Sunday, September 8, 2019

New Book on Austin Briggs

Austin Briggs is one of my favorite illustrators of the mid-20th century, based on what I have read about him in the Famous Artists Course and Masters of American Illustration.


So I was delighted to receive a copy of the new art book Austin Briggs: The Consummate Illustrator, published by Auad Publishing, which previously produced the books on Robert Fawcett and Albert Dorne.

Austin Briggs was born in a railroad car and raised on a farm with no books and no art. His mother never really understood him and his father and his sister died when he was young.



He came to New York as a teenager with a knack for drawing, but was so eager to get started working professionally that he skipped the chance to study in art school.

He parlayed his drawing skills into some pen and ink illustrations, but found to his dismay that art directors in the early 1930s didn't want to buy pen and ink anymore.



So he assisted Alex Raymond, a comic artist his age who had just invented Flash Gordon and other comic properties, and who needed help with the workload. Most of his contributions are uncredited.



After the war years were over, the magazines blossomed with realistic, color illustrations. Briggs went back to basics, learning the skills he would need to master color and painting.



He worked in many media, creating dramatic illustrations, car ads, and romantic clinches. They were inventive and original, and always based on solid drawing.



After the public became jaded with full color, realistic art, he shook up the illustration world by returning to his roots and doing black and white drawings. Even major advertising accounts bought into the casual look.

They look easy to do, but Briggs brought a craftsman's sense of thoroughness to the job, generating many preliminary studies and alternate versions.


Although the book is mostly devoted to high quality reproductions of the art, the introductory text is excellent, too. The book was written by David Apatoff, the author of the blog Illustration Art, and he goes into the gripping story of Briggs' life, his philosophy, and his working methods.
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Austin Briggs: The Consummate Illustrator from Auad Publishing (9 x 12 inches, hardback, 160 pages, full color, $34.95).

Briggs is also covered in a chapter of Masters of American Illustration: 41 Illustrators and How They Worked

Previous posts on GurneyJourney about Briggs

1 comment:

CerverGirl said...

Thank you for sharing information and images about Austin Briggs--this looks like a great book.