Fred Otnes was an American Illustrator born in Junction City, Kansas. Being raised in the midwest, Otnes’ childhood would be abruptly changed as his father frequently moved around because of his work. Due to this reason, Otnes’ gained a sense of independence, in exchange for his socializing experiences. As Otnes probably didn’t have much friends during his childhood, he spend his time drawing at a early age, imitating cartoonists and comic book artists alike. Otnes’ skills were always encouraged/praised by his father and it was around high-school where his art teacher gave him a chance to illustrate for The Lincoln Journal, giving Otnes an early apprenticeship in the engraving department.
Not only was Otnes skilled at a very young age, during his time where he attended the Academy of Art in Chicago, Otnes was also working in Whitaker-Guernsey, a famous studio in Chicago known to be near the top at the time. After getting married to Fran McCaughan, Otnes decided to travel to New York to work in Raul Studios, another powerhouse at the time. He would then build up a reputation, making representative illustrations for magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, True, and Collier’s.
After creating their International style house, Otnes would then build a studio space in his new home, allowing him to discover new print techniques and practice experimentation with different medias, resulting in the start of his collage style. After the 80’s Otnes’ would then go around the world teaching at multiple institutes.
Otnes’ was an agent of change in an awkward time of illustration. His contribution to the world of illustration today has impacted the influence of how traditional illustrative narratives flow from the past, to a new alternative conceptual interpretation.
He also won like, more than 200 awards so that’s pretty neat. I can imagine him flexing at illustrators today, sitting on his throne in the Illustrator’s Hall of Fame.
Maybe that’s just me (?)