In honor of The Artist’s Magazine‘s 25th anniversary, we asked former editors about their time with the publication. Below are some of their responses.
When we decide to create a magazine, any magazine, like everything else we do, we either want it to be No. 1 in the field or a damn close second. One motive I had, in creating The Artist’s Magazine, was to knock American Artist out of its catbird seat. Nonetheless, one reason for our success was blind luck.
Susan E. Meyer, who was the editor of American Artist and a prominent editor and writer at Watson-Guptill, retired. When she left, she was cut off the complimentary copies list; she was furious! Susan had earlier proposed a magazine for Sunday painters, and, given American Artist’s treatment of her, she was anxious to talk to me and to give us the benefit of her ideas.
When I saw the first issue, produced in Fairfield, Connecticut, because that’s where North Light books were being produced, I was appalled. F+W’s editorial consultant, John Brady, and I went to New York City, where George Hirsch was publishing a magazine called The Runner (which later merged with Runner’s World). We used the editor’s office—John and I and Steve Philips, the designer. We spent between 20 and 30 hours that weekend putting together the first issue of The Artist’s Magazine. At the time John Brady was the food editor for Cincinnati Magazine. When he saw the word “tempera” in an article on Dean Mitchell’s egg tempera paintings, John thought there must be a mistake, so he changed it to “tempura.”
Another now-amusing story concerns the Postal Service and how it screwed us up. Initially The Artist’s Magazine wasn’t a monthly; I think we had planned to publish nine issues that first year. All of a sudden we started getting calls from subscribers saying they’d got issues No. 1 and No. 3, but not issue No. 2. It turns out that all the copies of the second issue were sitting in a trailer in a parking lot at the Postal Service Station. I spoke to the postal director in Cincinnati; he was an honorable man, and he felt terrible. He promised that he would get the magazine out to all the subscribers at no charge to us, but he had to take back the offer. It turns out he had violated a sacred law of the Postal Service: The Postal Service guarantees that whatever package you send will get there, but it doesn’t guarantee when.
The Artist’s Magazine is a wonderful publication in so many ways, but I think that what makes this magazine truly special is the community which forms its core. From the magazine’s thousands of artist readers to its cadre of professional artist contributors, everyone is ultimately part of a larger family of artists. Never have I worked on a magazine where contributors and readers alike were so willing to share, from giving of their valuable painting time to share their techniques and insights to even inviting you in to visit their homes and studios. At the time (1996–2004), I must say that I did not realize what a rare combination this was—it was simply part of the magazine. In hindsight, I see it for the unique community that it is.
I always felt so fortunate to be able to pick up the phone and call such painting legends as Everett Raymond Kinstler, Daniel Greene, Burton Silverman, Milford Zornes, Albert Handell, Zoltan Szabo, Dean Mitchell and Stephen Quiller and to know that they would not only be willing but happy to do something for the magazine. They felt it was an honor to be a part of this wonderful publication. From its launch, the magazine has always kept true to its purpose: to be a friend in the studio. It’s been just that, but also so much more, to thousands of artists around the country and even around the world. I feel privileged to have been a part of this community for so long.
Former editor and editorial director