The Accidental Illustrator
In 1996, in the east village of Manhattan, there was a fab restaurant called Global 33. The theme was ‘airline chic’, and the decor evoked a business class lounge at, say, the Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, but when the airport was called simply Galeão, say in the 60′s (if, of course, there had been business class in the 60′s). Colorola’s Stuart Patterson, being something of an airline fetishist, naturally fell in love with the place, and proposed creating some illustrations for the 33 back-lit display mountings that lined one wall of the restaurant. He had been playing around with some very rudimentary vector illustrations of airline interiors, and when he showed the owners of the place, they were convinced, and an installation was produced in the fall of 1996.
Enter Tyler Brûlé, at the time a former BBC journalist scrambling to put together a new magazine in London called Wallpaper*. He happened to dine at Global 33 while Stuart’s show was up and determined to commission the illustrator for his upcoming publication. The problem was that Stuart really wasn’t an illustrator, he was a graphic designer that played around a bit with Freehand. Furthermore, he’d split New York, and was couch-surfing back home in San Francisco. This is just before the advent of the ‘portable mobile phone device’, and internet service was still a bit slapdash, so Stuart was difficult to track down (he’d actually gone to Mexico City for a couple of months, to make matters worse). Then Tyler picked up a copy of the, at-the-time-pretty-much-local magazine, Surface*, no doubt concerned about their protruding asterisk.
This was when Stuart was doing the graphics for the Sound Factories of New York and San Francisco, and in this capacity, had created a Sound Factory ad for the back cover of Surface*. Tyler, ever the vigilant, recognized the work as Stuart’s, and promptly contacted Sound Factory.
Stuart practically learned the illustration trade traytabling his PowerBook 5300 on the way to Toronto to work on the inaugural issue of Wallpaper*. The naive line and color of his earlier work contributed to the approachable, human quality of the early Wallpaper* editorial, and was an integral part of the Wallpaper*’look’ that has influenced the publishing industry and popular aesthetics to this day.