American Illustrators Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3049 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

¶ … Illustrators

Today, with the high-tech electronic communication and the ease of using computers to conceive of, draw, or refine artwork, it is difficult to conceive of an environment where there were few visuals and all had to be done by hand one-by-one. The creativity that existed through this artwork has been "illustrious," where each designer uses an "illustration" or an image to enhance or make communication more attractive. "Illustration is a communicative tool, clarifying and defining our understanding of the world" (National museum of American illustration). Because it is used in commercial, military and political applications, illustration also acts as a means to trace social and cultural history. It is a significant and lasting art form that provides an actual visual record of civilization.

Edwin Austin Abbey is considered by some to be the America's first well-known illustrator. His work was very influential during his lifetime, and remains so to this day. He was inspired by the American Centennial in 1876 and the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which included a wide selection of European paintings. Already a supporter of drawing from life, he was motivated further by seeing the work of the Pre-Raphaelites. This led him to travel to England and draw for Herrick's Poems.

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Many illustrators are also writers and journalists. Francis Davis Millet, who was born in 1846 in Massachusetts, was a drummer boy with the Union forces in the Civil War and then graduated from Harvard with a degree in literature. He too, went to the Centennial Exposition, but as a correspondent for the "Advertiser." During the Russian Turkish War of 1877, he was a war correspondent in the U.S. And England he also was known for his period scenes that were popular with the public. His home on Broadway provided images of the history of this area (JSS Virtual Gallery).

Term Paper on American Illustrators Assignment

Although most illustrators at this time were men, some women were making a name for themselves. Jessie Willcox Smith, who was born in Philadelphia in 1863, originally studied to be a kindergarten teacher. She then found her ability for drawing at the later of 20. After coursework at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she had a long and distinguished career as an illustrator of children's magazines and books including Heidi (BPIP).

John Sargent, who was born in Florence, Italy, during 1856 to expatriate American parents, was a well-known fine arts painter and illustrator, as was the case for many artists. Also, as with many others in the art field, he was praised and scorned for his artwork. His Venetian works were praised by some, while others called him a "travel-book illustrator" rather than a true artist. However, criticisms from art critics did not deter him or his wealthy patrons. He captured people of all ages, primarily of wealthy and prominent social backgrounds. His reputation grew with association to this well-to-do clientele and soon those wanting to establish their own reputation in high society hired him for fashionable portraits (esortment).

Because of their involvement in world affairs, many illustrators were politically affiliated. John Sloan was a strong Socialist supporter in the early years of the 20th century. He illustrated for journals as the Masses. He is associated as a member of what is called the "Revolutionary Gang" or the "Black School." When young, he lived in the center of New York City in a top-story tiny studio on West Twenty-third Street. From his roof or studio window he would watch the world as it transpired below. He struggled to get enough commissions as an illustrator to survive; although his City Life etchings brought him critical recognition, they remained mostly unsold. He continued to capture the spirit NYC as is grew and changed. He began to receive more commissions, and in 1912 moved to a much larger loft studio on Sixth Avenue. This allowed him to take on students and seriously begin drawing and painting the human figure from live models (Frye Art Museum).

Also involved politically was Oscar Edward Cesare, a draftsman, political cartoonist, and painter who created posters and drawings during World War I that were published in various periodicals, and re-published in the magazine Cartoons between 1915 and 1917. His "Remember the Bond," with a soldier caught in barbed wire, appeared in the New York Evening Post newspaper. Other war-time images include "Aid the Red Cross Here," "Bonds-Which?," "Loyalty Day," "The Spirit Goes Marching on," "The Strafers," and "A Year of This!" In 1913, Cesare's works hung in the New York City exhibition introducing modernism to America. After World War I, he traveled to the Soviet Union making a number of drawings of the Kremlin (Ask Art, Blue Book)

Gilbert Bundy was born in 1911 in Centralia, Illinois, the son of an oil company scout, and was brought up in several Oklahoma oil towns. When graduating high school in Kansas, he went to work for an engraving company. In 1929, Bundy headed for a career in New York and began to do cartoons for the old Life and Judge magazines. He was a combat artist sent with the Marines to the Pacific Islands war where he was exposed to the horrors of Iwo Jima and Tarawa, from which he never recovered. He committed suicide 12 years to the day after spending a night and a day among the dead and dying in a half track that took a direct hit from Japanese artillery (Giambarba).

Many of the illustrators at this time did magazine artwork for stories or advertisements. Arthur Dove began a very significant career as an illustrator at an early age. These appeared in Scribner's Monthly Magazine in a story entitled "The Fourth Juror" by M'Cready Sykes. Later, he was known primarily for his abstract paintings. His fine artwork was based on nature in order to reach the essence of the spirit that symbolized the force, organic growth and vitality of reality. Dove had a homespun side too, a folksy kind of buckeye humor that came out in the series of assemblages he did between 1924 and 1930, as "Portrait of Ralph Dusenberry," 1924. Robert Maguire was born Mcquire in 1921. Like many men of his generation, he served in World War II. After the war, he used his GI bill to study art at the Art Student's League where his instructor was Frank Reilly, an illustrator for most of the major magazines and advertising accounts

In this role Reilly would become possibly the most influential commercial artist of the last half of the 20th century. Reilly was the instructor who taught the many post war illustrators who studied at the Art Student's League. Maguire became best known for his covers for various noir fiction paperbacks with women and guns. They were beautiful, inviting and deadly. Maguire also did some of the major fiction covers from this period. Reilly distilled what he learned from working on murals as well as his own experience as an illustrator into a technical and conceptual approach (see right). It provided a sound foundation on which his students were able to develop their own style. And those styles defined genre illustration, especially in paperbacks (Comic Art Fans).

Illustrations started to look more progressive into the 1940s, and Al Parker was the artist who defined this look from the 1940s through the '60s. He developed an idealized reflection of babyboomers with a series of covers for the Ladies' Home Journal where the mother and daughter wore matching outfits and enjoyed life together. Millions of women followed his continually changing illustrations and design in the major magazines. His personal pictures used carefully selected props and to welcome a closer look. He also set trends, with his models depicted in the latest fashions (Illustration House).

Many illustrators, as artists often do, fall into their work. Arthur William Brown or "Brownie" as his artist friends called him, epitomizes the rule of "90% of life is just showing up" (Art Archives). A Canadian school drop out, he sketched while working on a steamer, and sold these to newspapers. With his earnings, he enrolled at the Art Student's League. When a friend got a job from the Saturday Evening Post to cover a circus, Brownie joined him. The Post liked the article and Brown's circus drawings. This relationship between publisher and artist lasted 40 years. Brown's illustrations concentrated on story art for Collier's, College Humor, Redbook, and Cosmopolitan.

Magazines and books gave illustrators much of their work. Virgil Finlay in the American Weekly was known for his work from 1938 to 1943. His illustrations appeared in sensationalistic magazines, where nothing was too out of the way for speculation and gossip or a good picture. Also, he is well-known for his science fiction artwork. Included were: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fantastic Novels Startling Stories, Super Science Stories, Amazing Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Argosy, and even a few comic books for DC. He continued to work for those titles that lasted into the 1950s. Readers and writers loved Finlay's work and wrote… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "American Illustrators" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

American Illustrators.  (2007, November 16).  Retrieved April 6, 2020, from

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"American Illustrators."  16 November 2007.  Web.  6 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"American Illustrators."  November 16, 2007.  Accessed April 6, 2020.