Some events that have been around a long time can get stale. Not so with the 66th annual Artists & Writers Celebrity Softball Game, a charitable event that only gets better with age. As he has done for past games, award-winning graphic artist Walter Bernard designed this year’s poster, featured on the Dan’s Papers cover. Bernard, himself a staple on East End softball diamonds, has spearheaded the designs of a number of national and international media outlets.
Bernard was the art director of New York magazine for nine years before heading to Time magazine to direct its resign in 1977. In 1983, Bernard and mentor Milton Glaser—whose credits include the iconic “I Love New York” graphic and the logo for Brooklyn Brewery—formed WBMG. Together, they have designed over 100 magazines and newspapers. As digital media becomes more pervasive, Bernard has also made the jump into web design, most notably working to create ESPN Grantland, which showcases sports and pop culture under the guidance of famed journalist Bill Simmons.
Tell us about this year’s cover for the Artists & Writers Game. What was your inspiration?
My inspiration was the St. Louis Cardinals’ uniform. The team has one of the classic old-time outfits. Instead of bats, I used both a pencil and a paintbrush to symbolize our players. The Cardinals were one of the original teams in the National League, and they haven’t changed their uniforms.
How will this year’s game compare to year’s past?
The proceeds will still go to charities [The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center, Phoenix House Academy, The Retreat and East End Hospice]; 90 percent goes directly to the charities. Our goal this year is to raise $200,000. On August 15, we will be having a pre-game auction and party for the second year. For the first time, however, we will be auctioning artwork by the players. The exhibit for this will be at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, from August 10–17.
Do you expect the same players or guests?
Matt Lauer and [former New York City police commissioner] Ray Kelly will be there. Bill Clinton will probably drop by; this will be the third time in a row. He vacations in the Hamptons in August, and has walked by out of the blue to greet people. He was an umpire back when he was Governor of Arkansas.
How about your own participation?
I’ll play an inning or two. I’ve been involved in the game since 1972.
I know you’ve played softball for years every Saturday in Sag Harbor when you’re here. What does the game mean to you?
I started when I was a kid. You could play either baseball or stickball in a vacant lot where you didn’t need much equipment. Kids like to move around a lot. It’s also a beautiful game.
Can you talk about changes in the media since you first began your career?
There’s been a great change in print media; readers are migrating to the internet. A new media has been created; it’s not going away.
Yet to get people to read magazines and newspapers, some coverage becomes superficial and commercial.
Yes, but some readers are just not interested in print media and never were. We can’t win them back with a new design or subject matter like we used to.
How are you compensating?
I have more time for my art. I’m doing more watercolors now, mostly landscapes. I’m having art exhibits as well, and my business partner, Milton Glaser and I, are writing a proposal for a book about our profession.
The Artists & Writers Game will be on August 16 at 2 p.m. at East Hampton’s Herrick Park. For more information, visit artistswritersgame.org.