Time sharing

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Last year, C.F. Payne, chairman of the Illustration Department at the Columbus College of Art & Design, was one of a handful of illustrators asked to create a portrait of Barack Obama for Time Magazine's hallmark "Man of the Year" issue. Then art director Arthur Hochstein called to say his piece had narrowly missed being chosen.

"I think he was trying to make me feel better by telling me I had come in second," said Payne. "But can you name any of the athletes who came in second in Michael Phelps' Olympic races?"

During his lengthy, prosperous career, Payne had already produced eight covers for Time and had work featured by countless other publications, including Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated and Mad Magazine. Still, he'd hoped to be a part of this important moment in U.S. history. For this assignment, he had reined in his more caricature-driven style to create a portrait in the spirit of Time's 1940s covers.

Time decided to hold onto Payne's illustration, and then, with a president-elect far too busy for a photo shoot, elected to use it as the cover for its inaugural preview.

"You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was just thrilled," said Payne. "For me, that was as important as Man of the Year."

Outside of some extra press attention, celebrating the accomplishment has been pretty low-key.

"Your aunt and your cousins and folks like that give you a shout, and that's nice," said Payne. "Illustrators tend to work alone, so it's nice to have a reason to hear from people."

And while Payne is happy to momentarily bask in his recent accomplishment, he's happier still to talk about the achievements of his past students at CCAD, and those of the school as a whole.

A.G. Ford, who graduated in 2007, recently illustrated a best-selling children's book called Barack (authored by Jonah Winter) about the new president. Eri Hashimoto, another alum, is illustrating for the Canton Repository, while Greg Swearingen is illustrating children's books.

"As a teacher, that to me is the best part, because this is a tough business," said Payne.