Here's a marvelous revelation: although these two illustrations were created by two different artists for two different publications, and although one of those artists was a man and the other a woman, and although one was an established master and the other a rising star... these two artists and these two illustrations were, 54 years ago, seperated by a distance of only a few feet and a wall in a downtown New York office building.
54 years ago Joe DeMers (above) was one of America's most sought after commercial artists and one of the most valued members of the preeminent art studio in New York: the Charles E. Cooper studio.
Only a few feet away, occupying DeMers' old office, was a neophyte illustrator named Barbara Briggs (later Bradley) who was only two years into her career. Speaking about DeMers, whom she considered very much a mentor in those days, Barbara says, "Joe did several Good Housekeeping Kid covers while I was there. I have one with a little girl and Cocker Spaniel puppies at the AA office. He also did at least one Life Savers ad which is one reason I was so thrilled to get my first. Though he wasn't considered a kid artist, he did many and his style with children is lovely. It influenced me a great deal. I tried to be looser."
Of her own early effort (above) Barbara modestly says, "Of course, you can run my piece, but it was an early piece and it's a little embarrassing to have it next to Joe's."
In spite of how she may feel, I want to thank Barbara for sharing her illustration with us so we could more keenly appreciate that moment in time, half a century ago, when two artists shared a common space and a common theme as they strove to interpret, through their art, an American ideal: Independence.
Happy 4th of July to all our friends, neighbours and relatives in the United States of America!