Thursday, July 03, 2008

Austin Briggs: Master of the 'Awkward Moment'

A note arrives from Harold Henriksen, along with the first two scans below:

I thought of a particular Briggs illustration when I read a comment by Barbara Bradley Feb 27th. This is the part of the comment I meant.

"Fuchs pointed out something I’ve never forgotten about Briggs; that he was one of the first to select that natural moment between extremes of an action, often an almost awkward moment".

The Briggs illustration of the person sitting illustrates that comment for me.

The 'awkward moment'? What an intriguing notion.

Happily, many TI list members have been very generous in sharing Austin Briggs scans from their collections with me, so rounding up a few other examples took no effort.

Was Austin Briggs particularly adept at capturing 'that natural moment between extremes of an action' in his work? You be the judge.

* My thanks to Harold Henriksen, Brian Postman, Tom Watson and Michael Lark for providing material for today's post.

* My Austin Briggs Flickr set.


  1. these are beautiful,leif....3 of these illustrations i've never seen before,and i have a fairly large austin briggs tearsheet collection!,brian...

  2. Another set of great drawings, leif. Thanks.

    I'm not a big friend of Reader's Digest. But here and there there's an occasion to look into an old sample. There we find all those great illustrators, and that makes those vintage Digests so attractive for me, although sometimes hard to digest otherwise...

  3. It's interesting that the first two images are almost crude silhouettes with no line work, yet Briggs manages to make then extremely informative. Briggs was so damn subtle, it is always a pleasure to watch what he could accomplish with the simplest of marks. But it is that third image-- the man at his desk in a business suit-- that is the real doozy for me. Fabulous! Do you know what it is from?

  4. David....the illustration
    you mention is from an article called..."the elegant
    shopkeepers"...i don't know what magazine its
    from...probably "cosmopolitan" from the
    1960's...they are about 8 x 11 inches...i found them in walt reeds tearsheet collection in the early 90's.and he let me made sharp xeroxes of the for all the scans....i will e-mail them to,brian postman