* If you already ready this post, take a second look - there's an important addendum further down!
Long time readers may remember this dramatic piece from our week on "illustrating water" back in 2006.
Its hard to believe that the charming image below could be by the same artist - but yes, they are both by an illustrator named Thomas Shoemaker.
The scan above of the original art for a 1956 Merrill colouring book is courtesy of graphiccollectibles.com
Here are a couple of pieces from the early '50s by Shoemaker, from The American magazine. Coincidentally they are from the same issues in which Walter Baumhofer had work.
I often wonder how an illustrator of Shoemaker's obvious talents could have had so little credited work in the major magazines. He must have focused his efforts on advertising art - lucrative work that was often done anonymously.
Here's the only other piece I've ever found by Shoemaker; the cover of Elks magazine, from 1960.
I wish I could tell you more... unfortunately Thomas Shoemaker is one of those many talented mid-century artists who has left behind almost no trace of his career.
Addendum: Much to my surprise, I actually have quite a bit more info on Tom Shoemaker, and its thanks to our friend, Harry Borgman, who wrote to me shortly after this post appeared:
"I read your post on Tom Shoemaker, I knew him fairly well, he came to Detroit sometime in the 1950's and worked for Friedrich, Frisbie & Cox and also Art Group."
"He was a great illustrator and a fantastic person, a really great guy. He went back to Westport, not sure when, and had a terrible accident which killed him. He pulled his car up to his garage and accidently left it in gear. when he was opening the garage door his car ran into him."
"One of my best friends, Tom Clarke, an art director, was a good buddy of Tom's and saw a lot of him, I could see if he happens to have any of Tom's work, or knows more about him. Attached is a piece that I found, it's an illo done in 1960 for GM's Hyatt Bearing Division, agency: D. P. Brother, Art Director: Nick Hornbacher, who later became an award winning Detroit photographer."
And then yesterday, Harry sent a second note with even more revelations about Shoemaker:
"Hi Leif, Tonight I spoke with Tom Clarke who was a good friend of Tom Shoemaker, they took the train into NY every day from Westport. Shoemaker was working at one of the studios there but Clarke was not sure which one, this was in the early 70's. Shoemaker also used to work with either Leonard Starr or Stan Drake on their comic strips. Tom Clarke does not have any reproductions of Shoemaker's work. As an interesting side note, Shoemaker was dating Betty Davis at the time and Tom Clarke was dating a famous French actress, Corinne Calvet."
"Shoemaker was a popular guy, I'm sure that other readers of TI will be able to add more info for you." Harry
Many thanks to Harry Borgman for doing all this excellent detective work to fill in some of the blanks on Tom Shoemaker's career!
Addendum 2: To follow up on Harry Borgman's info on Tom Shoemaker I contacted Thomas Sawyer, who knew Stan Drake very well and is friends with Leonard Starr. Tom sent back the following info from Leonard:
"All I know about Tom Shoemaker I got from Stan but I never met him. He went to Spain as Stan's assistant during Stan's year and a half stay there which suggests that his career wasn't thriving. I saw some of the backgrounds he did and they were good, illustrative rather than cartoonish. His end was a horror story. Getting out of his car at a mall he neglected to put the car in PARK. Seeing it was starting to roll, he tried to jump back into the driver's seat, one arm outside of the car somehow causing the arm to be sheared off by a utility pole. By the time medical help arrived he'd lost too much blood to be saved. His daughter Kim used to come around the studio from time to time, Stan had used her as a model. Sweet girl. If she could be located she might be able to provide some more - L."
Many thanks to both Tom and Leonard. Its a shame to discover Tom Shoemaker had such an untimely and tragic death, but at least now we have a more thorough documentation about the artist than I could have ever imagined.
*Original art dealer Mitch Itkowitz has a new catalogue of original Merrill cover paintings available from his website, graphiccollectibles.com There are also about twenty images from the catalogue on the website.
* Many thanks to Jean Woodcock and to Mitch for the scan near the top of today's post.
* My Tom Shoemaker Flickr set.