Calista Flockhart, Hugh Grant, Salman Rushdie, and other famous faces have been the illustrator's subjects

John Cuneo’s life as an artist began with a pat on the head. ”It was for a drawing of a tree I did in the first or second grade,” says Cuneo, 43, who lives in Denver with his wife, Jan, and son, Jack, 5. ”Being so desperate for any kind of encouragement, I immediately made a career choice.” His decision has paid off handsomely: Cuneo’s dead-on, detail-rich drawings of stars such as Calista Flockhart, Hugh Grant, and Salman Rushdie have peppered these pages — most notably in EW’s review sections — over the last four years. (His favorite celeb subject is Steven Tyler: ”God’s gift to caricaturists.”) For the illustrator and one-time dirty-greeting card designer, whose work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, and Outside, success hasn’t made his job any easier. When Jodie Foster opted not to star in Hannibal, Cuneo says, ”I said a silent prayer of thanks.” Drawing Foster’s exquisite face is ”brutal for me.” Of course, an even bigger fear is that empty canvas. ”I’m afraid every morning when I look at the blank page,” he admits. ”The trick is to not let the art director smell it.”