February 13th & 20th, 2012 anniversary issue.
(photo: Alex Delany)
The original image was modified, with my consent, by Françoise Mouly and presumably others at the magazine to include both The New Yorker title block and the iconic Eustace butterfly-sidekick. Unfortunately, these features must be clearly represented on the cover; the title, date, price, etc. cannot be blurred or pixelated as I had originally desired.
I am thankful to be credited for this collaborative work in a Table of Contents byline happily shared with Rea Irvin: the artist behind the original Eustace Tilley cover from 87 years ago. What's more, It has been extremely satisfying to receive feedback from friends and readers in emails and messages that have been forwarded from the magazine. I find it especially amusing that -- as intended -- many are confused by the delay they experience when attempting to download the weekly magazine on their portable electronic devices - I feel like we punked the tablet world.
The anxiety that comes with waiting or "loading", especially when one finds himself in a perpetual state of hyperspeed after the idea of being on the cover of The New Yorker has totally gone to his head, has been true of this entire experience for me. I have been in Namibia and South Africa since February 2nd with little to no internet connectivity; I impatiently type cryptic messages and web addresses on a mobile phone numeric keypad and squint into its antiquated screen to try and figure out the reception of my cover at home. After two weeks of this, I finally have fluid internet in Pietermaritzburg and am very excited by what I see, especially what people speculate about "a landscape historian from Connecticut" given the lack of information that is out there about "Brett Culbert" and "landscape historians" (not the actor from Kansas who shares my namesake and yields more google results for his cameo in a Vampire Diaries parody... though he got stuck with .net so I will leave it at that).
Regrettably, my delayed responses to interview questions for the magazine's blog post regarding the cover have not helped this process of deciphering. This lack of information has only emphasized the anxiety (on my end) surrounding cyber quickness and connectivity as well as the last minute deadlines and shifty spotlights that now fully plague the visual arts and journalism in the digital age. This is perhaps the spirit that I sought to capture in my original design and it has been interesting to watch the cover image play-out in real time. Overall, I am thankful for the exposure and can only hope for more opportunities like this from The New Yorker or other media outlets looking for armchair graphic design from a member of generation Y -- what Wikipedia calls an "Echo Boomer".
There are two posts that I particularly like: "New Yorker tricks readers with clever cover" by Maura Judkis's at the The Washington Post and "New Yorker Gets an Internet-Age Cover, and a Picasso Satire Suggestion" by Chloe Wyma's at some blog called "artinfo" (although I don't think my involvement in this process is as revolutionary as Norman Rockwell's extensive contributions to The Saturday Evening Post - but thank you.)