Monday, September 10, 2007

Lucia... Lucia Lerner

"I have info about Lucia for you..."

Those seven words sent an electric thrill through me when I read them in an email I received last year from an illustrator named Will Nelson. For several years I had been hoping to learn more about a wonderful but mysterious artist who's signature or story credit was always just the single name, "Lucia". Long time readers might recall this post from January of 2006, when I explained how Lucia's work had struck me from the moment I first laid eyes on it.

But finding even a scrap of information about Lucia proved to be impossible.

Then, in March of 2006, Will began relating to me his recollections of working as a young up-and-coming illustrator in the 1950's at the Chicago powerhouse art studio, Stephens, Biondi, DeCicco:

"When I came on board," wrote Will, "there were about ninety people in the organization. When I started right out of Art Center the head of the Los Angeles studio was Howie Forsberg, an illustrator, along with a staff which included Fritz Willis and Morgan"Joe"Henninger. It was in Chicago that I met Lucia (last name Lerner)."

Hearing all this from Will absolutely blew my mind! Up to this point I had not even realized that Lucia was a woman. Since commercial art was, relatively speaking, a "boys club" in the 50's, I had presumed that "Lucia" was a male artist's last name. But Will set me straight:

"Right...I said "she". Lucia... was a very classy lady in addition to being a talented illustrator. At a time when the profession was dominated by men Lucia more than held her own in the studio ranks."

"Lucia was the only female artist around that I know of. Maybe other cities? But in the SBD family she was queen and treated accordingly."

So began a long and rewarding correspondence with Will, who related not only his recollections about the mysterious Lucia, but also a wealth of invaluable first-hand information about one of Chicago's premier art studios of the day - Stephens, Biondi, DeCicco.

This week, you will learn what I have learned. This week, let's look at the the wonderful art of Lucia Lerner.

You'll find a dozen pieces by this tremendous illustrator in my Lucia Flickr set.


  1. Wonderful! I'll be looking forward to your posts this week, Leif. I'm particularly interested in the women in illustration who must have had a challenging time of it back then...

  2. That's great to hear, Chrissie -- I share your interest in finding out more about the women of the illustration business back in the day. From what I've heard you're absolutely right that they had a tough time of it.

    Its a topic I plan to return to in the coming weeks... so stay tuned!

  3. Interesting history coming this week once again, I’ll keep with my eyes wide open :) to know more about Lucia (btw a common female name in this place of the world)

  4. Anonymous11:55 PM

    All right, Lucia!! Looking forward to learning more about this pioneering woman illustrator...her work is fabulous! Lots of dynamic line work and striking color combinations. Great find, Leif!