Monday, May 19, 2008

Charlie Allen in Black and White

Last September we spent a week looking at Charlie Allen's career. Since then, much to my delight, Charlie has continued to share many additional scans of his work with me (usually grouped around a specific theme) and he and I have had an ongoing correspondence about these pieces.

Recently, Charlie sent a raft of scans based around the theme of 'black and white illustration'. "This week may hound you with some B&W's," wrote Charlie, "something I enjoyed as much, if not more, than color....and there was more of it out here."

Charlie explained that due to smaller budgets and more limited printing options (almost all magazine publishing was located back east, for instance) much of the artwork done by illustrators in the San Franscisco market was black and white, and often line art instead of painting.

Charlie writes, "I welcomed change and different clients and agencies. First Pan Am ad [above] was in the '50s, the models were my wife and oldest daughter. Second Pan Am [below] were hired models and a fictitious Hawaiian restaurant. I did so many travel ads, lots about Hawaii...mainly, I think, because I was less expensive than sending an illustrator or photographer over there!"

Some of the famous illustrators we've looked at in recent weeks enjoyed a sort of celebrity status in their day, but its tremendously talented but less well known artists like Charlie who's work I find equally inspiring - and deserving of recognition. This week, we're fortunate to be able to take a look at "the black and white world of Charlie Allen", with accompanying commentary by the artist himself.

My Charlie Allen Flickr set.


  1. Can't get enough examples of Charile's illustrations. It's really nice to get the back stories behind the work.
    I'm looking forward to this weeks blog.
    Bruce Hettema

  2. Looking forward to it as well---terrific of Charlie to do so...

  3. Another master here!
    Black and White somehow draws my attention and enhances my admiration for the tonal values of the Hawaii picture and for those negative shapes in that office.

    By the way - now I know the difference between a Douglas DC 6 and a DC 7...