For a quarter-century, Walter Bernard has captured in his annual Dan’s Papers cover the spirt of competition and creativity that is at the heart of the Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game played each August in East Hampton. As the 71st showdown arrives on August 17, Bernard steps up to the plate once more…
What was the inspiration for this year’s cover?
After about 20 years of designing the cover for this game, inspiration starts with trying to find a way to illustrate the same theme a bit differently. I found some vintage pictures of baseball players and decided to use their batting stance as the reference for the artist and writer at bat.
Be honest—who’s better at softball, artists or writers?
It varies from year to year. The writers have won the last few games, but overall I think the artists have won more.
How has the game changed over the years?
There is more athleticism on the playing field now, but some say it was a lot more fun to watch the hilarious incompetence by famous writers and artists in the past.
Why has the annual softball game endured for so long?
Elaine Benson, Leif Hope, Debby McEneaney and Ken Auletta are some of those whose behind-the-scenes efforts keep the game alive. And Dan Rattiner of this paper and Jack Graves of the East Hampton Star keep us in the public eye.
Talk about how your art style has evolved during your career.
I am principally a graphic designer. My art style has been nurtured by studying with Milton Glaser and with the master watercolorist David Levine. Most of my illustrations for these covers were watercolors, but now they are often combined with computer graphics, as is the current cover.
Your design career has been very prolific. What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
My working life has been devoted to magazine design, so I would chose the redesign of Time and Fortune magazines as major moments. I am also proud of the film Neil Leifer and I produced to celebrate artists David Levine and Aaron Shikler called Portraits of a Lady, featuring justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It will be shown at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton September 22 as part of a Hampton Doc Fest series.
What do you love about the Hamptons?
My wife, Bina, and I have had a place in Bridgehampton since 1969. We loved the rural setting, the potato farms, the Candy Kitchen, the drive-in movie and the beaches. One of the first to welcome us was Elaine Benson, whose art gallery was a centerpiece of the village. She also managed the artists in the Artists & Writers game and invited me to play.
What advice do you have for young designers?
Change comes more rapidly than ever before. As the print world declines, designers have to be familiar with all the new digital tools and be aware of new opportunities in an expanding field. Many young designers who have worked with us in print and film now work at new companies designing videos, websites and apps.
What are you working on now?
I am currently finishing a book, Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines by Walter Bernard and Milton Glaser, to be published in December by Columbia University Press. Our book celebrates editors, writers, designers, illustrators and photographers we have collaborated with since 1968 at New York Magazine. It also includes our work for Time, Fortune, The Atlantic, ESPN, Paris Match, The Nation and many others.