Slideshow: Illustration Drafts of the Obama Baby Jan/Feb Cover Art

Rough drafts, vintage Saturday Evening Post images, and more details from the design process behind our Jan/Feb Obama baby cover art, as explained by Tim J Luddy, <i>MoJo</i>‘s creative director.

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Tim J Luddy explains:
When we started developing Mother JonesJanuary/February 2009 cover,
we were looking for a way to depict President-elect Barack Obama in a
lighthearted way, while acknowledging the mammoth task he has ahead of
him the minute he assumes office. After rejecting numerous ideas,
including one of Hercules shoveling dung out of the Augean stables
(you’re welcome!), we were intrigued by the image of Obama as an
innocent New Year’s baby (the thinking being that “innocence” can mean
“not guilty” of said mess, but can also imply “inexperienced.”)

I arrived at Norman Rockwell’s predecessor at the Saturday Evening Post, illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, who blogger Charley Parker claims
to be the source of the New Year’s baby metaphor. Aside from having
developed the “Arrow shirt man” (reportedly a likeness of Leyendecker’s
partner of 48 years, Charles Beach), and Saturday Evening Post covers throughout the first half of the 20th century, it seems that Leyendecker created the New Year’s baby image for a 1908 Post cover and continued to explore variations on that theme until his very last cover, on their January 2, 1943, issue.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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