Plunkert's work has appeared in Esquire, Forbes, GQ, The New Yorker, Time, Reader's Digest, Playboy and Rolling Stone magazines, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He has also worked extensively with publishers and recording artists; among his credits are the covers for Natan Sharansky’s Case for Democracy and Richard Thompson’s You? me? us? Major entertainment clients have included MTV and Capitol Records. He has illustrated postage stamps for the United States Postal Service and produced over 70 posters for Theatre Project Baltimore.
In addition, Plunkert has produced illustrations for the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and for Woodstock 94. In 1995 he created the art for the Yugo Next exhibition poster at New York's Grand Central Terminal; The National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, DC described Yugo Next as “one of the greatest ever examples of public art.”
With an early interest in cartooning, he self-published comics in high school which helped land him a summer job in a small printing company. A graduate of Shepherd University with a degree in Visual Communication, he worked first for a graphic design firm art directing and doing some of the illustrations himself.
His first big break as an illustrator was with Mid-Atlantic Country magazine. Unlike his present mode of production, this was all cut-and-paste. While he had art directed illustrators at the design firm, he’ll admit he had no idea how an editorial illustator operated on a day-to-day basis. This first assignment provided some practical essentials—things like nailing down the deadline, budget and keeping travel to a minimum. Seeking work as an illustrator was mostly door-to-door in the beginning until several of his pieces made the big time in American Illustration. Then it was katy-bar-the-door for the rest of the 90s and 00s. After freelancing for a few years in 1995 he and his wife, illustrator Joyce Hesselberth, formed Spur Design in Baltimore, Maryland.
Asked if being an art director affects his illustration work, he replied “I think being an art director/designer makes me more informed of how illustration fits into the thing. By thing I mean poster, animation, newspaper, magazine, etc. Illustration is one other thing in a designer’s quiver with photography and type to solve a visual communication problem.” He added a very helpful hint, “I suspect that a sketch is way more likely to get approved by the way, if the art director shows it to the editor in context on the page, or with the cover dress as opposed to on its own.” Working as an illustrator has made him a more laid back art director, “You generally get better work from people if you give them space to do their thing and getting pleasantly surprised is the best part of working with a talented illustrator.”
His illustrations have been recognized by American Illustration, Communication Arts and The Society of Publication Designers. Dave’s work has been collected by the Library of Congress and The Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum among others, and exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Design Museum of London. He has received gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and was awarded Best Magazine Cover of the Year by The American Society of Magazine Editors for his August 28th, 2017 cover of The New Yorker. His work is in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, The University of California Design Museum and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. In 2011, Plunkert was inducted into the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale.
He has taught graphic design and illustration at his alma mater and Maryland Institute College of Art.
3x3 International Illustration Awards Show No. 16
Deadline: Friday, March 22, 2019 without late fees
Final Deadline: March 29)
Show Chair: Melinda Beck