Walter Bernard first played in the Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game in about 1970. “I’ve been around a while,” he says. When asked if he was ever awed by meeting a player among all the artists and writers who’ve played in these star-studded games, Bernard notes a handful of awe-worthy stars: “Eugene McCarthy, Pelé, Eli Wallach, Alan Alda and Yogi Berra.”
What was the inspiration for this piece?
I wanted to honor Leif Hope and the players for the 70th anniversary of the game. The limits of space eliminates many worthy players but these images reflect the scope of the participants over the years. And these are the pictures I could gather quickly.
Based on your experience, who’s better at softball, artists or writers?
Lately the writers, with their many ringers.
After two decades of designing all of the artwork—hats, shirts, posters—for the game, is there one design that sticks out as a favorite?
The poster and Dan’s Papers cover for 2007 is probably my favorite. It’s a departure from the previous simple graphic design statements I’d been doing. These drawings in watercolor are energetic and playful, giving me a new direction.
Is there any particular moment from the game you’ll always remember?
In 2016 it was fun to pitch the traditional grapefruit (painted as a softball) to John Franco (former Mets pitcher), who smashed it like a piñata. It was the inspiration for the 2017 poster.
Is there one particular artist working today whose work you admire?
My partner Milton Glaser is probably the greatest graphic designer/artist of his generation and maybe the all-time greatest. He’s being honored by the Edward Hopper Museum with a one-man show of his new landscape prints opening on September 7. He and I are writing and designing a book about our 20 years of designing magazines together. It’s titled MagMen and will be published by Columbia University Press in 2019.
Where’s the most unusual place your work has appeared?
After designing magazines almost exclusively, the most unusual was in film. When Nora Ephron was about to direct her first movie she asked me if I had ever done movie titles. (I knew Nora from our days at Esquire magazine). I said “No.” She said, “ Now that I’m a director I can hire anyone I want. Would you like to do it?” So we designed the titles for This is My Life and her next four films: Sleepless in Seattle, Mixed Nuts, Michael and You’ve Got Mail. A thrilling time.
If you could sit down to coffee with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
It would be two. John Singer Sargent and David Levine. Both were the best of in their time. Sargent was a masterful portraitist but it’s his unconventional watercolor approach that I’d want to talk to him about.
David Levine, a friend and teacher, was the most accomplished caricaturist since Daumier and a master at watercolor in the Sargent style. Sitting with both would be sublime.
Find out more about Bernard’s work at walterbernarddesign.com. The 70th annual East Hampton Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game will take place on Saturday, August 18 at 4 p.m. at Herrick Park in East Hampton. The game is free and open to the public. See the official game program at the center of this issue.