Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Collector of Images

At the ridiculous age of ten I was becoming a collector of images. I'm afraid I had little respect for archiving at that point. I would cut and clip shamelessly from periodicals—probably again ultimately saving images from total destruction. No one seemed to care back then what happened to printed material. It was all slated for the incinerator.

J.C. Leyendecker—1929

Gustaf Tenggren—1930

Mead Schaeffer?—1936



Not that a lot of people would say that illustration in general was 'good art'. Illustration was, and still is in many quarters, the bastard of the arts, comic art in particular. I don't care, it doesn't matter one whit what people think, as long as it still gets published, labels of good or bad don't matter. Let each person decide for themselves.

But imagine this young boy that I was, searching always searching for images, not greedily, but adventurously. Constantly perusing them, to step into their frame of reference to let his imagination wander. I was a reader, as well, don't get me wrong. It was the combination of word and image that I fed on. But the image called for me, so that even with my eyes closed I could envision not just what the artist portrayed, but to the left of it or the right of it, or before or after. In the comics, that is what is termed 'between the panels'. It is up to the viewer to fill in the missing details. Obviously I was not the only person to do so.

These years later, I find it funny to think of myself, so young, and so dedicated to the pursuit of this particular happiness. And it was not a passive indulgence. From it, I learned to draw and paint and illustrate and cartoon, and it became my life's career. I have not had a job since I was twenty that was not art related, and for the last 30 years I have been a full-time freelance artist.


Felix said...

You have some more information about that Baumgartner? Never heard of him.
Anyway thanks for the beautiful post.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

I've been looking for anything by or about Baumgartner. So far, no luck.

Annie said...

I've just read this post for the first time. I'm impressed by your ten year old self, and your ability as an adult to remember that time, and how you felt about the art you were viewing and saving. I understand even more why it is important to you that a golden age of illustration return. Think about the lost opportunities for children who are never exposed to beautiful composition and illustration. Children's picture books are great for young children, but older children and young adults (as well as adults, of course) benefit from the same kind of immersion. I'm sure you were drawn to art through an innate affinity, but still, the art needed to be there so you could respond to it.