Chris Ware was born on December 29, 1967, in Omaha, Nebraska. His illustration career began in the early 1980’s, when his first comics were published in The Daily Texan, the University of Texas’s student publication. His career really took off in his second year of university, when Art Spiegelman noticed his work and asked him to contribute to his magazine, Raw. The expose and confidence Ware gained from this helped give him momentum moving forward into his career.
After graduating, Ware moved to Chicago, where he began contributing to The Chicago Reader and New City. He published a weekly science fiction serial in the paper Floyd Farland: Citizen of the Future. Eventually, all these comics were compiled and printed in a book. The book brought him much attention and acclaim, but today, he finds it severely embarrassing and tries to destroy all the copies he can find.
Ware has been a regular contributor to the New Yorker. Since 1999, he has illustrated over 25 covers and and made many other contributions to the contents of the magazine. He has published many award winning graphic novels, which form the bulk of his career’s work. Some notable ones are Building Stories, which was named one of the Top Ten Fiction books of the year by both Time Magazine and the New York Times in 2012. His latest graphic novel, Monograph, was recently released.
Ware has also done some exciting and high-profile, non-graphic novel projects. He has done illustrations for This American Life, and a mural for 826 Valencia, a San Francisco literacy project, among others.
Ware’s work is linear and mathematical. His illustrations are precise and somewhat geometric, which makes them well suited to the panel format of graphic novels. His style is realistic, highly detailed, and vividly coloured. Perhaps the most enticing thing about Ware’s work, however, is not even his illustrations but the content – the stories he tells with his art. Like many illustrators, he possesses an uncanny knack for storytelling. Reading some of his comics, I found that his novels read like a screenplay. The dialogue is extremely convincing and the characters are fully realized. My favourite thing about Ware’s work is his insight and expression of the human experience. Some of his favourite topics include isolation, depression, and emotional torment.
Vivienne Flesher was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Parsons, and after graduation, began trying to boost her portfolio by working at Atlantic Monthly and the soft porn magazine SWANK. One day at SWANK, she was looking for her editor to get an illustration approved. When he let her into his office, she found him with a fully naked woman, all the blinds drawn. After that incident, she decided her portfolio was more than ready and quit SWANK!
Flesher’s first big break was with the first American Illustration Annual, which featured more than a dozen of her pieces. After this, work came easily and her career set off. Although there is little information about her, Flesher is still living and working. Her list of clients is impressive and extensive and includes the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, O Magazine, Criterion Collective, and even a US postage stamp.
She began her career working in pastels, enjoying the looseness and freedom of the medium. Later she switched to charcoals, to gain more control as well as a new approach. Now she works with a combination of digital and traditional medias, using photography in combination with her drawings. Her work is light, colourful, and alive. Her amazing sense of proportion, line quality, and deft handling of various mediums helps her blend realism and abstraction of portraits and figures to the perfect degree.
Flesher now lives with her husband, painter Ward Schumaker, in San Francisco. The two work closely together in their shared creative pursuits and have held shows internationally.
George Hardie was born in 1944. After attending St. Martins School of Art, he continued his education, getting a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. While still in school, he was commissioned to create the cover of Led Zeppelin’s new record for $60. The record, of course went on to be immensely successful, and his cover was praised by many. Hardie, however, considered it one of his worst works, and didn’t even include it in his grad show, due to its lack of “original thought”.
After school he joined Nicholas Thirkell Associates (NTA), a design firm that operated under the Macmillan Publishing Company. Working with record cover company Hipgnosis, he did cover art for many famous bands including for Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, and Wings. Although these brought him much acclaim, he was never starstruck by the artists themselves. In fact, he didn’t even own a record player.
It’s essential that my images have some kind of function. I can’t get out of it by saying they’re surrealist dreams.
Hardie’s work is highly conceptual and playful. He often utilizes storytelling elements, creating visual puzzles to be solved by the viewer. His work is cheeky and witty, often tied to words or phrases. Hardie also works traditionally, never using a computer. Instead he uses rulers, French curves, a light box, and ellipse guides to create his precise, graphic illustrations.
He’s been teaching at the University of Brighton for 24 years, and has been a member of the AGI since 1994. In addition to his design work, he now acts as the AGI’s international secretary.
Tomi Ungerer was born Jean-Thomas Ungerer on November 28, 1931. His father – to whom he attributes his artistic skill – was an artist, historian, and engineer, but died in 1935 when Ungerer was 3 1/2 years old. His childhood was marked by the deep divides of the region he was raised in and the scars of WWII, something he would later explore in his memoir, À la Guerre Comme À La Guerre (A Childhood Under the Nazis). During the war, Alsace was annexed by the Nazis, and French was banned in schools. From then on, until its liberation, the Nazis indoctrinated students every day with their teachings. Ungerer viewed the battles in 1945 that led to the eviction of the German armies from the region, and made drawings of these events.
It was total, systematic brainwashing every day
Ungerer began studying at the Municipal School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg, but after failing his baccalaureate exams, took time off to hitchhike his way around Europe. In 1956, he headed off to New York City with $60 and his drawings.
Here his first children’s book, The Mellops Go Flying, was published by Ursula Nordstrom of Harper and Row (she would later go on to publish Shel Silverstein), and it met immediate success. This would begin a career of famous children’s books, including Critter, Adelaide, Emil, The Three Robbers, and Rufus. Ungerer also began doing advertising work for the prominent magazines in New York.
The publication of two books aimed at the adult reader, The Underground Sketchbook of Tomi Ungerer and Fornicon, which both featured comical erotic illustrations, led to a change in the nature of his work. This was in part due to the fact that he was no longer considered desirable or appropriate to hire for children’s books, but also because the political climate of the time. The Vietnam war was breaking out, and Ungerer became increasingly invested in political work. A strong supporter of the Civil Rights movement as well as the anti-war movement, he created posters and satire illustrations for both.
Ungerer found himself, around this time, a sort of exile. Having been somewhat shunned from the illustration scene in America, he and his wife moved to Nova Scotia and then to Ireland. Europe, he found, was far more receptive and less sensitive to the erotic and shocking nature of his work.
Not because I am so great, though I am, but because all the others are so dreadful.
Leonard Baskin was born on August 15, 1922, into a Jewish family. His father, Samuel Baskin, was a Rabbi. When he was seven, the family moved to New York City. Baskin set his sights on becoming a sculptor at the age of fourteen when he saw a sculpture demonstration at Macy’s. From this moment, his career would only grow.
Baskin began studying sculpture at Manhattan’s Education Alliance, under Maurice Glickman, who would arrange his first solo show for him in 1939. Baskin went on to study at New York University’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts as well as Yale University. After three years in the United States Navy, he spent time traveling in France and Italy, studying art.
During his time at Yale, Baskin developed an interest in printing, which would come to form an integral part of his long career. Inspired by William Blake, who worked as both a fine artist and a printer, Baskin founded Gehenna Press. The first book he printed was a selection of his own poems named On a Pyre of Withered Roses. Over 50 years, until Baskin’s death in 2000, Gehenna would produce about 100 extremely high-quality, elegant books. For a small, private printing company, the output and demand for products was outstanding, as well as its success.
Baskin’s career in a multitude of fine art medias is perhaps what he is best known for, however. The breadth and variety of his work is astounding. His massive sculptures are some of his more well known works, among them the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial sculpture, the Woodrow Wilson Memorial sculpture, and the Holocaust Memorial in Ann Arbor, MI. He also created huge, life-size woodcut prints, painted, and drew.
The female form is useful for some ideas, but the colossal male is better suited to the ghoulish ones I try to portray.
In his work, Baskin was inspired often inspired by poetry. He worked closely with the British poet Ted Hughes, and even moved to England for nearly a decade to collaborate on books and art with him. In his work can be seen a sense of his religious upbringing, and a sensitivity to the chaos and upheaval that was the 21st century.
Baskin was able to work in nearly any medium he wished, with great success. In this respect, Leonard Baskin is quite a remarkable and unique artist. Not only was his fine art well received and influential, but he was a well-read and extremely educated man. He wrote, critiqued art, and taught printmaking and sculpture at Smith College and Hampshire College, both in Massachusetts. Baskin’s many awards include a Caldecott award for his children’s book illustration, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Gold Medal of the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and innumerable retrospective exhibits while he was still alive. Today his work is displayed in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of American Art, the Vatican Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Waldemar Swierzy was born in Katowice, Poland, in 1931. His art career began early, as he was one of the youngest graduates of the Cracow Academy of Fine Art’s Faculty of Graphic Arts, where he started studying at the age of 15!
After completing his education he began working at the Arts and Graphic Arts Publishing House (WAG). This was an important centre for poster design. Here, Swierzy helped push the boundaries and rules of design. Besides becoming one of the most important Polish poster artists ever, he designed book illustrations, record jackets, calendars, and stamps. He was also tasked with designing the Polish pavilion for several international world fairs including New York, Beijing, Vienna, Poznan, and Casablanca.
In 1965, Swierzy began teaching at the National College of Fine Arts in Poznan. In 1987, he became a full professor. Throughout this time he gave guest lectures at foreign universities in Havana, Mexico, West Berlin, and Kassel. Swierzy became a member of the AGI in 1966. Today, his works can be found all over the world in museums like the Institute of Contemporary Art (London), Kunstbibliothek (Berlin), Hermitage (St. Petersburg), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), National Museum (Poznan), and the Poster Museum (Wilanow).
There is relatively little information about Swierzy’s personal life, aside from his career achievements. Due to this fact, I thought I would take a little extra space to explore his artistic style and my personal thoughts on it. A strong focus on portraiture was consistent throughout Swierzy’s career. His portraits are dynamic and full of movement. Never, static, he often used his expert handling of various medias to his advantage in creating portraits that seem to jump off the page. Like many other artists of his time, Swierzy loved bright, bold colours. Something I appreciate about Swierzy, is that unlike many other artists working in the 60’s, his art doesn’t seem to age. In my opinion, this is due to the strong understanding of design principles that he put to use in all his works.
Mead Schaeffer was born on July 15, 1898 to Charles and Minnie Schaeffer. He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and reportedly knew he wanted to be an artist by the age of seven! His art education began at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, which didn’t even offer illustration classes. There he was part of the legendary Class of 1920, which would go on to produce more famous illustrators than any other. He studied under Dean Cornwell and Harvey Dunn, both of whom influenced his style and greatly improved his work. Around this time he also married his wife, Elizabeth Wilson Sawyers, who was also an artist. This 53 year long partnership, that lasted until Schaeffer’s death at the age of 82, would prove an incredible asset to him.
Like the other illustrators of his age, Schaeffer worked extensively for magazines like McCall’s, Cosmopolitan, the Woman’s Home Companion, American Magazine, and the Saturday Evening Post. He also illustrated many books for the Dodd-Mead company, including Moby Dick, Typee, Omoo, Les Miserables, The Cruise of the Cachalot, Tom Crinkle’s Log, Sans Family, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Although Schaeffer mainly worked in oil paints, he also used pen and ink and woodcut illustration. Schaeffer was widely popular and during the golden age of illustration, he was the highest paid illustrator in the world.
Schaeffer’s dedication to the authenticity of his work is part of what makes it so charming. He spent long periods of time traveling in order to capture costumes and locations appropriately. He didn’t like working from photographs, and instead worked from his imagination or from life, going to great lengths for accuracy.
One notable partnership Schaeffer had was with Norman Rockwell. Schaeffer and his family were close friends with Rockwell and would often model for his photographs. During World War II, they worked together to create a project that would aid the war effort. Rockwell created his Four Freedoms series, and Schaeffer created a series of 14 paintings to commemorate the US armed forces.
Next, Schaeffer travelled across the United States, creating paintings to celebrate the unique characteristics of each state. By the time he was finished with this project, he had completed over 5000 paintings in his career.
He and his wife decided they need a big break. They sold most of their belongings and took an extended vacation in the Caribbean. The completely changed their lifestyle, and Schaeffer later described it as his “second life”. After a break from art, Schaeffer was able to rediscover his love for painting.
I really enjoyed discovering Schaeffer’s art. I’m particularly fond of his handling of paints, as he is able to use chunky blocks of color to create real depth and shadow. His compositions are dynamic and interesting, and his characterized manage to appear stylized and realistic at the same time. I see a touch of his style in many of the digital illustrators out there today, and I think it’s interesting how we can gain inspiration from someone and not even be aware of it!
Among these young Americans it seems to be that Paul Rand is one of the best and most capable [. . .] He is a painter, lecturer, industrial designer, [and] advertising artist who draws his knowledge and creativeness from the resources of this country. He is an idealist and a realist, using the language of the poet and business man. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems but his fantasy is boundless.
– László Moholy-Nagy
Paul Rand was born in New York City in 1914 to Jewish parents. He would eventually take on the name Paul Rand in an effort to somewhat conceal his very Jewish given name – Peretz Rosenbaum. A true modernist, Rand’s brought Swiss design principles to the United States, and created some of the most iconic pieces of graphic design we have today. His skill, hard work, and philosophy effectively changed the way graphic design functions as an industry, and created a pathway for emerging designers to follow.
As a kid, Rand painted signs for his father’s grocery shop, as well as for his school. Under pressure from his father, he attended high school while taking night classes at Pratt Institute. Rand claimed that he learned “nothing” at Pratt, and so is widely regarded to be self-taught. Graphic design education didn’t really exist at this time, so Rand learned mostly from European magazines Commercial Arts and Gebrauchsgrafik, where he was introduced to Bauhaus ideas and styles. He later went on to study at Parsons School of Design and the Art Student’s League.
Rand’s early work was illustrative, and freelance. His first “regular” job was for Apparel Arts magazine, where he was given quite free reign to experiment on unique covers. His unique skill for composition and design was recognized quickly and he was then appointed art director for Esquire magazine at the tender age of 23. When one of the senior partners at Esquire left the company to create Weintraub creative agency, Rand followed and became the agency’s new art director.
Rand achieved huge amounts of success at Weintraub, eventually earning twice the pay for half the amount of time he was working before. His distinctive designs required intelligence from the viewer, but were widely popular and well – known. He used simple, sans serif fonts (usually Futura) as well as his own handwriting.
Paul Rand is perhaps best known for his work on logos, for the notable companies IBM, ABC, UPS, and Ford, among others. His philosophy with logo design was that they did not need to “create” the meaning of the brand, but convey what they company was already known for.
It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning.
Rand’s logos were simple, and not because he aimed strictly for that end, but because he was aware of what he wanted to communicate. He said that logos should aim to convey one idea only, more than that would confuse the message.
Ultimately, the only mandate in the design of logos, it seems, is that they be distinctive, memorable, and clear.
Upon their first meeting, Lázló Maholy-Nagy asked Rand if he read art criticism. When Rand said he did not, Maholy-Nagy replied, “Pity.” From then on, Rand consumed art criticism and philosophy books at a rapid pace. He developed his own theories of graphic design and published them in numerous books.
Rand’s impact on the design world has been to nearly revolutionize the way it operates. Not only did he embrace modernist design, he introduced the iconic art director and copywriter combination when he began working with Bill Bernbach at Weintraub agency. He also famously presented his logo clients with presentation books that showed the choices he made when creating the logo, and their relevance to the final deliverable. This practice, which has now become standard, was at the time new and surprising. His logo booklets not only showed his process, but contained information on color, typography, form, and symbolism.
Paul Rand continued working hard until his death at the age of 82. The legacy he ultimately left changed graphic design forever. Through his lifetime, he received awards from the American Institution of Graphic Arts, the Art Director’s Club of New York, an honorary doctorate from Philadelphia College of Art, and was inducted into the New York Art Director’s Hall of Fame in 1972.
The man we know as Hergé was born Georges Remi, in Etterbeek, Belgium. As a young boy, he was nicknamed “curious fox” by his friends. His first drawings were published in Le Boy-Scout Belge (The Belgian Boy Scout) at the age of 17. Around this time, he began using the name “Hergé” – derived from the pronounced sound of his initials in French – as a pen name, like the illustrator Erté.
His first comic strip, which would eventually lead to the creation of Hergé’s world famous character Tintin, was called Totor, de la Patrouille des Hannetons, and was published in Le Boy-Scout Belge. Hergé then began working for the newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle. Tintin was born in 1929, when Hergé was promoted to the chief editor position of the children’s section of the magazine. Originally, Tintin was was created to be, essentially, propaganda for children, since the magazine was very conservative. The first Tintin story published was Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
Hergé began doing more extensive background research for his Tintin books as the popularity of the character grew. His elaborate plots were well planned, historically and culturally accurate (to a certain degree, more on that later) and featured action stories that were still nonviolent.
During World War II, Le Vingtieme Siecle was closed by the Nazis, and Hergé began working at Le Soir, a popular French newspaper controlled by the Nazis. Here, Hergé continued creating and publishing Tintin stories, and also began printing them in color. The end of the war brought an investigation into the newspaper, which was accused of conspiring with the Nazis. Hergé was swept into this controversy, and was even accused himself, but managed to escape accusations unscathed.
However, Hergé’s works and career were far from spotless. A depressed man and a heavy drinker, Hergé didn’t take criticism well and was, overall, not the best person. Many (most, ALL?) of his Tintin stories contain subtle, or explicit, racist messages. His style of portraying asian and black characters was extremely caricatured and stereotyped, and relied on negative and racist imagery. However, many of Tintin’s adventures were set abroad, and Hergé thoughtful research and portrayal of these places was appreciated. Later in life, he travelled worldwide, celebrated in the countries he visited. Hergé himself, as well as his work, faced many continued accusations of racism throughout his career and after his death. Some biographers and friends argue that Hergé’s views expressed in Tintin were no more than reflections of the commonly held political beliefs of the time. Hergé is also known for his obsessive passion for creations. Some of his questionable decisions (ex. working for Le Soir) have been chalked up to his number one priority being the continued publication of the Tintin books.
Tintin wasn’t the only thing Hergé created. He also produced two other comic series: The Adventures of Jo, Zette, and Jocko and Quick & Flupke. His skilled storytelling and endearing characters have made him a worldwide favourite with children and adults alike. Tintin books have a sense of adventure and possibility. A skilled draftsman and colorist, I feel that it is sometimes overlooked just how talented Hergé was with a pencil. As well, his ability to portray light and shadow with flat color rivals some of the best artists I know.
Hergé is a personal favourite of mine, since he introduced me to graphic novels as a genre, and helped me realize how much I love storytelling through art. Hergé even taught me how to draw hands! Regardless of Hergé as a man, Tintin will always have a very special place in my heart, as he does in the heats of millions of people all over the world.
Cole Phillips was born in Springfield, Ohio, into a lower middle class family. His parents had few aspirations for him, however, he drew throughout his childhood. His first job was at the American Radiator Company where he worked as a clerk. In 1902 he began attending Kenyon College, where he created popular illustrations for the school yearbook and magazine, The Reveille.
In his junior year, Phillips left school and headed to New York City, with hopes of making it as an artist. Of course, career plans rarely follow a linear path, and he had his fair share of ups and downs. Immediately, he was hired at the American Radiator Company’s NYC branch. He was fired however, since he drew on the job, and was found with an unflattering caricature of his boss. Next, he got a job working in what was effectively an art assembly line. Here, he would often draw just ankles, a skill that would come in surprisingly handy when he began working closely with hosiery companies Holeproof and Luxite. He quit this tedious job after only eight weeks and after a brief stint at an advertising agency, figured he could open his own. He did, but found that he had no time to paint or do any of his own work, so became a freelance illustrator, relying only on a month’s worth of savings. He was able to secure a job at the magazine Life (a different one than the one you’re probably thinking of) and began doing illustrations for them.
His big breakthrough came when he was assigned his first cover. He decided to utilize a technique he’d been thinking about, where he removed strategic parts of the foreground and bled the background color through that space, effectively using negative space to “draw” large parts of the illustration. The cover was a huge success and was dubbed the first “Fade away girl.” Phillips’ new fade away technique would become a signature of his.
Over the course of his career, Phillips would illustrate over 50 covers for Life. He also signed a five year, monthly cover contract with Good Housekeeping. He illustrated numerous books, advertisements, as well as magazine covers for Colliers, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Saturday Evening Post, Women’s Home Companion, and Liberty. Oftentimes, he wrote his own copy for his advertisements.
Phillips’ work became increasingly more sexual over time, as society loosened. Even still, many of his illustrations were of beautiful women, and caused quite a stir. He is even credited with drawing the first pin up girl. His use of strong design principles helped his work gain mass appeal, and was famous throughout the world. From 1907 – 1927 he was considered one of the most popular American illustrators. Sadly for him, his fade away work was so well liked that art directors often didn’t let him experiment outside of those bounds. Phillips was a businessman about all his illustration endeavours, and insisted that he include his signature on all his works. He died from kidney disease at the age of 47.