Friday, March 21, 2008

NCS Luminaries: Al Dorne

"My formal education got me as far as the seventh grade in elementary school," Albert Dorne says in Ashley Halsey Jr.'s book, Illustrating for the Saturday Evening Post.

"After which,"
Dorne continues, "I immediately became a high-powered business executive."

Albert Dorne was not only the 1947 president of the Society of Illustrators, he was also a member of the National Cartoonists Society.

His biographical 'sketch' on the NCS website reads in part, "In 1930 I started one of the first advertising strips - Lifebouy's B.O. campaign - turning out three or four a week. I created 'Mr. Coffee Nerves' for Postum and did advertising strips for Post cereals, Camels, and many others."

For those of us who are sometimes overwhelmed by our inner artiste's yearning to get out and express himself, consider these words from Albert Dorne, one of the most prolific, successful and famous illustrators of the 20th century:

"Very early in what I like to refer to as my artistic career, I built up an immunity to complicated techniques that call for (a) reading a lot, (b) experimentation, (c) making a mess of the job because I couldn't handle the medium, and (d) having to do the whole thing over."

"All of this may sound like an attempt to excuse my lack of technical knowledge. It is."

"As far as art is concerned," says the man Halsey, Jr. describes as "a hefty, extrovert, cigar-smoking business man", "I have no training whatsoever. As a matter of fact, the very first time I ever saw an art classroom was when I went into one to deliver a lecture on how to be an artist."

My Albert Dorne Flickr set.


  1. What Dorne doesn't say here is that even before he quit school in the 7th grade, he went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art every day and drew every piece of art he could see. I suppose that is an art classroom of a different sort!

    Thanks for posting Dorne, Leif. He doesn't get enough attention these days.

  2. Al Dorne did have wonderful drawing ability, good composition,and a painting technique of his own. I enjoy seeing the way he animated the figures he drew.

  3. That truly is the art classroom of a dirt-poor depression era kid growing up in Hell's Kitchen. Dorne's story never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

    Thanks for your comments, gents! :-)

  4. Dorne's demonstration of drawing hands in the Famous Artists Course still sets the gold standard. He may not have been a philosopher, but he sure could deliver, and his work was a huge inspiration for all the EC Comics and Mad Magazine artists that followed after.

  5. You know, Jim, I actually do think Dorne was a philosopher in his own right - a very pragmatic one, as a result of having come up so successfully through the "School of Hard Knocks".

    And you are so right about his demonstration of drawing hands in the Famous Artists Course... I had always thought Bridgeman's hand lessons were the tops - until I saw Dorne's. Of course Bridgman "wrote the book" on hands... but Dorne's lessons humanize them.