When life meets art: The Steve Donis story


B.A.S.S. Times illustrator Steve Donis.

“Let me photograph…”

Dateline: The junction called art and life 

“We turn the cube and it twists us.”
— Erno Rubik

You ask of me one thing, and that is to tell the truth.

My bosses ask that of me as well, to be a storyteller, not an instructor on how to tie lines, or what frog to throw to the weeds. 

They and you ask me to write about what it is I see, what it is I am standing in, to parse information and tell a truthful tale.

I tell you this, and the bosses this, because the following story is not what I pitched to the mothership of B.A.S.S. It has some of the pitch, but not much.

The “cube” was this ... how B.A.S.S. Times artist Steve Donis saw the 50th Bassmaster Classic through his pen and words. 

But life pitched something different our way.

And so the following story instead is about the “twist.”

As it should be, if you demand that the tales we tell be based in truth.


“…you in this light…”

Meet Steve Donis (shown above).

“I’m 49 years old, been married to my wife Vicky for, um, 20, no 22 years, have three children Sara 20, Maya 16 and … (then he starts laughing) … Emily, she’s you know, 6…”

I know but don’t ask.

I am in COVID-19 lockdown in Connecticut, Steve is in the same situation but in Illinois just outside Chicago.

I met Steve in the media center at the 50th Bassmaster Classic, had no idea who he was or what he did. He was with B.A.S.S. Times Editor Bryan Brasher, we shook hands along with some small talk, polite stranger stuff.

Bryan: “Steve does work for B.A.S.S. Times.” 

Me: “Oh,” in a room filled with writers I just thought …

Bryan: “He draws those cool illustrations.”

Me: “… huh, what?" (I turn to the new guy named Steve.) You draw, are you an artist?”

Steve just smiles (the right answer). 

Me: “Let’s talk …” 

And so we do, out of hearing of all the other writers in the room because frankly I don’t want them to know what I’m doing. Frankly, I’m sure they don’t care but trust me any reporter who talks about possibly very cool stories around other reporters won’t be a reporter long. I’m not in the tip giving business.

So we talk about Steve drawing his personal view of the Classic, something very cool and colorful, one that would show not only those on stage but those who build the stage, those who weigh the fish …

“Steve this Classic gig I always go into it as if I’m writing about an orchestra, not just the conductor or first violin but also the fourth fiddle guy and the dude dinging the triangle in the back row. Can you draw that?”

“… yeah that’s great that’s what I see to, real colorful, lots of moving parts and views, I get it, get it, lets do it." 

So that’s what I tell B.A.S.S. I’m going to do, and a couple weeks later I get this photo of this drawing.