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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

"A.S." : Cute Kid Artist Extraordinaire

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For quite a while now I've been setting aside these ads featuring the ultra-cute Karo Kid. The artist managed to develop a formula for drawing a kid that is so cute it almost becomes... unsettling. I knew I'd have to present these ads to you eventually and what better time than "Cute Kid Week"?

And then - wow! As I was scanning these ads for today's post I suddenly noticed that tiny initialled signature, "A.S.", and realized that this was the same illustrator who did the Thermos ad from Monday (and no doubt the other Thermos ad I featured a few weeks ago). It was one of those neat moments in my ongoing study of the history of mid-twentieth century illustration when two pieces of the enormous puzzle fit together!

Whoever "A.S." was, this illustrator sure could paint cute kids! And, as is often the nature of a career in commercial art, may well have been a specialist in that specific subject matter.

Since those Thermos ads appeared about a decade after these Karo Kid ads, we have the unique opportunity to see how "A.S."'s style evolved. Quite nicely, I think.

His Thermos kids have a touch more realism - while still being very commercially idealized - and the more painterly approach lends them an appealing softness.

You can get a closer look at all of "A.S."'s illustrations at full size in my Cute Kids Flickr set.


  1. Hi Leif,

    He(she) sure did cute kids, but in the Happy Holiday Hunting image the elipse of the mouth of the gun muzzle looks wrong to me.

    It's to my right but he has drawn it like it is to my left.

  2. Yeah... now that you mention it, Eric, it DOES look a little odd!

  3. ...not nearly as odd as the notion that a little baby is shooting a gun to begin with.

  4. I'm confused... isn't the right of every little baby to bear arms enshrined in the American Constitution, David...? ;-)

  5. I can't define better the rules for drawing kids from the authors of books so I thought I could just add some pictures that came to my mind.
    Dorothea Fox:

  6. The ellipse of the gun barrel is to "open", too wide: it should have been a 15° or 10°(degree) ellipse.

  7. Thank you Monsieur Milot, technical illustrator and professional gunsmith. ;-)

  8. Mark Harris10:59 AM

    On top of ellipse issues, these kids , for me, have crossed the blurry line from cute to creepy. It's the eyes I think

  9. Mir, thanks for that link! I've always wondered about who did those illustrations. :-)

  10. Hi! Just happily stumbled across your site will doing my own research on the same question - WHO is the A.S. who drew those disturbingly cute Karo Kids?!?!?! Seems he's Arthur Sarnoff - info here:
    Thanks for the great images!

  11. Um, make that =WHILE= doing my own research . . . . .DUH.





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