Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Lowell Hess (1921 - )

Lowell Hess attended the University of Oklahoma and was working toward completing a four year program in art, but WWII was in progress and Uncle Sam had other plans for the young artist. Hess never got to finish his degree. After his induction he served mainly stateside, but was shipped overseas near the end of the war. "We were among the last to go," says Hess.

Six months later he was back in America and attending Pratt in Brooklyn. He spent a year studying there before working in a small studio for six months, then trying his hand at freelance illustration. "It wasn't easy to find work."

Hess signed with an artist's representative and began getting assignments from major magazines. "Argosy, Collier's, Bluebook, American, Coronet, Boy's Life," he rhymes off the names, "but not the Post. I never cracked the Post."

Did you ever try going up there, I ask. "No, no... it was understood that if you worked for one, you didn't try to work for the other," he says. "I worked for the Collier group of magazines."

He moved to Connecticut and worked from home. I asked him if he had had artist friends to socialize with, remembering the famous artist's colony in Westport in those days. "No." says Hess, "That was my biggest regret about working with the rep. You end up working in isolation and they make all the contacts."

Today, Hess enjoys a weekly get-together with several local cartoonists, including Bob Weber Jr., the creator of Moose & Molly for the King features Syndicate.


  1. This is great stuff, Leif. It's very exciting to read about how artists and illustrators got their start in the biz. And it's good to see that he's still doing a weekly thing, to keep up his skills. Very very cool.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  2. Hi Leif -- Just this day I was just up at that Chinese restaurant where Mr. Hess, Bob Weber, Frank McLaughlin, Ron Goulart, Orlando Busino and others routinely get together for some lunch and shop talk. The funny thing about all these pros is how they praise each others work. This is done sincerely. But all of them agreed that Hess was in a class by himself. "Have you met Lowell Hess?" asked Frank McLaughlin. I had not, but I had heard the name. "Oh, you have to meet Lowell Hess. He's an amazing illustrator!"

    I shared a few words with Mr. Hess, since he was at the far end of the table. He's been carving -- doing wood carving. Last week he brought photos in of those carvings. Everyone was still raving about them.

    Darn it! I missed the photos!

    OK, I know next time I'll sit nearer, and insist on some old war stories from the Collier's days.

    Thanks for posting this, Leif. It was my introduction to his art.