The cover for the magazine’s fall Style Issue was done by the artist Kadir Nelson, and depicts a vivid, sunlit scene in Central Park. It’s not the first time Nelson has captured a slice of New York life—he’s previously drawn a game of stickball and a day on the beach—and we recently talked to Nelson about his inspirations and his own sense of style.
So you posed for this image in person, as a reference.
Yes. The main subject is dressed all in whites, sitting in the shade next to a beautiful woman, and enjoying a lime-green popsicle. This dude is the embodiment of cool. I don’t think I’m as cool, but I knew what I was aiming for, so I posed for the photo reference.
It’s the Style Issue. What’s the favorite piece of clothing you’ve ever owned?
I have a sleek Armani jacket that dresses up or down really well. It’s very comfortable and stylish. I always get compliments whenever I wear it. My fashion aspirations are very simple: style and comfort.
The ice pop is so specific. Is it a memory or something more imagined?
The image is based on a memory from a trip to South Africa. I was visiting a school and noticed a young, very dark-skinned kid enjoying a bright-turquoise lollipop. The color was amplified against her skin. It was beautiful, and I wanted to create a painting that had a similar feel. But the image is also meant to symbolize the end of summer, so a popsicle made the most sense.
You grew up on the Jersey Shore and went to school in Brooklyn. What are your thoughts on Central Park?
It’s such an amazing place, especially during the summer. On a beautiful day, it’s teeming with people who are bike riding, kayaking, running, playing baseball, sunbathing, etc. I think it’s essential to the well-being of the city.
For more of Nelson’s Cover Stories, see below:
“Schomburg Center, Harlem, New York”
“A Day at the Beach”
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