Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wow Factor: Austin Briggs

Any artwork by Austin Briggs is going to be impressive, but this illustration Briggs did for the January 14th, 1961 issue of the Saturday Evening Post really made me stop and say, "Wow!"

No wonder Walt Reed used it as one of his examples for Briggs' listing in The Illustrator in America.

Briggs uses the intensley swirling patterning in the carpet to great effect. Notice how he chose to have no cast shadows under any of the elements sitting on that carpet?
By contrast, the murdered girl, the focal point of the picture, is rendered in light and shade with great attention to detail.

The flattening effect, as well as the unusual camera angle, creates tremendous visual excitement for the eye and the brain to analyze.

My Austin Briggs Flickr set.


  1. this was a great piece leif...i used to own it....unfortunately, i don't any more...it's great to see it in print again though...

  2. I noticed that you had a credit line in Walt Reed's book under this piece, Brian... sorry to hear you no longer own such an incredible piece!

  3. Wow, those 1960s colors give me a headache. I didn't realize they had invented the chemicals that would make such colors until Bob Peak came along a few years later. (I think they had to mine the pigments from the planet Fargoozonga).

    I'm glad that in 1961 they still had enough decorum to make sure the murder victim's collar was all the way buttoned up around that knife. Murder is one thing, but exposed cleavage would be intolerable.

  4. Great piece! Thanks for sharing it, Leif. Briggs was a real experimenter, and his master course for the Famous Artist Course is one of the most thoughtful about the art of illustration.

  5. She looks at us, telling us:

    "Hey man - I'm supposed to be dead"

    Thanks for ferreting out all this stuff for us, Leif.

  6. Interesting point David makes. I never illustrated a murder scene in the 60's, but prior to the social revolution (experiment), provocative sexual attraction in most magazine illustrations, could be simply the position of her body, the seductive curves of the contour of her body, an exposed thigh or exposing long silky legs. IMO there was often a somewhat blurry line between the pinup calendar female and the female in the magazine illustrations at that time.

    As Leif has pointed out in the past, some A.D's. were more daring than others, also depending on the targeted audience.

    I would imagine that showing cleavage and blood were all considered in the mix. I like the illustration very much as it is.

    Tom Watson

  7. Austin Briggs, the comic artist?

  8. Hah... almost no one here would think of him as the 'comic artist', - but yes, you're absolutely correct, roberval!

  9. No problem, Leif. I'm a cartoonist too. By the way, soberb blog that you have.

  10. Do you know how to get hold of the representation of Austin Briggs for rights of reproduction ?

    Thank you