Saul Tepper was a American prominent illustrator, born on Christmas day 1899 to eastern European immigrants. Tepper began his career with art very young and continued with it for most of his life, eventually be inducted other illustrators hall of fame.
As the son of immigrants, Tepper inherited their work ethic and demonstrated incredible resolve, working hard all his life. By the time he was 19, he held a full time job in his own lettering studio. On top of this already arduous workload, Tepper continued his studies in art in the evenings. Specifically, he attended Cooper Union’s composition class (taught by William De Leftwich), as well as George Bridgeman’s “Ideas in drawing” at the Art Students League. He didn’t emerge as an illustrator until 1925 where he worked in the Van Dyke Studios. Afterwards he continued developing his illustrations with his apprenticeship under Harvey Dunn(which is generally cited to be his greatest influence).
From there he began to illustrate for magazines. He started with Liberty Magazine, which then attracted the interest of other magazines such as Colliers, which then got him commissions from more magazines including, Saturday Evening Post and Country Gentleman), Woman’s Home Companion, The American, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.
By the 1930’s Tepper had established himself in the field of illustration and could afford to request a high commission rate. His most noteworthy commissions came from an advertising campaigns for Chesterfield cigarettes and General Electric and his WW II posters, and by Stetson Hats.
The next 13 years of his illustration career are often said to be his most productive years, working in the Hotel Des Artistes.
In the 1950’s Teppers worked as an adventure illustrator, but began to tire of the trade. He switched from illustration and worked as an television art director for J. Walter Thompson and BBD&O. He mostly created work for commercials.
In general, Tepper’s art is often realistic, however he does include stylized elements. For example, Tepper generally but he often amped up the contrasts in lighting. Teppers bold usage of dramatic lighting is perhaps the most striking quality of his art. He often employed broader, less detailed strokes in background figures and objects.
Teppers style of art is often compared to that of Dean Cornwell, another extremely successful illustrator of the time. This similarity is often attributed to the fact that both of them studied under the great Harvey Dunn.
As for subject matter, Tepper didn’t really constrain himself to anything in particular. He did practically everything from romantic to adventure illustrations.
However Tepper’s talents and interests outside of illustration .Aside from his successful illustration career, Tepper had a love for music and produced several songs. He was eventually rewarded with a membership in ASCAp in 1941 for the songs he published. Tepper’s work would be recorded by artists like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller and Harry James.
Likewise, he was also a lecturer. Teppers spoke to students and professionals and alike and in many establishments, including Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, and the Society of Illustrators and Art Directors Clubs.
As a fan of Dean Cornell’s work, I am quite fond of of Tepper’s work. I think he has a very unique and successful style of semi-realism, which is both believable and slightly stylized. Additionally, his dramatic and excellent understanding of lighting is something I would like to apply to my own art.