After spending a week on Lynn Buckham, you might think it odd when I say that Murray Tinkelman is the perfect choice as our next subject. But actually, the two have an important connection - and their careers intersect at a crucial turning point in the history of illustration.
The connection is this: both artists were represented by the Charles E. Cooper studio. And the intersection of their careers is this: In 1958, when Lynn Buckham was enjoying immense popularity with top clients like The Saturday Evening Post, he probably had no idea his days as a magazine illustrator were numbered. Meanwhile, Murray Tinkelman's were just beginning. Buckham's style of literal narrative illustration may still have been the popular look of the mainstream in the late 50's, but photography would soon grab the lion's share of a shrinking market for magazine and advertising art.
Looking back on those days, Murray Tinkelman told an interviewer in 1970, "... the role of the illustrator is changing from a descriptive one to an interpretive one. The illustration used to be redundant, really, because it was all taken directly from the text. Nowadays the artist helps tell the story, rather than just echoing the author's words."
Murray joined the Cooper Studio in 1958. "The salesmen," says Murray, "the first two years, never had any confidence that my stuff was salable. It was infuriating."
In spite of the hurdles ( Murray made only $1,800 that first year at Cooper's ) he was gaining something more valuable than money: "I was very young, and my relationship with (Coby) Whitmore, (Joe) Bowler, (Joe) DeMers, and Lorraine Fox and Bernie D'Andrea... being mentored by those wonderful narrative illustrators... meant the world to me."
"My proclivity was in a much more decorative style."
Cooper's salesmen may not have known what to make of Murray Tinkelman, but Chuck Cooper himself must have had a sense that times were changing. Perhaps that's why he decided to take a chance on the kid with the oddball style who had wandered in for an interview from his dead-end job at a third-rate greeting card company. At the time not even Murray could have anticipated what he would accomplish.
But this colour-blind kid from a poor part of town was going to surprise everyone. This week we'll find out how.
* My Murray Tinkelman Flickr set.