Steve Brodner Profile
posted: December 19, 2006
On the alert....
The other day I met with Steve Brodner, 52, for a cup of coffee before the class he teaches at SVA. He talked about some of the things that motivate him.

"My first drawings were of the characters I saw on television: the easy ones, like Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse. Bugs Bunny came later because he was harder; he had more circles.

"The first political drawing I ever did was when Kennedy was killed. My parents were watching TV all weekend and there was this horribly dirge-y music playing and people were filing past the casket, and you got to basically listen to Walter Cronkite just blab on and on about the youngest president to be elected and the youngest president to die in office and they kept mentioning the late President Kennedy. So I did a cartoon of Kennedy looking at his watch, being late. I was nine years old.

"I just loved to draw and then, as happens with a lot of kids, I discovered that when I draw a picture and it's good, everybody goes crazy. I realized I had this power to affect social interaction; that suddenly the rules of social engagement were changed because I had this talent. I was also sort of a class clown and so I made stupid jokes all the time and that would also change the dynamic. Anything to change the dynamic; I was always the smallest kid, so it's a typical story, right? The comedian is always the kid who's using language to find a way to be exceptional – or at least not to be the low man on the totem pole. For me, it was being a wise guy and being a caricaturist. If you did a dead-on caricature of a teacher in class and we passed it around, you might get sent to the dean’s office but, hell, everyone thought you were great!

"And that perception has remained throughout my life: that if I did drawings that were provocative and interesting, people paid attention. And it's a great rush that I get to this very minute.

"But, you know, fear is my greatest motivator. I'm afraid of everything. I'm on a constant, unending roller coaster of fear. I know that terrorists are going to get nuclear bombs. And what happens then? Well, we say goodbye to a whole lot of things. If we had been grown up and matured, especially after the end of the Cold War, we would have figured out how to stop the bomb from spreading. But we didn’t do that. And it's too late now. And we're destroying the planet with our use of fossil fuels. And we're losing species at an alarming rate: in 50 years, we'll have no fish left at all.

"And that’s just for starters."