Which Came First: The Pen or the Brush?

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday September 27, 2023


“Which came first, the pen or the brush?” The first question in our long-running series, In the Studio with… has steadily drawn readers to its pages. This week, DART celebrates artists who have taken up the pen to make their mark; even when much of the art is finished digitally, the artistic impulse for a sharp nib is evident.

We start with Riccardo Vecchio, the newly appointed chair of SVA’s Illustration as Visual Essay MFA program—and a long-time contributor to DART. Joining him on this page are some of the other artists featured in AI42, which will be available at the annual AI-AP Party on Thursday November 9 at Angel Orensanz Center. 

Top: Riccardo Vecchio: Marshall Arisman. Visual Arts Journal, School of Visual Arts, January 2023, (left);  John Prine, from Vecchio Imprints (right).


Left: Steve Brodner, Nine Richest Men. August 2022, The world's richest men for the Los Angeles Times.

Right: Brian Lutz, Tribute to Pelé after his recent passing. December 2022.


Left: Julie Murphy, Paul McCartney in France. He's Leaving Home. December 2022. Burnt out from touring and at the height of his celebrity, Paul McCartney embarked on a solo road trip to France in 1966. In disguise, he sat in cafes and wandered the streets alone. This illustration depicts how his incognito getaway inspired new ideas.

Right: Nicolas OrtegaAfter Babel. April 2022. The author discuss how social media in American society has made us more stupid. Using a metaphor of a second Babel Tower to show how in some point social media was created as place we could speak the same language and share. But with the appearance of likes, virology and fake news, it fell.


Left: Chuan Ming OngUkrainian Dreams. July 2022. Cover illustration to accompany an essay on the indomitable and unbreakable spirit of Ukraine in the face of war, written by Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov.

Right: Tina Berning, for Playboy Germany’s 50th Birthday Jubilee edition. August 2022. One of 50 covers by 50 artists. Depicting my respectful view on the female body in its vulnerability, I enriched the figure with so much expression that it loses any objectiveness and regains its autonomy counteracting the context of the publication.


Left: Tom Bachtell, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. July 2022 In 2022, I created work for private commission, for publication, and for my amusement -- all my drawings helped me process and interpret the people, places, and news of the ongoing-pandemic year. I drew this portrait of then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on an impulse to explore her face's renowned resting expression -- which I decided is less a scowl than an ever-readiness to charge with her head down.

Right: Juan Bernabeu, Are You the Same Person You Used to Be? For The New Yorker, October 2022. Researchers have studied how much of our personality is set from childhood, but what you’re like isn’t who you are.

Left: Jason Holly, Words in the Blood. Harvard Divinity, December 2022. Review of the book, Blood Theology by Eugene Rogers, which explores the ubiquity of blood within Christianity.

Right: Angelica AlzonaEllie Williams and Joel Miller from The Last of Us. The Last of Us Adaptation. The New Yorker, December 2022. For a piece on the process of adapting the video game The Last of Us to prestige TV.


Left: Matthew RotaTo Catch a Dictator. The Washington Post, December 2022. The path to prosecuting Chadian dictator Hissène Habré.

Right: Mark ToddZines! School Library Journal ,March 2023. For an article about zines and their creators.


Left: Barry Blitt, President Volodymyr Zelensky waves a Ukrakian flag amid smoke and explosions. The New Yorker, March 2022. Until a few years ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was best known as a former comedian and TV personality, an unlikely background for a wartime leader. And yet, as the artist Barry Blitt captures, Zelensky’s courageous conduct in the face of the Russian invasion has made him a hero.

Right: Rafael AlvarezWhy Sudsy Malone's Mattered. Cincinnati Magazine, January 2023. Illustration for an article about the 90s mighty laundry rock bar Sudsy Malone where a whole generation of national bands, Cincinnati local musicians, and club kids came of age.


Left: Joe Ciardiullo, Portrait of British film director Joe Wright. The Cirtic, March 2022.

Right: Joao FazendaThe Atrocity of American Gun Culture. The New Yorker,May 2022. Illustration for The New Yorker's Comment section, about the political reactions that followed the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings.

Left: Eric Hanson, England's Cowpat Modernist, Ralph Vaughan Williams. March 2022. Ralph Vaughan Williams' pastoral compositions conjured images of rural England and Wales so I drew him with foliage for his hair merging with the leaves overhead.

Right: Rebecca Estrella, What’s Your Definition of Hockey Hair? The Players’ Tribune, February 2023. These illustrations are used in NHL player Anson Carter's piece in The Players' Tribune. His story reflects on the implications of black hair styles in the world of professional hockey. Made digitally using Adobe Fresco, Procreate, and Photoshop.