Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

A Letter from Anson Stevens-Bollen |

It was eight years ago, fresh out of college, and a certain someone came across an ad for one of my dream jobs (side note: love you mom): the chance to draw and design professionally … I only dreamed of that since doing ’92 pixel by pixel in MS Paint and Claris Works. Sounds strange? That’s why this is my dream job.

I had admired the reporter, especially the cover, for as long as I could remember. Now, with my associate degree in media arts from Santa Fe Community College, I made my move. I managed to get an interview and with a tie on my neck I sold my skills in front of a group of people including my editor and now friend and SFR publisher Julie Ann Grimm.

By what I can only imagine was a stunning, awe-inspiring speech about pixels, and I eventually managed to earn a position in the top 3 potential art directors. It was game on!

I took on the challenge of creating an illustration for next week’s cover just two days in advance. I was a little nervous but did a solid 12 hours of quality work. The one we all liked best became the cover of the story “Jewel Duel” on November 13, 2013.

When I found out I got the job, not only did I break a camera right away, I was excited too! But to be honest, as an artist, I was more excited to have my illustration on the cover. I had dreamed of this moment for so long; The chance that my art would be seen by thousands of people at the same time was an incredible feeling. For months I was in awe that my art was being regularly delivered to the masses. And all the stress, typography, and layout design were just a nice bonus.

Although I have come to appreciate the many other facets of my job more and more, I still have this original feeling. My favorite covers include:

  • Fuera Trump, Aug 10, 2016: I had a lot of fun making this piece out of clay that taught me how to draw Trump for future projects (many of them, as it turned out to be). Nothing beats dirty hands.
  • The Candy Man, November 8, 2017: This CandyLand parody board illustrates the downfall of Senator Phil Griego, who was convicted and imprisoned for violating conflict of interest rules.
  • “Dark Window”, December 12th, 2018: In order to realize this cover about the shooting of a mentally ill young man by the police in Santa Fe, I had to watch the graphic video over and over to show his last moments exactly. It was very intense and has always stayed with me. I think it was a good cover because it shows how over the top the police can be with their guns and tactics.

I now have over 500 cover illustrations in my luggage (some better than others, none is perfect), but I still get that certain special feeling with every creation. Over time, the feeling has changed a bit. I realized that not only are writers and I having fun doing our work at Reporter, but more importantly, we’re producing stories that really help others. And for me, a properly illustrated cover and good inline art have the potential to change or educate someone for the better. That has now become my goal, and that is what I enjoy most. I am in awe and humility that I have hope of creating compelling, sad, funny, and weird art well into the future. And all of this is thanks to you. I hope you can continue to help us keep hope alive.


This letter from Anson Stevens-Bollen is part of a series about Friends of the Reporter, a new model in support of our journalistic mission. Visit sfreporter.com/friends to make a one-time or recurring donation, or check to PO Box 4910, Santa Fe, NM 87502. The New Mexico Local News Fund will match up to $ 3,000 in donations by the end of 2021. Our website and weekly print edition every Wednesday remain free for all readers.

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