Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
RIP, Bob Watts
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
I worked with Bob at Salon. He was in Editorial, which kind of intimidated me. I was more on the technical side if anything, but the rule was that anybody could come to the morning story meeting, so I often did. I liked sitting next to him and seeing him sketch or manage email workflow as we talked, especially because he helped me feel like I had a place at the table (literally). I can attest to the warm, gentle character he always showed. I think he was the first working artist I ever saw producing work day after day, showing me that the visual side of publications as much as the text side is about making great stuff on a deadline. On the walls in that conference room someone had hung inspired pieces of art from Salon pieces and covers past. I wonder how many of those were his.
When I went on the Salon summer retreat in 2003, I hung out with his wife Lori and daughter Cady. We talked about books, of course. It was obvious what nurturing and creative parents Bob and Lori were.
He got the cancer diagnosis the year I started working at Salon, and everybody knew, but from the fact that he kept coming back to work after treatments I assumed he was fighting it off. I'm so sad I was wrong. I'll miss him and I know everyone who worked with him will too. Scott and Joan speak with more eloquence and greater intimacy -- I wish I'd gotten to know him as closely as they did.