1xRun Thru Interview
Playboy Print Series by Derek Hess
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about these three Playboy paintings.
Derek Hess: These three pieces are from a large body of work that were all done on Playboy magazine covers. These pieces were created in 2010 and 2011. When the idea to draw nudes on adult magazine covers came to me, Playboy was the obvious choice. The reason for the 1960’s and 1970’s covers was due to my formative years, those issues were my first exposure to naked women, thanks to my Dad and the top shelf of his closet. The other reason is the integrity Playboy has. There is no shock. There are tasteful photos that compliment, not degrade women. They also withstand the test of time which these have or I wouldn’t be working on them some 40 years since they were published.
1xRun: How did you decide on these three pieces? How many were created in total?
Derek Hess: Out of the few hundred of these covers I worked on, these were the final choices to debut the print series, which was extremely difficult. It’s also a main reason why there is a book in the works — which has Hugh Hefner’s blessing — to cover more of them. We decided on these three pieces for a few reasons, the drawing fundamentals, the composition, and that these were basically a few that I was really having fun with, specifically April ’69 where the body is drawn to match the Playmate’s head.
1xRUN: What materials were these pieces drawn and created with?
Derek Hess: It was a trial and error process to find the medium that would lay down nicely on the slick gloss paper. Markers would work, but they’re not archival. Paint would be difficult because it would only lay on the surface, it couldn’t be absorbed through the gloss paper stock. So I chose grease pencils to work with. They have the same flow as a pencil or pen, they adhere to the surface well, and they are archival.
1xRun: How long did each of these pieces take from start to finish?
Derek Hess: They varied, most tended to take about an hour.
1xRun: What is unique about each piece?
Derek Hess: A lot of thought went into what figure would work best with what cover. The background color was important. The Playboy cover had to be thought of as a canvas, the stronger pieces are the ones that the canvas would compliment, color, placement of type and the Playmate. A good composition tended to help make a good composition.
1xRun: Why should people buy one of these prints?
Derek Hess: Because they’re classy.
1xRun: Do you read it just for the articles?
Derek Hess: Doesn’t everybody?
1xRun: Describe The Playboy Series in one gut reaction word.
Derek Hess: Figure drawing with a good delivery system.
1xRun: Who is your favorite Playmate?
Derek Hess: Miss February 1973 & Playmate of the Year 1974 Cyndi Woods.
1xRun: It seems over the past year or so you’ve expanded to some unconventional “canvases” of sorts using old media like these Playboy covers, along with vintage sheet music and more. Did the idea build from the Playboy pieces or have you always toyed with different media like this?
Derek Hess: Yes the Playboys were the spark. I’ve worked on different surfaces a little bit in the past, but not like I have been recently. The medium I’m having the most fun with at present time are 8 track tapes. cool ones, rock from the 1970’s like Boston, Kiss, Mott The Hoople, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and so on. Finding the ones I like is half the fun.
1xRun: You definitely seem to be staying busy, what else do you have coming up?
Derek Hess: I’ve been working up a pretty large body of work of those 8 tracks. I will have a show in September in Los Angeles that will feature all of the ones I’ve completed so far. Also, a few books are nearing completion, i continue to produce prints, original pen, ink, and acrylic pieces, and I just finished a Soundgarden poster.