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The New Yorker Cover Illustrated by Academy Graduate

A lifelong goal came to fruition for School of Illustration graduate Gayle Kabaker when her Two Brides image was chosen for the cover of the Brides issue of The New Yorker on June 25, 2012.

The New Yorker Art Editor Francoise Mouly noticed Kabaker’s imageon BlownCovers.com, a blog about “New Yorker covers you were never meant to see.” The blog was originally created by Mouly to promote her book, also titled Blown Covers. Every week Mouly hosts an open contest for cover art on the blog, with a theme that resembles those assigned to regular contributors of the magazine. Kabaker, a 1981 BFA graduate from Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration and a current an online instructor for the Academy in Fashion Drawing, had entered art in the contest before.

“The first time I entered, the theme was Reading,” she recalls. She placed eighth in the top ten entries chosen that week, which left her surprised and thrilled. “I had a strong image for it, in flat, graphic style that I’m happy to do … but not as excited about that as my painterly style. A few weeks later I entered four images for the Gays theme.”

Next, she says, “Françoise [Mouly] e-mailed, asking me to hold out the image of the two brides to consider it for the real thing. Just seeing her name in my inbox had me freaking out with excitement. Plus, they picked my ‘almost kissing’ image for second runner-up. A few weeks went by, and I got the call that [Two Brides] was seriously being considered for the Brides issue. Françoise asked me not to tell anyone, as covers can change at the last minute,” Kabaker said.

“When I finally got the word that it was happening, it was the realization of a lifelong dream,” she said, “I have three of them: do a cover for The New Yorker, illustrate an editorial spread in Vogue, and do a campaign for a company like Nordstrom. One down, two to go!”

The extremely talented and versatile Kabaker does indeed spread her net widely, with her work showing up in marketing collateral, editorial content, animation, web design and logo and brand development.

School of Illustration’s Bill Sanchez was her favorite instructor when she studied at the Academy. “I remember asking him how long it takes to make it. He tried to explain that there are many levels of ‘making it,’” said Kabaker.

She explains that making a living as an illustrator can be challenging. “This has forced me to constantly think outside the box, to try never to get stuck, and to freshen up my work constantly.” This is not always easy, she elaborated, especially in terms of remaining inspired and continuing to grow as an artist.

“I had a show last October and decided to paint what I love most — fashion, women and patterns,” said Kabaker. “This painting [the winning cover] came out of that series of paintings, proving to me that doing what you really love is the best way to go.”

Since its appearance on the cover of The New Yorker, Kabaker’s Two Brides illustration has appeared in a number of exhibitions, annuals and other media:

  • The Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, 51st Annual Illustration Exhibition

  • Communication Arts magazine, May/June 2013 issue

  • Print magazine Regional Design Annual, December 2012 issue

Learn more about Kabaker’s cover art and see a slide show and commentary from New Yorker Art Editor Françoise Mouly on other wedding images submitted to the Blown Covers blog here.


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