Dan’s Papers Cover Artist Walter Bernard Steps Up to the Plate

This week’s cover artist for the annual “Artists and Writers Softball Game,” Walter Bernard, is a busy man. What’s especially salient, however, is the energy and commitment he applies to both his professional and personal lives. Not only is he a respected graphic designer, but he also has to be one of the best grandfathers on the planet. In fact, this interview took place while he was babysitting his six-year-old twin granddaughters. (Last year he published a book on their artwork called Let’s Go Painting. He may add to it this year.)

In a nutshell, Bernard, like the famous battery, “just keeps going.”

Q: You are so busy. How do you relax, get away from the stress of the job and New York? In other words, how do you “keep going?”

A: As you know, every Wednesday I go to my painting class. We have had the group since 1954, started by David Levine  (who has passed away) and Aaron Shikler. We just recently moved from Greene Street to W. 29th Street; it’s hard to get the same space that we had in SoHo. Then I also go out to lunch with my business partner, Milton Glaser, even though I see him every day. That’s where I complain about the political state of affairs and rail against abuses. I go to the gym every Tuesday and come out to Sag Harbor in the summer on Thursdays, for the weekends. My daughter and her family arrive on Fridays.

Q: I might add that you have a home in Bridgehampton where you spend the weekends during the rest of the year. Oh, and you play ball every Saturday, which is a cherished and long-standing ritual. Speaking of your daughter, I know your family members are just as busy.

A: My son-in-law, Hugo Lindgren, is the editor of The New York Times Magazine. My daughter, Sarah, has a show, “Trending Now” on Yahoo. My wife, Bina, is writing a book about
keeping secrets.

Q: What about you? You didn’t mention your own recent professional activities.

A: This year I designed a book, published by Lincoln Center, about James McMullan, who does theatrical posters. His latest poster is for the play, Other Desert Cities, on Broadway.

Q: Tell us about your own illustration work for the softball game covers for Dan’s Papers. Do you have a signature style?

A: The last couple of years, the covers have involved watercolor.

Q: This year, the cover is very different: Shakespeare and Picasso as players. I see the image as a satire somehow. Where did that idea come from?

A: I remember seeing a photograph of two baseball players taken during the 1940s, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. They were in a dugout holding their bats. It stuck with me. The face of Picasso is taken from one of his self portraits. And of course, the bats are connected to their profession: Shakespeare has quotes from his plays; Picasso’s has abstract designs.

Q: While the cover is different, there are still things about the game that will be the same.

A: Yes, we will still be selling posters of the cover, shirts and raffles. But this year, we will have children’s hats, donated food and ice cream for the first time. Also, there will be four charities instead of three that we will be donating money to: The Retreat; Phoenix Houses of Long Island; East Hampton Day Care Learning Center and East End Hospice.

Q: Deb McEneaney shared that there will be $15,000- $20, 000 going to each charity.

A: Next year it will be our 65th anniversary. That will certainly be a challenge for me with the cover.

 

“The Artists and Writers Softball Game” will be on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. at East Hampton’s
Herrick Park.

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