Monday, July 21, 2008

Creative Friends

This is a late post because our monthly lunch of creative colleagues was today. We usually gather at Vic's Italian Ristorante and spend a few hours enjoying each other's company and hearing about what everyone's working on.

I'm very blessed by our creative group. In fact, MAD Magazine's editor, Nick Meglin, was just remarking to me afterwards what a joy it is to have such a great group of talented individuals to meet with regularly.

We have an editorial cartoonist, an animator, a sculptor, a graphic designer, a guitarist, a humor writer, my son, and myself. We also invite others from time to time, but the following are our core group:

Dwane Powell - editorial cartoonist at The News and Observer and nationally syndicated by the Creators Syndicate. We worked together at the paper for about a decade before I left to go free lance. He and I have the longest history together, and actually borrowed tips from one another as we were developing our craft.

Grey Blackwell - animator at The New and Observer. Grey was hired in the same job I used to have, but positioned himself to work in what really interests him--animation. Grey also has done work for MAD Magazine over the years. And Grey received a Best in Newspaper Illustration Award at the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Awards. Plus, everyone says we were separated at birth, even though he's really almost young enough to be my son. And those who say it still are either senile or myopic.

Joel Haas - sculptor. Joel and I used to be across-the-street neighbors for about 12 years. So we have had a lot of interesting philosophical conversations about the nature of being a creative free lancer. Joel grew up in a talented family as the son of the late novelist Ben Haas. And his mother owned her own theatrical costume shop for several decades before closing it to retire recently. His brother has won Grammy Awards as a classical music producer. Joel's sculpture is widely known and appreciated in private and commercial collections.

Walter Stanford - graphic designer. Walter drives all the way from Charlotte just to come to our meetings. He is exceptionally skilled in Photoshop and does most of his work digitally. But he is also an accomplished illustrator and fine artist in pastels.

Joe Albano - guitarist in Adjustyd Bluz, a band we play in together. Joe and Nick actually knew each other many years ago in NY as Joe recorded on a tune Nick had written the lyrics for. Joe's musical past is as diversified as my own, and he is a pleasure to include in our visual artists group. Here's Joe...

copyright J.Pittman, 2008

Nick Meglin - retired editor from MAD Magazine and current arts teacher, illustrator, author, and lyricist. Of course everyone remembers Nick as longtime writer and editor for MAD. What you may not know is Nick always wanted to be an illustrator and MAD was just a means for him to earn a living as he pursued art. But the sideline became his career, and he eventually came to realize his "bread-and-butter" work as humor writer and editor was his calling. After writing several books, and finally retiring from MAD to NC from NYC, Nick began teaching a creative workshop and is enjoying his first love, illustration, by doing portraits of composers for classical radio's monthly newsletter. Nick also is currently writing the lyrics to the musical stage adaptation of "Grumpy Old Men."

Jay Pittman - my son and illustrator of children's books. Jay, of course, grew up with a double dose of art in our family. He has assisted me, as have his other siblings, on numerous tv commercials and illustration assignments. And, to his own credit, has illustrated two children's books.

Me - well, you already know about me.

As I mentioned, it is a real blessing to meet with all of these creative talents every month-- one of the many things I am thankful for in my career and what makes the artist's life so interesting and rewarding.

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