Antonio Lopez when I was 18 years old. My cousin Stacy was attending Art Center College of Design and invited me to a lecture and workshop he was hosting there. I was studying fashion design at what was then Otis Parsons and jumped at the chance to meet the illustrator whose dynamic compositions donned the pages of Interview and Vanity Fair.
He gave a presentation about his work as a fashion illustrator and then hosted a two day drawing workshop in a large open studio with about 100 students, 10 high fashion models, his assistant Juan Ramos and a bengal tiger. Yes, I did say bengal tiger... While he taught us to draw he also painted a ten foot tall by forty foot foot wide mural that was to hang in the windows of Bloomingdales. I will never forget watching him work - his sweeping black brush strokes brought the white canvases alive in front of my eyes with such elegance and high fashion I was star struck. At the end of the workshop he signed posters for the students. I waited in line thinking of something clever to say when it was my turn. I hadn't done much drawing in class (I was a beginner and not confident in my work) and had shied away from starting conversations with him or asking for critiques. He signed my poster with his name and a series of numbers. I asked him if those were his lucky lottery numbers and he replied, "it's my phone number, call me when you are in New York!"
Jump ahead into the twenty-first century and I now have the pleasure of imparting some of his wisdom to a group of eight middle school students at da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland, OR. Yesterday we had a lesson on illustrating hands and feet (in shoes.) These kids are fearless and already understand gesture, line weight and composition. I am so inspired by their energy! I wish I could bring them all back to 1985 to that room at Art Center so they could draw in the presence of Antonio and his entouragé. I would love to see what they would have created! For the record I did meet up with Antonio in NYC. I followed him to a class he taught at Altos de Chavon in the Domincan Republic and cried when he died of aids in 1987. He was a generous and wonderful person who taught me how to see with my hands.