When it comes to creating incredible images, like those in our “Best Performances” portfolio, artist Charles Broderson has the background covered. Charles Broderson, who created some of the murals in our “Best Performances” portfolio, admits that the backdrop business doesn’t necessarily have the most stylish connotations. “It sounds like some cheesy carnival thing,” he says. “But I think I transcended that.” Indeed, Broderson—an art-school grad and erstwhile Wilhelmina model who found that painting pictures was more lucrative than posing for them—has designed scenery for clients as diverse as Annie Leibovitz, Hermès, and 30 Rock. (When Diana Vreeland needed someone to paint Newport beaches and Parisian rose gardens for her “La Belle Epoque” show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in 1982, she knew who to call.)

Broderson, who started his company in 1974, estimates that his stock, housed in a studio in New York’s Union Square, includes more than 700 canvases, from abstract art and intricate interiors to complex cityscapes. And despite digital advances, he still prefers to make them the old-fashioned way: “I’m just a paint-and-brush kind of person.”