Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Marvin Friedman: "I was in a different world."

When Marvin Friedman was a young boy he would draw cartoons of himself "doing crazy things" and send them to his brother, who was in the Navy. "He used to share them all around the ship," says Marvin. This was perhaps what inspired the young Marvin Friedman to stick to drawing: "I wanted to be Milton Caniff," he says.

By the time he was just 13 or 14, he had set his sights even higher. "I saw Norman Rockwell's work and said, "Oh my God, this is the greatest artist in the world." Friedman decided then and there that he would become an illustrator. "Other boys were playing basketball, doing sports... I sat there drawing. I was in a different world."

"My father was a frustrated artist... a frustrated piano player. So yeah, he encouraged me."

"My mother didn't. She was scared to death I would starve. She thought, well, if it didn't work out I could paint signs or something."

When Marvin went to the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, his father paid the way. "My father was gung ho about it. We were on the edge of the depression, but my father got the two hundred and fifty dollars for the year from some place."

In his 2003 book, Marvin wrote about his childhood working at his father's hardware store:

"He taught me how to make keys and cut glass. The keys never worked and the glass always broke. He tried to teach me how to put wagons and bicycles together. It took him ten minutes, it took me three hours and they were never right. I wouldn't get anything right because I wanted to be home drawing. I really don't know why he didn't kick me in the ass. Yes I do. He loved me. He was never allowed his dreams and would see to it that I was special."

During his senior year in art school Marvin's father developed cancer. It took his life in what Marvin describes as "nine horrific months". Marvin spent as much time as possible at his father's side and did not want to return to PMSA. "I was devastated by my father's death and I didn't want to go back. But the last thing he said to me was 'I want you to finish school' so I went back for that reason."

Thinking back on it today he says as an aside, "I think four years of art school is ridiculous".

* my Marvin Friedman Flickr set.

* Many thanks to Brian Postman and Harold Henriksen for providing all of today's scans!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:28 PM

    Great story from a different world!

    Marvin Friedman must have seen Honoré Daumier's "Drama" - the one which depicts people carried away and getting up from their chairs watching a dramatic theatre scene.

    The last picture here by Marvin looks like some contemporary "movie-version" of the very same theme.

    Just great!