Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Paul Nonnast: The Quiet Professional

Paul Nonnast chose to become an illustrator because at just age 14 it was discovered that he had a heart condition. Nonnast thought he would find a 'quiet profession' in commercial art - only to discover that it could be "most hectic".

His career began immediately upon graduating from the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in 1940. Just seven years later he began receiving assignments from the Saturday Evening Post. At first, the Post made good use of the young artist's versatility with line art styles. Nonnast did many small spots like the ones shown here for short articles and 'specialty items' in the magazine's back pages.

By the early 50's, Nonnast was regularly painting a wide variety of genre fiction illustrations for the more high profile story section at the front of the magazine. He was also contributing to Cosmopolitan, Field & Stream, Argosy, Reader's Digest and others.

In another variation of style, the quiet professional enjoyed great success doing slick advertising art for the likes of Chevrolet, Bell Telephone, Armco, Dole, and United Airlines.

The talented Paul Nonnast, perhaps not as dynamic or high-profile as some others, is one of those too-often overlooked illustrators of the 50's. This week, let's try to correct that.

My Paul Nonnast Flickr set.

* Also - be sure to check out the latest CAWS on Charlie Allen's Blog


  1. Great post. Loving the 'Homicide Harbor' piece . The red shorts playing off the green water just makes the character pop.

  2. 'Homicide Harbor' is a great piece! The fishing net is such a strong directional and compositional element that draws your eye right to the dead body. Just brilliant!

  3. He also designed a WWII poster for the War Production Board in 1942 called "From Mine to Production Line," under the 'art direction' of Charles Coiner. Francis Brennan (fortune art editor), who was OWI graphics chief then, and who Coiner was consulting for. Brennan tried to get Nonnast to join OWI graphics. The next year Nonnast did a Container Corporation ad, also likely under Coiner's art direction. A couple google searches will pull up these 2 images up.