I studied as an illustrator but I had a tough transition between art school and finding a job. I took a part-time job to make some money and continued to search for illustration work. I even took flowers to one art director but I didn't get the job. A year and a half went by and I found a job listing looking for an artist for Late Night with David Letterman. It was a 9-to-5 job at Rockefeller Center creating graphics and illustration with older artists who still wore suits and ties to work.
There were no computers in 1985, at least at NBC. My artwork was done with pencil, paintbrush and airbrush. The artwork was used on props and held at the desk by Dave to illustrate a joke. I was thrilled the day we got a black-and-white copier that meant I could enlarge my artwork two hundred percent.
We had about 13 writers on staff. They would come up with the concepts and hand me a script to visualize and illustrate. One of my favorite assignments was to illustrate Connie Chung as a pin-up girl similar to those found on wartime fighter planes. The illustration was put on the nose of a jet for Late Night's show in the air. Dave taped the show with a staff audience as we flew from New York to Miami. He wore a bomber jacket with Connie pin-up.
I would also help out Saturday Night Live, the show next door to ours because they did not have a staff illustrator. The Graphic artists are always invited to the end of season SNL parties because we made the invitations. Rubbing shoulders with Dana Carvey, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Bruce Springsteen, we all would dance around the Rock center fountain. Everyone was high. Cocaine was the drug of choice ( it was the 80's!) in the almost impossible and demanding Wed - Sat work week. They needed something to keep them going. The NBC dealer's office was next door to mine so I often had to reassure desperate performers and writers that he would be back soon.
In the early 90s NBC finally got a Mac computer. I took some design classes. A few years later Dave Letterman excepted the CBS offer to move his Late Night show to the Ed Sullivan theater. The shows director Hal Gurney came to me and asked for some Late Show logo designs because they weren't happy with the big Los Angeles design company logos. The "Late Show with David Letterman" logo is the first computer logo I designed on a computer only because the art supply store no longer carried press type, a sheet of letters that you rub down on paper. Around the same time he wanted a marquee design for The Sullivan theater on Broadway as well as storyboards for the new opening of the show. I loved collaborating with the director because it allowed me the chance to use many of my own ideas in the sketches that I was creating for the concept storyboards.
Dave always had final approval of everything I created. Our meetings were alway quiet and awkward. He would always be the shy guy in the corner at a staff party. It was only when the lights and cameras turned on that you got Dave the entertainer.
I continued to draw for Dave for about 25 years, creating Top Ten storyboards and computer animations.