Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tying Up Loose Ends: Mike Ludlow

Way back in February of 2006 I posted an album cover and expressed my frustration at not being able to decipher the artist's scribbled signature.

Thanks to a visitor to my Flickr archives, Harold Henriksen, we now know for sure that the artist is Mike Ludlow. Harold graciously sent me the scan above from the 1966-67 Illustrators Annual.

Until about 1960, when he was still receiving projects from The Saturday Evening Post, Ludlow was working in his familiar 50's-era gouache technique and painting the easy-to-read signature you can see below.

But as magazine assignments dried up in the 60's, Ludlow seems to have established a steady client in RCA/Victor records. With the change in time and venue came a change both in style and signature for Ludlow.

His painting style became even more rough and energetic, reflecting a major trend in illustration during the 60's as practiced by many of the 'realistic' artists who had dominated the business in the 50's.

The 1964 piece below shows just how daring Mike Ludlow became in just a few short years. His slashing, scribbling style and bold colour scheme transport the viewer into the midst of the whirling, festive atmosphere of the ballroom scene he portrays for us. Ludlow tightened up in painting the girl's face - making sure to get an accurate likeness of the star of the play, I suppose - and the result is a bit like a camera effect, with a tight focus on what is clearly the most important element of the larger image.

And that new, modern Ludlow scribble signature? There it is, partially obscured by the bottom of the black type box, along the edge of a palm frond.

All of these images are now in my Mike Ludlow Flickr set - and many thanks to Harold for solving this mystery!


  1. Mike represents a nice cross-over of illustration and fine arts (at least fine arts as defined by early 60s standards). I'd hang any of his record album paintings over the fire place. Then again I'd hang an illustration of a woman loading up her laundry over my fire place if it was a great piece of art. :)

    Mike had that playboy/martini era style of painting down to a science.

  2. Nicely put, Les... I'm with you all the way, especially because a Ludlow woman loading up her laundry might be wearing only her "dainties" (rrowrr!)

    Now if only I had a fireplace...

  3. great illustrations, i love this painterly style, im trying to emulate but is difficult, cheers!!

  4. Thanks ihatedesign! I took a look at your gallery on deviantart and I think you're doing some excellent work - heading in the right direction.

    Keep at it!