Arts & Entertainment

Sergio Garcia: New Yorker cover is a mythic model

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

New York, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- “The cover of the New Yorker is a mythic model to which we all aspire someday, or rather we all dream of being able to publish” on it, Spanish illustrator Sergio Garcia – who is now fulfilling that dream – told EFE in an interview.

Readers of the iconic magazine will view his cover illustration before they delve into the pages of the publication’s Feb. 15-22, 2021, issue.

New Yorker covers are known for being bohemian reflections of events in, and even the spirit of, the Big Apple and have become authentic works of art that decorate walls everywhere and, also, are much sought-after collector’s items.

“For me, as an illustrator it means reaching a summit, a landmark, it’s a reference point for a cartoonist to publish in the New Yorker, above all on the cover,” Garcia, 53, said from his home in Cumbres Verdes, Spain, before adding that since the weekly magazine elected to make his drawing internationally known everything’s been “absolutely crazy” with phone calls and a huge number of comments on the social networks.

Garcia said that “all the big names have published there, so if they allow you to get your work there you become, I don’t know, sort of a popular somebody within the illustration space,” he said, with a big smile.

Also a professor at the Granada Art School, Garcia noted that other well-known illustrators such as Saul Steinberg, Christoph Niemann, Artie Spiegelman and Harry Bliss have gotten their work onto the magazine’s cover.

Amid all this, Garcia – who has worked for newspapers like El Pais, the Correo publishing group and the New York Times and who has just seen one of his drawings displayed at the Picasso Museum in Paris – said, laughing, that he feels like he has attained a status that, starting now, he has to maintain and cannot allow to slip.

“It makes you a little scared, in a certain way, yeah. All of a sudden, it’s like an enormous responsibility that you have on your shoulders,” he said, laughing.

Garcia’s illustration, in black, gray and muted green and brown tones, is an interpretation of the character that is the iconic symbol of the publication – the outdated dandy Eustace Tilley, a drawing of whom appeared for the first time on the magazines very first cover in February 1925, drawn by Rea Ervin.

For the magazine’s 96th anniversary cover, Garcia drew a silhouette of Tilley wearing a facemask and holding up a syringe and within it included sketched images from New York daily life representing society dealing with the pandemic and hoping that the vaccine will enable us, once again, to fly like a butterfly, which also appears in the image.

Every February, it has been the custom for assorted illustrators to turn out contemporaneous versions of the New Yorker’s iconic gentleman.

In Garcia’s illustration, Tilley’s top hat contains empty nighttime New York buildings and streets, while the brown shades of his suit jacket include images of facemasked people on the street and riding in vehicles, people at home talking online with friends and relatives along with a couple kissing, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s 1907-1908 painting “The Kiss.”

The drawing narrates a journey from the first imposition of extraordinary measures in New York last March to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus up until the “new normal” the city is experiencing at present.

In the green elements of the image, as Garcia explained to EFE, one moves into the realm of hope: Tilley’s mask, a woman reading, the syringe in the gentleman’s hand and the butterfly fluttering near the magazine’s title, all representing the hope for better times ahead.

Garcia has no qualms about saying that this was not the first time he had sent a prospective cover illustration to the magazine, although this time the publication accepted his idea.

“What you do is propose ideas. They gather them, the cover art department, because there’s a department just for the cover page, and then there’s a very long process of refining until you get to the final result,” he said before providing examples of proposals and details, such as a metro car that appears within the top hat.

Garcia explained that his drawing, which uses the muted pastel colors from the original 1925 illustration, reflects and captures one of his lines of research.

In this case, it’s an idea similar to the idea of classical journalism, where the title or headline emphasizes the most important element of the iece and the article then unpacks the details in decreasing order of importance.

The title, he says in his university lecturing tone, would be the image of the gentleman, which first attracts the viewer’s attention. A man with a top hat, holding a syringe and wearing a facemask.

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