Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walter Wyles: Across the Pond

Guest author: Bryn Havord

By the mid-’60s Bernie Fuchs, Herb Tauss and Lynn Buckham had replaced the earlier American stars, with Bernie Fuchs rapidly becoming the man to watch and emulate, but there was still plenty of work for the best of the English illustrators. At this time there were two English illustrators, Ken Dallison and Wilson McLean living and working in New York City, but Walter Wyles became the first English illustrator living and working in England to be commissioned to produce a painting for an American magazine when Bill Cadge, the art director of Redbook, asked him to illustrate a story.

Unfortunately that Redbook illustration was not to be found at this time, but Leif found a series of Wally's illustrations from the same period done for Reader's Digest Condensed Books.

Wyles had no direct dealings with Readers' Digest in the USA, it was all done through their London office: they contacted him. He can't remember what the fees were, certainly no way near as much as the American fees. He thinks it was around £150.00 per spread or illustration.

At that time there were US$2.40 to £1.00 Sterling. He was paid $1,250.00 for the Redbook illustration which was one page and not a spread. He retained the copyright and only sold them first rights.

We can't remember how work was sent back and forth across the pond before FedEx. Wally relied upon his agent who is long since dead, so we can't ask him.

Wally supplied the London office with roughs and was given about a month to complete the work once the roughs had been approved. He remembers one other job for American RD, although he did a fair number for the UK Readers' Digest.

In 1964, Wyles felt the need to return to his native Kent and he bought a neo-Georgian house at Birchington, near the north Kentish coast. However, in 1967 after furnishing the house with Georgian furniture and completing all the re-decoration, his wife Maggie found a derelict Jacobean farmhouse in a secluded setting four miles from Canterbury, which they decided to renovate and make their future and permanent home.

By the end of the ’60s the downturn in the American women’s magazine illustration market started to be reflected in England, as the interest in romantic fiction in women’s magazines declined. Wyles had built up a substantial following in the book jacket market,

... and with Scandinavian women’s magazines, and he had plenty of work well into the 1970s.

His sale of second rights material also continued to hold up well.

* In the late 50s and early 60s guest author Bryn Havord was assistant art director of Woman magazine. From 1963 to 1965 he was associate editor and art director of Woman's Mirror; both of which were published in the UK. During that time he commissioned work from all the leading British Illustrators including Walter Wyles, Eric Ernshaw, Michael Johnson and Gerry Fancett. Walter Wyles remains his oldest and closest friend.

* My Walter Wyles Flickr set.

*ALSO* Be sure to visit Storyboard Central and Drawn! today for exciting news and some great artwork by TI list member Harry Borgman

1 comment:

  1. Leif, Thanks for posting so much of his work! Lotta great stuff I've not seen before.