Category: Satirical
  1. 12

    Aug 2014

    Charles Dana Gibson (1867 – 1944)

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    Today’s dose of inspiration is from the acclaimed American illustrator, Charles Dana Gibson, whom is best known for his emblematic creation The Gibson Girl.

    1867, baby Gibson is born to a creative and wealthy family. A head-start that an ambitious young Gibson would use as a springboard. At the age of eight, after watching his father, he started cutting silhouettes and by twelve he was selling them. By his mid-teens, after dabbling with sculpture under the guise of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, he picked up a penchant for pen and ink.

    Soon after he enrolled in an Art Students League, but had to leave at the age of eighteen due to family financial troubles. Out of school and looking for work, Mr Gibson ventured unsuccessfully to get a job. However, in 1886 he managed to sell one of his illustrations to LIFE magazine. A then newly established magazine, attempting to compete with the likes of Puck and Judge.

    The public took a strong liking to Mr Gibson’s satirical portrayal of high society. So as his popularity rose, so to did his importance to the magazine. Going from a salary of $33 to $185 in just three months. Obviously with such popularity Mr Gibson was soon approached by other magazines including Scribner’s, Century, Harper’s, and Time (then named Tid-Bits).

    In 1890, he started drawing The Gibson Girl. With only a slim argument to the contrary, it is widely accepted his wife, Irene Langhorne Gibson was the basis and model for her. The Gibson Girl’s importance as a public figure cannot be slighted. The youthful Gibson Girl was the visual embodiment of a new feminine ideal, described at the time as the “New Woman”. She was confident and glamorous, from her creation up until World War I, she set the standard for fashion and decorum.

    The success of Mr Gibson’s girl was phenomenal, his demand and fees were so great that at the height of his career his annual salary had reached $75,000. In 1904 he had even signed a four-year contract with Condé Nast to produce 100 illustrations for the sum of $100,000.

    On top of his own personal illustrative successes Mr Gibson founded the Society of Illustrators. He helped the war effort by assembling a group of illustrators (including James Montgomery Flagg, J.C. Leyendecker, and Howard Chandler Christy) to set up The Division of Pictorial Publicity whom produced all those famous wonderful and patriotic posters. He, along with some other illustrators, writers, and staff members bought LIFE magazine.

    In his retirement he finally put down the pen and ink and picked up oil painting. In 1944, at the age of 77, suffered a heart attack and died a few weeks later.

    Charles Dana Gibson’s importance and impact, though praised at the time, nowadays does not get the attention it duly deserves. His skills along with his tenacity were, and probably still are, unrivaled. You would be hard pressed to think of an another illustrator whom has had equal cultural and financial success. To see more of Mr Gibson’s work I strongly suggest picking up a copy of The Gibson Girl and Her America.

  2. 13

    Mar 2014

    Gemma Correll

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    Gemma Correll is a UK based illustrator, know for her guileless style. A style that has garnered her over 236,000 followers on facebook, and clients including Hallmark, The New York Times, Chronicle Books and The Observer. Correll has also published four books to date, her latest being, A Pug’s Guide to Dating.

    Though her style does come under criticism, combining mature subject matters with crude drawings is a tried-and-true technique. One of the most famous and shining examples of this is Maus by Art Spiegelman. Another interesting element of Correll’s style is her regular use of just three colours; black, white and red. A very powerful colour scheme, with strong cultural meaning, that is more often used in design. So yes, Correll’s illustrations can be mistaken as childish, but then that would disregard the maturity and intuition involved to produce them.

    You can find more of Correll’s work on her website, and don’t forget to check out her Daily Diaries.

  3. 19

    Feb 2014

    Kate Beaton

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    Canadian comics artist Kate Beaton is a best known for her hugely popular webcomic Hark! A Vagrant. Born in Nova Scotia, Beaton studied history in New Brunswick. Her interest in history, and historic figures form a re-occuring theme in her work. As exemplified in her self-published book Never Learn Anything from History, which won her a Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent in 2009. Continuing the award momentum, Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant won the 2011 Harvey Award for Best Online Comics Work, and she topped that in 2012 winning three Harveys, for Humor, Online Work, and Best Cartoonist.

    For those of you (myself included) whom like your comics a little more on the tangible side, you can pick yourself up a Hark! A Vagrant book.

  4. 15

    Nov 2013

    R. S. Sherriffs (1906 – 1960)

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    Robert Stewart Sherriffs was born in Arbroath, Scotland. He attended Edinburgh College of Art where he studied heraldic design along with fine art. Just before turning 21, Sherriffs moved to London.
    He found work in advertising studios, however grew tiered of the tedious nature of the work so he began sending examples of caricatures to magazine. He got his break when the weekly tabloid magazine, Bystander, published his caricature of actor John Barrymore (yep, Drew Barrymore’s granddad). The illustration caught the eye of Beverley Nichols, who commissioned Sherriffs to produce a series of portraits for his column in The Sketch.

    This exposure led to further work in magazines including Theatre World, Pall Mall, and The Strand Magazine. He also regularly contributed to The Radio Times and later on Punch magazine. Sherriffs also illustrated a number of books, including The Life and Death of Tamburlaine the Great, and Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The former was comended by one of Sherriffs important influences, Edmund Dulac.

    There is a sad turn of events to Sherriffs’ career. He had intended to bring together some of his personal drawings for an exhibition. However, after being diagnosed with cancer, he set fire to all his work prior to being admitted to hospital. Sherriffs died at the age of 54.

    I was introduced to R. S. Sherriffs by the current exhibition at The Cartoon Museum, Age of Glamour: R. S. Sherriffs’ Stars of Stage and Screen. There were various pieces including portraits, set, and costume design. Throughout the whole exhibition I had my jaw wide open. Sherriffs is a master. His control of the brush is some of the best I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand. His lines perfectly sweep thin to thick. His tones are one flat colour. Throughout the exhibition I can not remember seeing any cover-ups or mistakes. The first thing I wanted to do when I left the exhibition was buy a big book full of his work, but alas, no such luck. The closest thing published of a body of Sherriffs’ work is Sherriffs at the Cinema, which solely concentrates on his famous caricatures.

    I feel some of his previous printed material do not do his illustrations justice. The last book of his work was published in the 1980s. Sherriffs’ work desperately demands a modern, more befitting, bounded showcase to be fully appreciated. (ahem, publishers please take note)

    You can find more information on R. S. Sherriffs on the National Portrait Gallery, Chris Beetles Gallery, and the British Cartoon archive websites.

    Age of Glamour is on until 24th December 2013, and if you can, I definitely advise you to check it out.

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