Sometimes it seems like every illustrator of the mid-20th century must have worked in New York, Chicago, Detroit or San Francisco/L.A.
That's because we've come to know so many of them by seeing their credit lines and signatures on illustrations in magazines or on books, catalogues and posters published in those major centres. But as long-time readers will already know, there were countless talented artists working in smaller towns and cities all over North America, enjoying successful careers as professional illustrators. One such artist was Steven G. Dobson of Downers Grove, Illinois.
I first read about Steven Dobson in the Spring 1957 issue of Famous Artists magazine, which showcased him as a successful alumnus of the Famous Artists course.
By coincidence, I'd come across an ad Steven Dobson illustrated in one of the mid-1950s issues of the Saturday Evening Post in my collection. Dobson's illustration had stuck in my mind, so when I saw the ad reproduced at thumbnail size in FA magazine, I was pleased to be able to go back and connect the two.
Next came some online detective work. Much to my delight, I managed to locate Dobson's daughter, Katie Dobson Cundiff, who is a remarkably talented artist in her own right.
On her website Katie wrote, "I acquired an early appreciation for the fine arts, drawing, and painting, under the tutelage of artist parents." And when we began corresponding, she told me, "My parents met while attending the Chicago Academy of Art in the early '40's. My mom also taught for awhile and later became a display artist for Marshall Fields & Co."
My correspondence with Katie is just getting started, so I hope to bring you more news about her parents in a future post. As I said, not every illustrator of the mid-20th century was a "famous artist" - but that doesn't mean they didn't leave behind a legacy of admirable work.
And what could be more gratifying than to have inspired a talented daughter to pursue her own artistic ambitions? No fame could be more impressive.