Friday, March 30, 2007

Frank Soltesz - Man or Superman?

If I told you about someone who could look down on the earth from a great height, who could see through walls with x-ray vision and observe the minute details of human and machine activities therein, someone whom we know nothing about -- a mysterious stranger -- you might think I was talking about Superman.

In fact, I'm talking about Frank Soltesz. Soltesz may have been a mere mortal, but certainly many of us would consider the artwork he did to be a superhuman feat of illustration.

Since there seems to be no biographical information anywhere on the artist the only clues about his career we can look to are what we've seen so far.

So was his area of illustration expertise a comfortable niche or a pigeon hole?

We really don't know. Aside from his impressive series of cutaways for Armstrong's Industrial Insulation, I've found very few examples of work by Soltesz. And what I have found, more often than not, is similar to those cutaways in style and perspective. Soltesz either chose to do mainly huge technical subjects seen from a great distance or clients chose him for his expertise with that sort of material.

Sometimes we choose the job... sometimes the job chooses us.

The only story illustration by the artist I've come across is this cover (above) for one of (Marvel Comics publisher) Martin Goodman's "men's sweat" magazines. Its existence at least reassures us that Frank Soltesz was as accomplished at dramatic close-ups of intense action as he was at far-off views of technical complexity.

The rest, at least for now, remains a mystery.

All of these images can be found at full size in my Frank Soltesz Flickr set.


  1. Anonymous11:00 PM

    Ok Leif,
    After seeing today's stratospheric Soltesz TWA illo and after your insightful comment on the frogman doing the sushi treatment on the octopus for THE men's mag, I am bound and determined to help you get to the heart of this guy. One question, have you been able to tell how quickly he pounded out those panoramic cutaway paintings?

  2. Do you have any information on Frank Soltesz other watercolor works, like his calendar illustrations. I am looking for one in particular that has an old man fixing a boat on the beach. Any help you could provide would be wonderful.

  3. I'm sorry, Leah C - this is all I have on Frank Soltesz. But if I ever do come across the art you mentioned, I'll certainly post it here and in my Frank Soltesz Flickr set! Thanks for your comment.

  4. Frank Soltesz was my grandfather. He was originally a commercial artist and then he switched over to watercolor paintings. Some of my favorite work that he has done (in addition to his cutaways) is his series of Esso map covers and his Christmas card artwork. It is neat to know that his work is still apreciated and odd to think that people regard him as a man of mystery.

  5. Dear Tammy;

    Thanks for leaving your comment and filling in a few details about the fantastic Frank Soltesz. Your grandfather has may admirers and we'd love to learn more about him! If you feel comfortable doing so, please contact me at my email address: and I'd be very happy to correspond further with you about your grandfather.

    Thanks again for writing!

    Best wishes - Leif

  6. Anonymous10:05 PM

    Leif, I see the post from my cousin Tammy... my mother was Frank Soltesz's eldest daughter. Some of the samples you post are among the favorites for the family. Sadly, the family lost many originals recently as my mother lost her home in the recent San Diego Fires. We still have several of his pieces though, and my sister and I are embarking on a project to digitally photograph what we have and catalog them for all to enjoy. He was unique in his style, and loved by many. Thank for preserving his work. - Scott

  7. Anonymous1:28 AM

    I have an old page from a calendar-- a watercolor of a beached fishing boat on a dune entitled, "No More Fishing" by Frank Soltesz. Scott, it would be wonderful if you would let us all know a little more about your grandfather. Do you know where the locale was for the "No More Fishing" scene? If you ever reissue more of his prints I'm sure there are folks who would love to buy them. I would love to know of sources for prints of some of his other boating works.

    I'm so sorry to hear of your family's loss in the fires.

  8. Hi,
    i love the Franck's illustrations style. I would like to find a book about these fatastiques pictures.

    Do you know if a compilation book exist?

    Google doesn't find it for me.

    Thank's you a lot!

  9. Sorry medjid, there is no book.

  10. Anonymous10:07 AM

    For those of you still wondering about Frank's background, you can find information at

    The website is maintained by his son, so it's obviously very accurate.

    Frank was my husband's great uncle.

  11. Anonymous11:20 PM

    Is the "No More Fishing" print available anywhere?