Find out why illustrator Emiliano Ponzi is so respected at The New York Times

12 April 2012

Thanks to Ron Burgundy, the term “big deal” has been undermined in recent years but it’s time to reclaim it because make no mistake, Emiliano Ponzi is a big deal. The Milan-based illustrator is a master of delicate yet powerfully descriptive drawings which have made him the go-to guy for a host of clients – think The New Yorker, Le Monde, The Guardian, Penguin, The Economist, Saatchi and Saatchi, you get the picture.

He has two gold medals from the Society of Illustrators of America and now Emiliano’s work is going on show in the gallery on the seventh floor of The New York Times’ Manhattan office. The iconic newspaper hosts four to five exhibitions a year, and it was Nicholas Blechman, art director of The New York Times Book Review, who was given the task of curating Ponzi’s work into a cohesive whole.

“Ponzi approached me about eight months ago about doing an exhibit of his work at The Times, and I was immediately interested,” Nicholas told It’s Nice That. “He regularly contributes to our pages, and is one of the more important illustrators working today.

“I’m attracted to the strong graphic quality of his work, grounded in conceptual thinking. Each composition is the expression of an idea.”

"These illustrations know how to be universal without being generic."

Nicholas Blechman

He expands on this idea in the foreword to a book about Ponzi published recently, saying: “These illustrations know how to be universal without being generic… (they) answer perfectly to the Munari principle, for whom the designer must be able to answer with humility and talent, the questions made by the society in which he lives.”

It was the illustrator who selected 60 possible works before Blechman and his team edited the final selection down to 40, “and then we covered one wall, floor to ceiling, with his sketches.”

It’s no surprise that Blechman says he looks for “a unique style, and the clear communication of an idea” when assessing new illustrators, and any up-and-coming image-makers could do worse than to study Emiliano Ponzi. He’s kind of a big deal.


Emiliano Ponzi for The New York Times


Emiliano Ponzi for ASAE


Emiliano Ponzi for The Economist


Emiliano Ponzi for Pentagram


Emiliano Ponzi invite for The New York Times show

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About the Author

Rob Alderson

Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.

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