Designing the Famous Artists

Bradbury Thompson (1911–1995), the elegant American designer who made Westvaco Inspirations a design studio must-have, produced many unheralded things. Among his clients were the Famous Artists Schools, Inc., from Westport, Connecticut, for which he designed their annual reports. All Thompson’s work was typographically precise, and the 1963 annual report is no exception. But Thompson was also a storyteller, using whatever graphic and visual means were at his disposal.

The Famous Artists Schools (and the Famous Writers Schools) were prospering in 1963 . They employed as teachers some of the most famous illustrators, cartoonists, designers, and photographers. They were the top of the correspondence school (or Home Study) ladder. They were the precursor to what’s now called “distance learning.” For this annual report, Thompson composed full page grids with photographs of the leading names of the day. Let’s play a guessing game. How many of these artists can you recognize? (Note: If you get only one you’ll still be a winner.)

Although under different management, The Famous Artists School is still operating.

Hint: These are the famous illustrators. Norman Rockwell, Jon Whitcomb, Austin Briggs, Fred Ludekens, Robert Fawcett, Stevan Dohanos, George Giusti, Peter Helck, Al Parker, Ben Stahl, Harold Von Schmidt, Albert Dorne.

Hint: These are the Famous Cartoonists. Al Capp, Rube Goldberg, Virgil Partch, Willard Mullin, Dick Cavalli, ,Harry Haenigsen, Barney Tobey, Gurney Williams, Whitney Darrow Jr., Milton Caniff.

Hint: These are Famous Painters. Stuart Davis, Ernest Fiene, Fletcher Martin, Doris Lee, Ben Shahn, Adolf Dehn, Syd Solomon, Will Barnet, Dong Kignman, Arnold Blanch.

Bonus points. Hint: These are the famous writers. Bruce Catton, Faith Baldwin, John Caples, Bennett Cerf, Bergen Evans, Rudoff Flesch, Red Smith, Rod Serling, Mark Wiseman, Mignon G. Eberhart, J.D. Ratcliff, Max Shulman.

6 thoughts on “Designing the Famous Artists

  1. TomL

    I have my late dad’s binder set for the FA Cartooning course, and I still love paging through them. I spent many happy hours poring over them as a young boy, spellbound by the sketches and comic strips on their pages. Plus, naked lady in the Anatomy chapter!

  2. John Baeder

    For folks my age, yikes!, soon 74…all these magnificent folks were “our”, my, heroes, guides, inspiration, visual
    and literary spiritual leaders. Without signing up for the course, they all taught us each week with a new surprise,
    along with magical wonderment that still lingers and always will. Thank you for their well deserved tribute, Steve.

  3. pam pease

    Although I don’t recognize many of the faces, I do remember as a kid of 9 or 10 seeing the invitation–I believe it said “draw me!” or “can you draw this?” in one my parents’ magazines. I believe it was a side view of a man with a pipe. Of course, I submitted and received back an evaluation which seemed to portend a magical future!
    Readers, confess: how many of you entered? And is there an equivalent for today’s generation of budding creatives?