"I have info about Lucia for you..."
Those seven words sent an electric thrill through me when I read them in an email I received last year from an illustrator named Will Nelson. For several years I had been hoping to learn more about a wonderful but mysterious artist who's signature or story credit was always just the single name, "Lucia". Long time readers might recall this post from January of 2006, when I explained how Lucia's work had struck me from the moment I first laid eyes on it.
But finding even a scrap of information about Lucia proved to be impossible.
Then, in March of 2006, Will began relating to me his recollections of working as a young up-and-coming illustrator in the 1950's at the Chicago powerhouse art studio, Stephens, Biondi, DeCicco:
"When I came on board," wrote Will, "there were about ninety people in the organization. When I started right out of Art Center the head of the Los Angeles studio was Howie Forsberg, an illustrator, along with a staff which included Fritz Willis and Morgan"Joe"Henninger. It was in Chicago that I met Lucia (last name Lerner)."
Hearing all this from Will absolutely blew my mind! Up to this point I had not even realized that Lucia was a woman. Since commercial art was, relatively speaking, a "boys club" in the 50's, I had presumed that "Lucia" was a male artist's last name. But Will set me straight:
"Right...I said "she". Lucia... was a very classy lady in addition to being a talented illustrator. At a time when the profession was dominated by men Lucia more than held her own in the studio ranks."
"Lucia was the only female artist around that I know of. Maybe other cities? But in the SBD family she was queen and treated accordingly."
So began a long and rewarding correspondence with Will, who related not only his recollections about the mysterious Lucia, but also a wealth of invaluable first-hand information about one of Chicago's premier art studios of the day - Stephens, Biondi, DeCicco.
This week, you will learn what I have learned. This week, let's look at the the wonderful art of Lucia Lerner.
You'll find a dozen pieces by this tremendous illustrator in my Lucia Flickr set.