August 20, 2017
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.


Steve Brodner

After getting his BFA at  Cooper Union in 1976 Brodner became editorial cartoonist at The Hudson Dispatch, in Union City, New Jersey. In 1977 Steven Heller, protean art director of The New York Times Book Review, began tapping him for illustration assignments. Eventually Brodner realized he could survive nicely just doing this without ever having a real job. This is called Freelance Illustration. To this day he is still confused about how this works.

In 1979-82 he published his own journal, The New York Illustrated News which was a little like this Bicycle but using a technique called printing. In 1981 he became a regular contributor to Harper’s magazine with the monthly feature, “Ars Politica”, a name thought up by Lewis Lapham, Harper’s editor. In the late 1980’s, as editors realized that Ronald Reagan was less like an Olympian God and more like a rotting puppet, more magazines asked Brodner to contribute regularly. These included the National Lampoon, Sports Illustrated, Playboy and Spy. In 1988 Esquire brought him in as an unofficial house artist. It was there that he did portrait caricature, art journalism and a back-page political cartoon, “Adversaria”. This all served to convince him that illustration was an important part of the mix of any journalistic enterprise. Well . . . isn’t it?  Since then he has worked for most major publications in the US and Canada.

Ship of Fools with type

Art Journalism

In visual essays Steve Brodner has covered eight national political conventions for Esquire, The Progressive, the Village Voice and others. His article, “Plowed Under”, a series of portraits and interviews with beleaguered farm families in the Midwest ran in The Progressive, which, at that time was a modern mecca for political art, thanks to Patrick jb Flynn, crusading art director. “Shot From Guns”, an art documentary about the Colt Firearms strike in Hartford, Connecticut appeared in Northeast magazine in 1989. For The New Yorker he covered Oliver North and the 1994 Virginia Senate race, the Patrick Buchanan presidential campaign, the Million Man March and an advance story on the Democratic Convention in Chicago, 1996. The Washington Post asked him to profile the Bob Dole presidential campaign in 1996. In spring 1997, he  wrote and drew an ten-page article on the South by Southwest Music Festival for Texas Monthly. That summer he climbed Mt. Fuji for Outside Magazine. That fall he did a piece on the New York City mayoral campaign for New York Magazine. His eight-page profile of George W. Bush appeared in Esquire in October, 1998, in which Bush said to him, “Maybe I’ll see you in national politics next year, maybe not. Either way, I have a cool life.” In 2000 he dealt with the difficult issue of guns in Pennsylvania for Philadelphia Magazine. Texas Monthly published his 10 page story on Colonias (Mexican Americans along the Texas border) called “In America”, May, 2005.  In 2007, he traipsed around the Texas State House at Austin in a freewheeling story for Texas Monthly.


His first book, “Fold ‘N Tuck”, an outgrowth of his Esquire page, was published in 1990 by Doubleday.

His animated film and book “Davy Crockett” was produced by Rabbit Ears Productions in 1992.

He illustrated the book “Sharing the Pie” by Steven Brouwer which was published in 1997 by Henry Holt.

His collected political work was published in “Freedom Fries”, by Fantagraphics Books, 2004.

In 2011 Bingsop’s Fables, with a book-full of drawings by Brodner, set to tales from the Darwinian world of business by the sharp-toothed humorist Stanley Bing.

“Artists Against the War”, published Jan. 2011, is inspired by the exhibition by the same name at the Society of Illustrators, involving 64 artists contributing art in opposition to the war in Iraq.


* In 1998 he designed and painted the movie poster for Warren Beatty’s “Bulworth”.

The 2010-2011 poster, print and web campaign for INFOR, done with PJA Marketing.


His documentary short “September, 2001” was shown in conjunction with the Sundance Film Festival, 2002.

A series of 28 “Naked Campaign” films was produced for The New Yorker’s website with collaborator Gail Levin and Asterisk studios, 2008

A series of short political films for PBS’ Need to Know, 2010-2011, written and directed by Brodner, production by The Refinery.


Beginning in 2006, Brodner has been an inveterate blogger.  Now with the site you are presently on, blogging in 6 dimensions, Brodner’s Bicycle.


* In 1996 Brodner was a commentator in PBS’s Frontline documentary about the presidential election, “The Choice”, in which he drew on camera.

* In 2004, guest appearances on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, The Leonard Lopate Show, PBS Chicago etc.

*Was the subject of a major career retrospective at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Jun-Oct. 2008, as presented here by Charles Sable, curator, at the time:

Awards / Teaching

Lecturing at Savannah College of Art and Design, 2009

* Numerous awards from the Society of Illustrators, Art Directors Club, SPD, SND, American Illustration, Communication Arts.

* The 2000 Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, Hunter College, NY.

* 2005 Society of Illustrators Hamilton King Award for best art in show by an SI member.

*2007 Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society for Best Magazine Illustration of the Year.

*2010 St. Gaudens Award for Alumni Achievement, The Cooper Union.

*2010 Reuben Award from The NCS for Advertising.

*2011 Gold medal, Editorial, Society of Illustrators

*He teaches narrative art at the School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology. Named one of “NY’s Leading Professors” by The NY Observer, 2015.

Organizer and moderator of “Illustration Next” at SVA, spring, 2010.

Steve Brodner is a great admirer of Cynthia Rose with whom he is raising two dogs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.


Interview with Steven Heller for Print magazine, 2009: