ROBERT M. STEINER
If any single artist deserves
the title, King of the Duck Stamps, it is Bob Steiner. So
far, he has designed forty-five state duck stamps, including
three first-of-state (1989 Rhode Island, 1990 Colorado, and
1991 New Mexico), and now, the 1998 Federal.
Robert Marc Steiner was born
in Philadelphia, on October 10, 1949, the only one of five
boys to be artistically inclined. His father would have preferred
that he follow a career in finance, but while still in high
school he won an art scholarship to the school of his choice.
He earned his degree from the Rhode Island School of Design
and completed his masters degree at San Francisco State.
Bob's family moved to Florida
when he was just a youngster, and while in high school he
became an accomplished surfer. He had two very close calls
while surfing. Once, he "wiped out" on a coral reef
but instead of being cut to ribbons, a swell carried his body
over the coral to the safety of deeper water. The other, he
was paddling on his surfboard when he realized that he was
in the midst of a school of barracuda. He barely managed to
get his hands clear of the water as the predatory fish swam
under his surfboard.
After graduating from the Rhode
Island School of Design, he decided to hop a freight train
to the west coast. He met two other men about his age in the
freight yard and they decided to travel together. Once, while
the train was stopped, he went inside to wash up, and on his
return he realized that the train was already pulling out
and had reached a speed which made it difficult to catch.
He caught the flatbed on which his two companions were riding
and leaped for their outstretched hands. It was only after
they pulled him onto the flatbed, that he realized that had
he missed, he would have fallen onto the tracks and under
Another time, he and his companions
went to sleep in an empty refrigerator car. The refrigeration
unit was turned off, so they left the door open for fresh
air. Not knowing that anyone was inside, someone closed the
door from the outside. They began making as much noise as
they could, but it was twenty-four hours before anyone heard
them. The men who released them told them that it is not unusual
for empty refrigerator cars to be parked and locked for as
long as three or four months at a time.
Upon arriving in California,
he rented an apartment and began free-lancing his art on the
street and illustrating for various magazines. He also taught
art at the College of Marin, West Valley College, San Francisco
City College, Osborne College, and many others.
For nearly ten years, Bob's life
was a duke's mixture of studying, teaching part-time, and
free-lancing for magazines. In the fall of 1978 he decided
to go on a hike organized by the Sierra Club into the Oakland
Hills area. While on the hike he met Claire "Boots"
Whitmer, a newly-minted attorney, and the attraction was mutual.
Four years later they were married. They have two children,
Marc and Katie.
The Steiners are quite proud
of restoring their residence, a1912, Edwardian house right
in the city of San Francisco. It was constructed shortly after
the great earthquake and has wood-paneled rooms, high ceilings,
and a back yard large enough to attract a good deal of wildlife.
Bob's hobbies are downhill skiing,
duck hunting, fishing, and stamp collecting. He is a better
than average skier and a good wingshot on ducks. His favorite
quarry for fishing is salmon and he is quite successful at
it. His biggest prize, though, is the six-foot long sturgeon
which he landed after waiting in one spot for two and a half
hours for the tide to be just right.
Bob and his family visited Italy
prior to starting his duck stamp entry. They toured Venice,
went to the Sistine Chapel, and saw as many of the masterpieces
of western art as time allowed. On their return, Bob was so
energized by the art which he saw, that it actually helped
him with his duck stamp entry. The "adrenaline rush"
paid off. There is no question that the duck stamp design
world hasn't heard the last of Bob Steiner.