Monday, January 14, 2013

Joe Bowler: "I still have that need to be a craftsman."

In 1967 Don Holden wrote an article on illustrator Joe Bowler for American Artist magazine.


In his introduction Holden wrote, For the past decade, the pages of our national magazines - fiction, non-fiction, and advertising - have been dominated by photography, not by drawn or painted illustrations.

Holden quotes Joe Bowler: "The illustrators who've really made it can be counted on the fingers of two hands." and, Holden writes, Joe Bowler should know. He's one of the lucky few 'name illustrators' in an age of photography.


"Illustrators have always had endless bull sessions about how to keep up with the latest gimmicks of the few illustrators who've stayed at the top," says Bowler. "What could we think of next? What about the scribbly lines, the splashy acrylic washes with the bubbles, the elegant decorative stuff?"


"What's this art director going to buy next, or that one? It's been like a game of 'Can You Top This?' -- but I could never go along with the gimmicks just to look contemporary. I just wanted to stick to what I knew best."


"I always liked to paint people, and I've always been crazy about the old masters. I'd rather go to the Metropolitan Museum than anywhere else in the world. I guess I'm kind of a square; I still have that need to be a craftsman."


Bowler had more to say - much more. Forty five years later, Joe Bowler is still painting and still has plenty to say! Late last year I had the great pleasure of chatting on the phone with him for a couple of hours. Joe regaled me with interesting and amusing stories... and more than a few words of wisdom.


This week I'd like to share that conversation - and some stunning examples of Joe's work - with you.

The Joe Bowler interview begins tomorrow.

* to see recent works by the artist, visit Joe Bowler's website


  1. great choice, Leif, and I hope that there is more to come.

  2. Hooray! JB is a fave of mine, one of those great gouache guys who tore it up from the early days of his career...good choice, Leif!

  3. Bring it on! So glad that you've been able to interview him!