Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Al Dorne, Professional Artist

Despite his very genuine, life-long appreciation for fine art, Al Dorne decided at an early age to become an illustrator. He explained that when he was young "the beautiful art books we have now which bring fine reproductions of paintings into the lives of millions of people did not exist. Anyone, however, could open up The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, or most magazines, and see the work of the best illustrators."

Dorne was pragmatic about his career choice:

"[Clients] want the very best you can give as an artist but it is equally important for you to give them what they need as advertisers. Commercial illustration - no matter how creatively artistic and skillful - is a business and you have to understand why you are being hired to do a given picture. The success of any picture - no matter how beautifully done - depends upon whether its function is realized."

"Commercial art is created to move goods or to communicate ideas. It is purely objective art used to convey the ideas of others. The painter, on the other hand, can afford to express subjectively his own feelings and his individual point of view."

"You accept his art as a thing that exists for itself. It has a life of its own. I deeply believe in the inherent right of the painter to paint what he wants to paint. However, the minute he takes on a specific commitment for money he has a responsibility to his patron."

"I have great respect for the painter who will work at unrelated jobs to support his family rather than compromise with his convictions and his art. But I firmly believe that the commercial artist must function to fulfill the requirements of the client."

Albert Dorne may seem like a man of contradictions. He professed to be passionate about art and drawing, yet he forthrightly admitted that he never kept a sketchbook, nor did he ever draw or paint for his own pleasure. "In the forty years I have been a professional artist," said Dorne, "I have poured all my creative needs into what I have done as an illustrator. Just let a client bring a problem and I am challenged to find the most creative and artistic way to solve it. I have often compromised my point of view to solve a communications problem - but I have never compromised my art itself. For good or bad, it was always the very best I could do as an artist."

For Albert Dorne, professionalism was everything -- and at its heart was a good attitude:

"I think a pro is a person who has tremendous respect for what he's doing and who never settles for anything less than the best of his capabilities. A real pro has a total devotion to what he does and a positive need to do it. He has an emotional and physical need to create and achieve the ultimate. He is a man of conviction who has a carefully nurtured image of perfect performance."

* My Albert Dorne Flickr set.


  1. incredible posts! I especially enjoyed the Rockwell story!

    Like many of the artists you post on the site Lefi, they need an authoritative book on their work!!

  2. It's interesting that he didn't keep a sketchbook or do personal work.