Friday, September 28, 2012

Is It Time for a Textbook?

By guest author Jaleen Grove

As we all know, there is no illustration history textbook. Lots of instructors keep re-inventing the wheel, and because it's so much work to cover such a vast field, I fear they miss great swathes of research. There have been people threatening to write one... but there has been little public input on content, scope, format, and tone. So why not ask around? OK then!

History of Illustration Textbook Mockup

Whitney Sherman (teaches at MICA) and I have finally got a survey off the ground.... I'm not writing a textbook by the way - I merely initiated this as a piece of community service. The NY Society of Illustrators is sponsoring it, and the data will stay with them to be shared for anyone who wants it for educational purposes.

I'd like to invite everyone - illustrators, students, teachers, scholar, collectors - to speak up and help determine the look and feel of how our field should be taught and represented.

Just click the link below to get started:

* "Art on my textbook cover mock-up, CW from top left: J.C. Leyendecker, Albert Dorne, Rob't McGinnis, Norman Rockwell, Robert Fawcett and N.C. Wyeth - all images can be found in my Flickr archives." ~ Leif

Thursday, September 27, 2012

illustrators Magazine: Previewing Issue #4

Guest author Peter Richardson concludes this week's series describing how the newly launched illustrators, a quarterly magazine celebrating the greatest UK and European illustration of the past 150 years, came to be.

David Ashford is our other consultant editor, and although he may be less familiar to followers of Today’s Inspiration, he is nonetheless as passionate about illustration, and is doggedly determined in his researches as David Roach. David Ashford penned the feature on the life and art of UK ‘hard-boiled- artist’; Denis McLoughlin, which leads off our first issue.


It is a truly compelling read, and an embodiment of our intent with illustrators, that writers should invest their features with real insight, putting the reader in touch with both the personality of the artist, as well as the quality of their artwork. David’s love of illustration brought him into contact with many of the editors and artists whose work he had followed and as a consequence, he is able to bring his subjects to life in a way that trawling through Google can never achieve. This is particularly apparent in David’s feature on Denis McLoughlin, who he befriended over many years, and is the subject of his recently published biography; The Art of Denis McLoughlin.


We also have the advantage of access to some truly stunning pieces of original artwork, which are providing us with scans, which reveal every subtle nuance and accent of an artist’s brushwork. We have had an enormous amount of enthusiastic assistance from galleries and collectors, who have provided us with some fabulous material which we can now share with an audience, way beyond the privileged few who have hitherto been privy to exclusively seeing these artworks in their raw beauty.


Issue 4 of illustrators, is also starting to shape up very nicely; we have a lead feature by Bryn Havord on the work of Michael Johnson, whose fabulous work epitomised the “Swinging Sixties”, and who was featured by Today’s Inspiration for a week which started on Monday, June 04, 2012.


We are also taking a look at the work of gentleman illustrator Derek Eyles whose passion for building and sailing model boats was often at variance with his editor’s desire to maximise his hours at the drawing board as he brought to life scenes from the Wild West in his artwork for such publications as Kit Carson’s Cowboy Annual and Chums magazine.


For future issues of illustrators we have features on Brian Sanders...


... Walter Wyles...


... Mick Brownfield...


... Chris McEwan...


... and illustrators agents such as Bardon Artists and Artist Partners lined up. So there is plenty more in store for our readers and we hope you will join us for the journey—it should prove to be eventful and illuminating.

You can order illustrators magazine at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

illustrators Magazine: Previewing Issue #3

Guest author Peter Richardson continues this week's series describing how the newly launched illustrators, a quarterly magazine celebrating the greatest UK and European illustration of the past 150 years, came to be.

The third issue of illustrators looks at the life and art of Fortunino Matania.


In addition to being a supremely talented and driven artist, he was blessed with a photographic memory, and this was to prove a crucial asset in an era when reportage illustration was at its peak.


But Matania’s work was broader in its scope than reportage and his fascination with antiquity manifested itself in his ability to present historical events as if they were happening before your very eyes.


There is also a long overdue feature on Andy Virgil, who was such a powerful talent in editorial and advertising illustration, his sense of design, manipulation of light and color and his ability to create some of the most stylish and inventive layouts has never been bettered.


We also take a look at the work of Peter Maddocks, who was one of Fleet Street’s most inventive cartoonists. Bryn Havord, who has known Peter for over fifty years, describes the creation of the cult daily newspaper strip cartoon Four D. Jones, which ran for ten years.


The eponymous Jones, who was the incompetent sheriff of Buzzards Creek in America, had a hoop, which he stepped through to visit the fourth dimension. Bryn also shows us some of Peter’s other work, which has been created over the past sixty years.


David Roach, another Today’s Inspiration guest author, is also one of our consultant editors and has written several superb features for us.

David is well known to UK and US audiences, for his passionate and revelatory researches into UK and European illustration, and his knowledge of these genres is in a league of it’s own. He has written several books, including The Warren Companion with John B Cooke as well as The Art of War and its successor; Aarrgghh! It’s War, which looked at the work of the Spanish and Italian artists whose work graced so many of the UK war pocket libraries throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was the man who, in a manner not unlike Professor Howard Carter discovering the tomb of Tutankhamun, unearthed a warehouse full of these artworks, which had long been presumed lost. David has written a really captivating feature on this amazing story in one of our upcoming issues.

You can order illustrators magazine at

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

illustrators Magazine: Previewing Issue #2

Guest author Peter Richardson continues this week's series describing how the newly launched illustrators, a quarterly magazine celebrating the greatest UK and European illustration of the past 150 years, came to be.

The first task was to come up with a design format and a logo or masthead which would encapsulate our spirit and intent.


We eventually refined what we felt was a memorable and eye-catching logo, whilst embodying the clean, authoritative, and inviting layouts that should be an integral part of the reading experience. We are committed to the principle that if the reader is distracted by too busy and self-important page designs, then they are not going to be in thrall to the artwork and accompanying text. This for all the team is an absolute priority.


Speaking of the team, we are really privileged to have an incredibly talented and motivated group of artists and writers, working as part of our editorial staff. A couple of them will already be familiar to followers of Today’s Inspiration. Our associate editor Bryn Havord was an award-winning art director in the 1960s and 1970s, who helped revolutionize the look of periodicals during those heady days. He started doing general studio work on Eagle comic and within a few years was art director and associate editor at Woman’s Mirror, commissioning the likes of Michael Johnson, Walter Wyles, and Renato Fratini, to create truly amazing double page spreads which were seen by millions of readers, and helped to define the look of the era.

(Below; a spread from issue two's feature on Renato Fratini. On the left page, the first commission that Bryn Havord gave Fratini when Bryn was working as art editor at Woman's Mirror.)Illustrators13

Aside from his terrific editorial input into each issue, Bryn has remained in contact with some of these artists, and has a wealth of insights and stories to tell about the way they worked. We have features by Bryn on Michael Johnson, Walter Wyles, Brian Sanders, and the cartoonist Peter Maddocks which will be appearing in future issues.

In the second issue of illustrators, we takes an in depth look at the work of David Wright, whose work graces the top of this post. In addition to being the creator of the largely forgotten but exquisite Carol Day strip, Wright was also a painter and illustrator of glamorous women who exuded style and hauteur in an era when such qualities were at a premium.


Our next feature is a look at the life and art of Cecil Doughty, whose historical illustrations graced many a children's periodical over a career spanning over half a century.


Other features include a look at the animal artistry of Raymond Sheppard...


... and David Roach takes a look at the outstanding work of Renato Fratini...


... as well as a piece by John Watkiss, describing how he goes about creating concept art for The Walking Dead.


You can order illustrators magazine at

Monday, September 24, 2012

Introducing: illustrators Magazine

Guest author Peter Richardson invites us to look at some pages of the newly launched illustrators, a quarterly magazine celebrating the greatest UK and European illustration of the past 150 years.

Illustrators01(Above: The cover of the first issue of illustrators - out now folks!)

The publication has been a long time in reaching fruition: the idea stemmed from a series of discussions I had with publisher Geoff West, the owner of Book Palace Books. I had produced a couple of art books with Geoff, which had been very well received, and we were brain-storming somewhat along the lines of, “wouldn’t it be great if we had the time and resources to produce great art books on all the illustrators we love”. We didn't have the time or resources to produce additional specialist books about individual illustrators, which is how the idea for the magazine originated.

Illustrators02(Above: A spread from our lead feature on the incredible ‘art noir’ illustration of Denis McLoughlin, which was penned by his friend and biographer David Ashford.)

We decided to produce a quality magazine, featuring four or five illustrators an issue, with the memories and stories of the artists, and how their work came into being, during what was the start of, and latterly, a renaissance for the printed image. Our intention is that the magazine should become the most comprehensive reference work on the world's greatest illustrators. It was Geoff who suggested a quarterly publication as being a really effective way to circumvent some of the hurdles, and very importantly, allowing us to share artist’s work which probably would never be examined in any other format.


We had seen what Dan Zimmer had achieved in his excellent Illustration quarterly, and knew that we could achieve similar results with our publication, which, in contrast to Dan’s, focuses on work from Europe and the UK. So we have a clearly defined editorial mission statement: To feature the greatest UK and European illustration of the last 150 years, as well as the occasional article showing some of the best of American illustration.


Our first issue leads with a feature on the work of Denis McLoughlin - whose illustrations you've been enjoying so far in this post. McLoughlin was one of the UK’s greatest purveyors of ‘noir-style’ book jackets. His work, in it’s handling of lighting and cityscapes, is reminiscent of Edward Hopper, but in addition, he was a consummate designer, whose dedication to his craft was such that he treated the lettering of all his covers as an integral part of the image, and as such his work retained a unity of purpose that none of his contemporaries could hope to achieve.


We also look at the work of Ian Kennedy, one of the UK’s foremost boy’s fiction cover artists.


Kennedy's love of aeronautics has informed so much of the work he has produced over the last sixty years.

Illustrators07(Wherever possible we try and access high quality scans of original artwork as this example above of a wrap around Commando cover by Kennedy demonstrates.)

We also have a feature article by David Roach on the fabulous 1960s romance art of Spanish illustrator Angel Badia Camps...

Illustrators08(Badia Camps was one of a group of incredibly talented Spanish artists, whose work was regularly featured in UK and US magazines throughout the 1960s and 1970s.)

... and going further back to the dawn of the last century, we look at the delightfully coy eroticism of the Parisian illustrator Cheri Herouard.


Bringing us back to the here and now, one of the UK’s highest profile illustrators; Mick Brownfield shares some studio secrets, when he reveals how he set about creating one of his most memorable Christmas covers for Radio Times covers.


Our first issue is now on sale, and I am pleased to say that the response has been far more positive than even our most optimistic projections had allowed for. However, we are by no means complacent: it is our intention that each issue of illustrators should be strong, distinctive and memorable, so that the reader’s’ expectations are not only met, but exceeded. To this end, we are trying to avoid the pitfalls of becoming too closely identified with any particular genre of illustration, and hopefully this will become apparent as illustrators gets into it’s stride.

You can order illustrators magazine at

Friday, September 21, 2012

George Hughes (1907-1990)

George Hughes was born in New York. He studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design. Early in his professional career he moved to Detroit to work as a "special designer," (whatever that might be). By the early '40s he'd returned to New York and joined the Charles E. Cooper studio. This 1945 advertising illustration below was likely done during his stint at Cooper's.


Only a few years later, Hughes was being represented by American Artists. Based on some of the names seen in this 1951 AA ad, he was in extremely good company.


It was common among ambitious illustrators of those days to submit cover sketches for consideration by the editors of the Saturday Evening Post. At that time, no assignment could have been more prestigious than to illustrate the cover of America's most popular, most widely circulated magazine. Hughes made many sketches before submitting the one that landed him his first cover assignment (below).


"The finished job was sent back for just one correction," said Hughes. "The editors asked me to 'clean up the boy a bit since he isn't old enough to get that dirty.' Actually, he was fully that dirty," said Hughes, who had posed his young neighbour as the grimy kid. "But I pleased both the editors and his mother by cleaning him up a little."

The public response to the illustration was so spectacular that it must have convinced the Post's editors to make George Hughes one of their regular cover artists. He went on to paint over a hundred Post covers in the following years.


Hughes, like fellow Post cover artist Dick Sargent, was one of the originators of the 'sitcom magazine cover,' as Walt Reed describes it in his biography of George Hughes in "The Illustrator in America." As a result of these cover scenarios, wrote Walt Reed, "readers would spend minutes rather than seconds looking at the covers."


Hughes not only painted covers for the Post, but was a frequent contributor of interior illustrations - usually of a similar light, humorous nature. Often an issue that sports a George Hughes cover will have an interior spread by the artist as well.


Considering the generous compensation illustrators received for high profile work like this, it's no wonder Hughes "sails much of the summer. By early fall, he returns to retouching his studio full of duck decoys in preparation for the gunning season. Only in winter does he occasionally forsake water sports - for skiing."


But there was more to George Hughes than comedic Saturday Evening Post illustrations. Some of my favourite of his pieces have a darker tone.


Unencumbered by his sometimes obvious adherence to his photo reference, here you see Hughes' showing us his true, personal style.


It's a style I find much more compelling than his typical (and probably more popular) work.


Almost all the work you'll find by George Hughes is full colour painted illustration. Here's a rare example of his black and white pencil technique...


... and another that looks like it was done on a textured board, perhaps with chalk or crayon.


Hughes could also do romance story illustrations with the best of them - but rarely did. I think he did a great job on this one, from Good Housekeeping magazine, 1950.


From my research, George Hughes stayed with his reps at American Artists for the duration of the 1950s. As story illustration assignments began to wane, AA managed to land Hughes what must have been a lucrative advertising account for Kraft. Here are two from a series of ads Hughes illustrated in 1960 - a time when most magazine ads were using photography.


I find these so interesting because Hughes is working here in a more or less realistic style. Why Kraft chose to have these ads illustrated is beyond me (though I think Hughes did a great job on them).


Walt Reed tells us that George Hughes moved on to become a portrait artist after the decline of the illustration market. As a painter he exhibited his work at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, The Detroit Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

George Hughes died in 1990.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

John McClelland (1919 - )

John McClelland was a mid-century illustrator whose work is perhaps somewhat less well known. But wonderful nonetheless!


McClelland was born in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1919. He began his education at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and finished it at the Art Career School of New York. His illustration work first appeared in Collier's in 1947.


This work above and below, from various 1951 and 1952 issues of Woman's Day magazine, is representative of McClelland's experimentation with style and technique during the early period of his professional career.



Below, a series of illustrations from Cosmopolitan magazine from 1953 by John McClelland.


Once again, we see McClelland trying something a little different.


While none of what McClelland was attempting could be called wildly experimental...


... it still seems like he was not interested in settling for one way of doing things, as many other artists who found their comfort zone typically did.


Then, in August 1958, John McClelland did something dramatic!


What could have compelled John McClelland to transform himself with such a radical stylistic departure?


Was it a restless spirit? was it the encouragement of Cosmo's forward-thinking AD, Robert C. Atherton?


Or did McClelland, like so many other illustrators of the 1950s, sense that the more literal, realistic, painterly illustration styles were falling out of favour among magazine clients?


Whatever it was, for the next several years, John McClelland infused his work with a distinctly more graphic approach.


If this new direction was successful for the artist, I cannot say. I have too few examples of McClelland's work to get a good grasp on what his circumstances were at the time.


Walt Reed's book, The Illustrator in America, includes John McClelland's biography. Walt writes that McClelland went on to great success as a portrait artist. Later in his career he returned to his native Georgia - settling in Savannah - where he co-founded the Landings Art Association.

In the 1980s, McClelland won several awards for his paintings reproduced on collector's plates. He was still actively working around the year 2000, conducting occasional workshops and participating in regional exhibitions. I was not able to find any more recent information on the artist.