Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don Silverstein: "A wild character"

A few months ago, Harry Borgman was the subject of a week of posts on Today's Inspiration (see Previous Topics in the sidebar). During our long correspondence, Harry would often mention an old friend and fellow Detroit illustrator, Don Silverstein. "He was a wild character," Harry wrote to me, "a huge talent. I can't understand why he didn't become more famous."

I suggested that perhaps Harry would consider sharing his memories of those days with us. So this week Harry is our guest author, providing all of the artwork and the story of his longtime friend, Don Silverstein. Harry's narrative begin below:

Don Silverstein was a character and a half. From the first time I met him, I knew that he was a true original, a maverick that hardly fit into Detroit's hard boiled automotive oriented art industry. Believe me, there was no lack of wild characters in the Detroit art scene at the time, but Don stood out among them.

Don could only have been an artist, never a lawyer, account man, store owner or car salesman. He was anything but normal!

Cliff Roberts and I had been working at Allied Artists for a couple of years and on one morning when we arrived at the studio we found this new kid sitting at a drawing board doing all this great, wild stuff. It was Don Silverstein... he was 17 years old.

Like Cliff and I, he began doing many art assignments for Ford Times magazine. This was 1949.

It was great working in this environment at Allied artists. Talent like Cliff Roberts and Don Silverstein kept me on my toes and encouraged me to experiment and do my very best. It worked that way for all of us.

In my eyes it was obvious that Don was a remarkable talent right from the start. His wild creations seemed quite out of place in Detroit's booming automotive art world. Yet somehow, Don managed to keep busy and had a pretty decent career.

You'll find more examples of Don Silverstein's work at his website and Gallery Sakiko.

My Don Silverstein Flickr set.


  1. Leif, these first-hand recollections are priceless. I've really enjoyed your recent series about Detroit and Cooper Studios. It's easy to forget what it was like for a lot of the great illustrators to work under the same roof and inspire each other.

    In future, it would be great to learn more about the Westport community and the EC Comics gang.

  2. The guy's among the best.

  3. Looks like the link to GallerySakiko is broken. try
    here for the gallery or
    here for Don's specific section.