Monday, July 18, 2011

41 Illustrators and How They Worked

A long-awaited new reference book on American illustration has just arrived. “Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators & How They Worked” documents the life and work of a select group of Golden Age illustrators.

It’s a whopper of a book: 432 pages, 9 x 12 inches, and hundreds of high-quality color reproductions. Tipping the scale at six solid pounds, it’s enough to knock the wind out of anyone who tries to read it in bed.

The book was lovingly compiled by illustration historian Fred Taraba. It compiles the “Methods of the Masters” articles that Mr. Taraba wrote for the magazine Step-by-Step Graphics from 1989 to 2001. In this respect, it resembles its 1946 predecessor “Forty Illustrators and How They Work,” which was a compilation of biographical articles that Ernest Watson wrote for Art Instruction / American Artist magazines.

The book leaves out the most famous illustrators, such as Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, Maxfield Parrish and N. C. Wyeth. The author admits that the lack of these big-brand names made it hard to find a publisher at first, until the project was championed by Dan Zimmer, publisher of Illustration magazine.


But plenty of ink has already been spilled on the headline illustrators. American illustration had a very deep bench. The people featured in this new collection, such as Saul Tepper, Mead Schaeffer, Pruett Carter, and Alice Barber Stephens, well deserve the attention.


Unlike a lot of art books, where long-winded writing crowds out the art, the pictures occupy plenty of page space, and most of the images have never been seen before. In the case of virtuoso John Gannam, for instance, we get to see not only his finished paintings, but also tearsheets, studio photos, thumbnail sketches, and color studies. The attention to working methods makes the book a useful tool for art students, and for illustration enthusiast who want to peek behind the curtain.

Subjects include: Constantin Alajalov, McClelland Barclay, Walter Baumhofer, Harry Beckhoff, Rudolph Belarski, Wladyslaw T. Benda, Walter Biggs, Franklin Booth, Austin Briggs, Arthur William Brown, Margaret Brundage, Charles Livingston Bull, Gilbert Bundy, Pruett Carter, Matt Clark, Walter Appleton Clark, Will Crawford, F.O.C. Darley, Joe DeMers, Albert Dorne, Robert Fawcett, James Montgomery Flagg, John Gannam, Edwin Georgi, Earl Oliver Hurst, John LaGatta, Andrew Loomis, Orson Lowell, Neysa McMein, Wallace Morgan, Rose O’Neill, Herbert Paus, Edward Penfield, Coles Phillips, Garrett Price, Norman Price, Mead Schaeffer, Alice Barber Stephens, Saul Tepper, Jon Whitcomb, and Coby Whitmore.

The price of $44.95 is also inviting to any budget-conscious student. You can buy it directly from Dan Zimmer at Illustrated Press (with free shipping), from select retail outlets, or from Amazon. The book will be officially unveiled at ComicCon later this month.

Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked
The Illustrated Press, where you can preview the whole book  

13 comments:

EZ Goodnight said...

Excellent, this will look good on my self beside "The Illustrator in America."

Rebecca said...

Wonderful write up on this book! Definitely planning on placing this at #1 in my "Dear Santa" letter. ;)

Vicki said...

It looks like a fabulous resource. And Amazon has it for $29.67.

Tom Hart said...

This IS welcome news. Thanks for sharing it, James. I was pleased to find, as Vicki says, that the price is even lower than list on Amazon.

David Patel said...

didnt even stop to think about it.... pre-ordered it off amazon

Tom Hart said...

Had to laugh at David's comment. Same here. It was the quickest knee-jerk purchase I've made in years...

Joe Jusko said...

I've had the '46 "Illustrators" books for years. This will be a great companion to it. I love the Step By Step Graphics articles. Thanks for the heads up, James!

bill said...

Looks incredible. Did I miss a post or something? Will you be at ComiCon?

Greg Newbold said...

I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Glad it is finally hitting the shelves!

Brian said...

Got my pre order copy a few days ago from Illustrated press. They do such a great job on these books. I know its cheaper on Amazon but I encourage people to support them directly

Todd Bonita said...

I love the old Step-by-step graphics articles too and really learned a lot from them and still use some of the techniques today. I'm sure this book is worth it's weight and then some. I have Rockwell on Rockwell (out of print) a great little book that talks about his process first hand. Is anyone aware of a volume that does talk about the process of the other big names, NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Leyendecker, Parish??

Bil Hardenberger said...

In answer to Todd, Rockwell's process is laid out very well in NORMAN ROCKWELL Illustrator: http://www.amazon.com/Norman-Rockwell-Illustrator-Arthur-Guptill/dp/0070252130

Maybe others can post links for the other artists.

I am really into Robert Fawcett these days so it's great to see him and Al Dorne included in this book.

Andrés Carrandi said...

As it is sadly becoming a custom of mine... an unrelated comment (sorry!) I saw this article and thought of you, it's in Spanish, and again, I'm sorry, I cannot translate it for you just right now. Perhaps Babelfish or Google Translator can give you an idea of it. But it's also worth seeing because of the short video it includes.

http://uvejota.com/articles/427/como-hacer-libros-infantiles-del-futuro?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter