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Today's Inspiration

Celebrating illustration, design, cartoon and comic art of the mid-20th century.

Last Build Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2018 17:36:55 +0000


Ken Dallison:"I was saying to myself, 'When will anybody ever be able to turn the page in a magazine and go, "That's a Ken Dallison."'

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 00:58:00 +0000

In this fifth abridged excerpt from my interview, Ken Dallison describes the challenge of discovering one's own style. There are just over twelve hours left in our Kickstarter campaign. Please visit the campaign page to pledge any amount.

LP: Have a look at this… this is from Maclean’s from around 1959.


The comic strip work I did in my youth was immediately devoured by its equally young audience and I was recognized for it by many fans right away. When I started my painting career with a series of one man shows many years later in 1975, I received reviews in the major newspapers and art magazines and positive reactions from many generous collectors. But, as an illustrator you are anonymous to the public unless you have a vehicle like The Saturday Evening Post and are Norman Rockwell. Illustration receives little recognition. I think of all the extremely talented men and women of illustration who I knew and whose work I admired and followed avidly in that golden period. Attention should be paid! They should be noted and remembered in our Art History for all they did to brighten our lives.

Continued tomorrow...

Dedicated to the memory of Tom Bjarnason(image)

An Illustrator’s Story – A Life of Deadlines (Part 1)

Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:01:00 +0000

By Gerald LazareThe beginning of my career as an illustrator was preceded by 3 years as a comic strip artist at a place called Bell Features. It was brief and intense. Though I was only 16, it taught me to be disciplined and meet deadlines. Very important, as well, for the needs of an illustrator. After the Second World War and the demise of Bell Features, I embarked on a career as an illustrator with an apprenticeship at Bomac Engravers...... and became involved with the “Famous Artists Course” through my friendship with its founder, Albert Dorne, who I had first met on one of my yearly trips to New York as a teenager. Then, after a year studying art in Europe, I returned to Toronto in April, 1954 to begin a freelance illustration career that lasted over two decades from the early 1950s to the 1970s.For those old enough to remember, it truly was a “Golden Age for Illustration,” with a wealth of great draftsmen, designers, typographers and art directors filling the countless magazines, books, newspapers, and corporate publications. The prosperity that followed the War fueled trade and rebuilding and the Pearson and Trudeau eras resulted in Canada politically coming of age with its own flag and constitution. Expo ’67 in Montreal was a great success inviting the world to share in Canada’s accomplishments. In good times The Arts flourish and, in Toronto, we formed a Illustrator’s Society as well as a society that specialized in the book field to organize contracts and provide a bank of illustrators that publishers could draw on when needed.(Top Canadian illustrators of 1968, Top row: Huntley Brown, John Mardon, Tom McNeely, Hanz Zander, Will Davies, Roy Hewetson. Lower row: Stewart Sherwood, Tom Bjarnason, Roger Hill, Gerry Sevier, John Wood, Gerry Lazare, Lewis Parker)In the early sixties I acquired an agent in New York, Estelle Mandell, who supplied me with an abundance of assignments for the American market. When I first began to freelance in 1956, I refused advertising work to concentrate on fiction which I enjoyed more and at that time was plentiful in magazine and book publishing. Many of the books I received illustration assignments on were for young people.(This is what Estelle Mandell would send out as a representation of my work at the time.)Before a book is published it comes to the artist in galley form. The pages of text are printed running together in a long, page-wide, vertical roll for the artist to read and decide which scenes in the story are the best to depict visually. He or she begins to visualize the drawings that will best describe the characters and the twists and turns of the plot. If you love reading and dreaming, this first step is very pleasurable, especially with a glass of wine on a sofa in the early evening. It is from this, that the sketches and compositions follow. I illustrated many adventure stories which needed a cover and several line drawings inside.Jean Little, the celebrated Canadian author of children’s books is a very sensitive and lyrical writer whose books were always a pleasure to do. I illustrated three of them (see above and below). They are often about families with very personal problems and needed an artist who could depict very distinct personalities in turmoil. I love this kind of challenge. At this time in my life I had a young son and knew many families with children and these families were often personal friends that I used as models.(Little, Brown & Company LTD.)Stories about our Great Canadian North are a must for any Canadian illustrator. When the mother and daughter of Pierre Berton, the iconic journalist and author, wrote “Johnny in the Klondike,” for McClelland & Stewart in 1964, I was asked to illustrate it and I jumped at the chance.From my agent in New York I received My Fair Lady. It was to be published by Warner Bros. and the Four Winds Press to take advantage of the enormous popularity of the film. I was told that the book was intended to appeal to a teenage girl audience. I had read its source, Shaw’s play P[...]

Frank Furlong: "... the most fulfilling work of my time in commercial art."

Thu, 16 Jul 2015 16:57:00 +0000

Frank Furlong was a young illustrator in Detroit during the mid-20th century when that city, fueled on high-octane auto industry dollars, was as much an epicenter of advertising art as New York. Previously Frank described his departure from Detroit and what came next. Today, the conclusion of the story... ~ Leif Peng Frank writes..."Word got around and an old rep from Detroit called from L.A. wanting my reel as old clients from Detroit had moved on to various cities and expressed an interest in what I was doing. So work started coming from L.A. and I started flying back and forth, still getting work in Dallas. I landed a 20 minute film for the Southern Baptists of "David and Goliath." This was major work in that market and gave me a chance to use Jack Unruh as a stylist. Turned out the Baptists didn't want me playing fast and loose with their idea of the showdown. No suspense, no drama. It was pretty... but dull. Fortunately I still have one of Jack's BGs... magnificent. It was about this time that Peggy Lee was singing "Is that all there is?" - and I felt the same. So we moved on again.""Feel free to envy me in that for a couple years Tex Avery and I were the animation department for a commercial production house here in L.A." "Tex's hands were pretty much crippled by arthritis so he was more a teacher than anything else. At meetings with clients he came up with gloriously funny bits but unfortunately most all of them wanted harder sell so I wound up directing the commercials, with Tex as an adviser. Thank God." "I fear most of the animation I see where people are trying to emulate Tex really misses the point. He wasn't just speed, he was timing and humor. I remember one such attempt with the resultant comment from Tex that he didn't mind people stealing his stuff, he just wished they'd get it right." "Tex never understood his place on the Pantheon and was stumped when fans from all over the world showed up wanting to meet him. One of my favorite memories in this end of the biz was directing a spot that called for a female shopper walking away from the camera at it's end. I was not an animator (I kinda backed into it from designing characters and BGs) but, with Tex at hand, I knew what I wanted and was unable to get it from a couple really good people so I tried my hand. When I showed Tex the pencil test his reaction was "Furlong, that's the worst animation I've ever seen. I love it!" "To Tex it was the gag uber alles. Different from Disney he couldn't have been.""I worked animation for almost 40 years and I've got to admit it was the most fulfilling work of my time in commercial art, but I never again found the atmosphere I enjoyed with other artists that makes Detroit's glory days unforgettable. Before I wrap up I want to make sure I didn't leave the wrong impression, by maybe concentrating on the fun and love of my time. It was work. And it was hard work. It was frustrating and fulfilling. I feel privileged to have been part of it."To see Frank's recent work, please visit [...]