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Behind the scenes with Barry Blitt, the New Yorker’s master cover artist

Behind the scenes with Barry Blitt, the New Yorker’s master cover artist
[Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images]

Back when I worked at PC World magazine, one of my favorite parts of the job was getting sneak peeks at the work of illustrators whose art accompanied our articles. They typically gave us rough sketches of multiple ideas. And among our artists was Barry Blitt, who was already doing covers for the New Yorker, but—in the era before people shared New Yorker covers on Twitter—was not yet as big a name as he would become.

I was pleasantly reminded of that experience by the recent publication of Blitt, Riverhead Books’ new collection of Blitt’s piercingly funny drawings of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and various others. Though it contains pieces from the New Yorker and elsewhere that I enjoyed revisiting, it’s also full of Blitt’s rough work, unseen by anybody except for magazine editors and art directors until now.

Here, for instance, is the idea that became the New Yorker‘s cover for June 20, 2016, from raw doodle to finished art.

Seeing this stuff, I recalled what a privilege it is to see the work of a great artist while it’s still a work in progress.

As long as I’m at it, here are a few tech-themed sketches Blitt made for PC World spot-art assignments over a decade ago, retrieved from the depths of my Lotus Notes email archive.

HM