[Call for entries: HOW Logo Design Awards]
Meet Stephen Andrade, PRINT’s latest Designer of the Week, a talented illustrator with a knack for bringing to life beloved movies and television shows on the covers of vintage-style pulp fiction magazines—”pop culture meets pulp culture,” as he puts it. After seeing his Inconceivable Tales cover, his “Bob’s Burgers” references and his various nods to horror movie books, we think you’ll enjoy his work as much as we do.
Name: Stephen Andrade
Location: Western Massachusetts
Design school attended: Hartford Art School at the University Of Hartford
How would you describe your work?
Pop culture meets pulp culture—I like to imagine that the movies and television shows we know and love originated as seedy stories in the pulp fiction magazines of the 1940s and ‘50s, and show the viewer what those magazine covers would have looked like. I also want my work to be fun—I think the purpose of art is to stir people’s emotions. And if I can elicit a sense of joy or bring a laugh to someone’s lips when they see my work, I’ll consider it a job well done.
Where do you find inspiration?
Used book stores are like a museum to me—vintage pulp magazines and old paperback covers are a treasure trove of fantastic imagery and terrific design. Yes, there’s a lot of hack work there, too, but mixed in with the conventional horror and science fiction fare is some truly brilliant and inspiring artistry.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
Some of my favorite older artists are illustrators N.C. Wyeth, H.J. Ward, Bruce Pennington, Jack Gaughan, and Basil Gogos. Current artists whose work I really admire include John Jude Palencar, N.C. Winters, Todd Schorr, Kristin Tercek (aka Cuddly Rigor Mortis), and Jason Edmiston.
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite because most of the time I go through a love/hate rollercoaster when creating my work (though luckily, I’ve always landed in a positive place when I’ve completed a piece—knock on wood). But one of the pieces I had the most fun with from start to finish was “Spooky Stories (Vintage Pulp Edition)”—the composition was nailed down in the first thumbnail I did, the painting came out exactly how I envisioned, including all the nods to various horror movie books [which] was a blast, and the design of the text for the finished print feels spot-on. Of course, there are still little details that I wish I could go back and change, but isn’t that always the way? Plus, eternally fiddling with your work after it’s finished—that way lies madness and George Lucas-ville.
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I don’t know if this counts as much as a challenge as it does a self-induced headache, but one of the pieces that was the most difficult for me to complete was “Tales Of Horrorticulture (Vintage Pulp Edition).” I started this project (created for the Crazy 4 Cult cult movie show at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles) with a concept I loved (a mash-up of vegetable-themed horror movie characters) and a drawing I was happy with, but once I started the painting I realized that I hadn’t thought out the values fully enough and had to constantly repaint areas as I went along. I was also working with reference material culled from different films with different lighting, so in some cases I had to throw out the reference shots and make up the light and shadow to match the established light source of the main figure.
Then when it came time to lay in the text, I wound up going far too busy with the color and details. I was working up against a close deadline, so I had to say “good enough” and let it go. Looking back on it, the piece isn’t horrible, and it did well at the show … but this is one case where a little extra planning at the start of the project would have saved me a lot of stress at the end of it.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I’d love more time to devote to my artwork—my wife and I are the proud parents of a precocious three-year-old, so studio time isn’t quite as easy to get to as it once was. My wife is also an artist— she creates fabulous needle-felted sculptures (fuzzefood.com, if I might give it a plug)— so I’d also love the chance to collaborate someday and create a joint show of both of our work. But mainly, I just want to keep on improving as an artist and keep making artwork that makes people smile.
What’s your best advice for designers today?
For years after college I was trying to get illustration work, showing samples of artwork geared toward what I thought people wanted to see. It wasn’t until I started making artwork that was what I wanted to see that things began to take off. So whatever you do, whatever sort of artwork you make, be sure that above all it makes you happy. That joy will come through in your work for others to see.
Get the latest issue of PRINT to discover our annual list of 15 of the best creatives today under 30. Plus …
A look at the rebranding of an old industry made anew: marijuana
A Manifesto from Scott Boylston on the dire need for sustainability in design
Paul Sahre’s memoir/monograph Two-Dimensional Man
Debbie Millman’s Design Matters: In PRINT, featuring Jonathan Selikoff
And much more!