More from my cartoonist buddy, Randy Enos.
As the 20th century prepared to give up the ghost in October of 1999, a remarkable thing happened. Thanks to the hard work of the famous illustrator Brad Holland, Dugald Stermer and others, the Illustrators Partnership had been formed. They realized that the illustration business was changing and morphing and that all the illustrators should probably meet and discuss and learn about how to go forward. We all decided to hold a convention, a giant powwow, a conference where things could be hashed out. Illustrators had never had a convention before. It was decided that we would all meet in Santa Fe. I grabbed my wife and we got on a plane to New Mexico along with over 600 other illustrators from the U.S. and a few from other countries, most with wives, husbands, girlfriends, and boyfriends. My closest friend Gene Hoffman and wife drove down from Colorado.
Some of us had rooms in the big Santa Fe hotel where all of the seminars were being held. When we arrived at the hotel, there was another convention just leaving. They were all young people with “Bayer” tags on them. They were bright-eyed, clean cut, well dressed young folks with new attractive luggage. As we approached the elevator, it disgorged a swarm of them checking out. After we unloaded our luggage in our room, we went back down to the lobby where we witnessed the most astonishing sight. The two factions, the departing Bayer people and the incoming illustrators were crisscrossing in the big lobby. I was watching the open mouthed reactions of the hotel employees as this neat, clean, well dressed outgoing parade of young Bayers passed the rag-tag, bearded, long-haired scruffy illustrators who were disgorged from the cabs lugging their beat-up brown leather luggage across the lobby floor. I could hear them thinking, “What the hell is this? What are we in for?”
The suits and dresses got into the cabs that were depositing a virtual sea of denim. Every illustrator was dressed in blue denim it seemed. The best way to describe the scene was that it was like an explosion in a blue jeans factory.
Later, after everyone was settled in, we all assembled in a big room adjacent to a lecture hall. We had our name tags and everyone was curious as to just who was there so we all roamed the room discovering old friends and spotting some super-star illustrators that we only knew by name and reputation. Now this feat was not easy to accomplish because whoever had made up the name tags made a fatal mistake.
Illustrators recognize each other by last names mostly… or first and last names together, not just by Bob or Jim or Jack. The person who was responsible for the name tags had printed them out with very large first names and very very small last names underneath. So you had to go up to a Jack, for instance, and come very close and squint at the name tag to see the tiny “Unruh” underneath. Some of us had never met others or had not seen them for a long time which was the case of the gentleman who approached me and had to lean down to within inches of my tag to read “Randall… Enos, ” Oh, Randy!” It was Dugald Stermer who I hadn’t seen for many years. But, just then, we were all called to go into the lecture hall for the opening introductory speeches.
I sat there in the middle of a sea of 600 illustrators and was surprised to see that it was Dugald who took the stage as the first welcomer to the conference. Then, the biggest shock of my life happened. The VERY FIRST two words out his mouth were… RANDALL… ENOS! He parodied himself squinting down as he had moments before to see my tag. And then he followed up with, “Who in the hell printed out these name tags?”
Later, most of us amended our tags by hand-writing our last names over the tiny printed one (see my attached photo of my name tag. You can barely see the tiny “Enos”).
Gene Hoffman and I stayed in the hotel for the three days (the wives went out riding the plateaus with cowboys), to meet all our heroes and reconnect with old friends and attend all the seminars. We were both terrible groupies. The first evening found us in a lovely hotel lounge drinking with our colleagues and listening to the piano music. The piano player was rendering old standards and my wife, who is a terrific singer, was singing along because she knows the words to every song that’s ever been written. He called her up next to him and gave her a mic. For the next couple of evenings she performed for everyone.
On the last day there we did venture out on the street for the first time and I had fun with the shop keepers and people in the restaurants explaining that even though I wore a big turquoise ring, Navajo watch, my hair in a long braid, Indian earrings, cowboy boots and Stetson, I had never before ventured west and was a rock-bound New Englander who had grown up eating clam chowder and lobster.
Same story in New York as we ambled out into the airport looking all the world like hicks from the west comin’ ta see the big city.
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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories: