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  • Russ Ramsey

The World Called them Illustrators

In today’s Art Wednesday, let’s look at some famous illustrators from the 1900’s. All illustrators are artists, but not all artists are illustrators.


Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post, 1953


Illustrators are artists who create images for publications, commercial products, and specialized fields. Sometimes they illustrate their own work and becomes beloved.


Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Book Cover


Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell’s inspiration, illustrated Saturday Evening Post covers, depicting America in ways that would inspire citizens during times of war and depression. He also illustrated propaganda, like this piece.


J.C. Leyendecker, War Bonds, 1918


Illustrators depict, explain, and clarify. Their work is not necessarily to raise questions, but to answer them. Some writers, like the poet William Blake, illustrate their own work.


William Blake, Nebuchadnezzar, 1795


In the early 1900’s Edward Hopper worked as an illustrator. After his death, a collection of his work as an illustrator was shown at the Norman Rockwell museum.


Edward Hopper, Men Seated at Cafe Table, 1906


The work of illustrators, when separated from the thing it is advertising, is often intriguing and compelling as a stand-alone piece. This one, for a book called “Alone”, makes you wonder about the story.


Al Parker, Alone, c. 1950


Some illustrators are better known as writers, but for the illustrator/writer, the two disciplines usually work together and hold each other up. Consider Maurice Sendak, who wrote and illustrated “Where the Wild Things Are.”


Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are


Andy Warhol was an illustrator before he rose to fame as a fine artist. The work he is best known for (soup cans) reflects his instinct as an illustrator. This Warhol illustration was printed on the cover of Vogue in 1984.


Andy Warhol, Vogue, 1984


Norman Rockwell was certainly one of the kings of illustration in the 1900’s. I’ll wrap this Art Wednesday with one of my favorites, from the Saturday Evening Post, August 30, 1947.


Norman Rockwell, Going and Coming, 1947



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