I never met the illustrator Noah MacMillan, but there exists the proverbial six degrees of separation between us. In 2020 his drawing was among those that Poster House & PRINT inspired through the #CombatCovid PSA campaign. It was not the usual depiction of the eerie/mnemonic COVID-19 virus. Rather it depicted a man sitting upright in a chair, swamped in a torrent of explosive color emanating from a cell phone, engulfing his entire head. Its title, “Combat COVID-19 by taking responsibility for your health—physical and mental,” struck a chord. The image stuck in my mind.
Regrettably, I had no chance, until last night, to read an email received on Nov. 1 from the artist’s father that read:
Dear Mr. Heller
My son, a former SVA student, Noah MacMillan, passed in July.
This week a USPS stamp he illustrated was announced. His work while at SVA was featured in your Daily Heller column and in CA’s Illustration Annual. … Due to the pandemic and then the diagnosis he had to drop out of SVA after one year.
We have created a scholarship for the high school student portfolio program at the undergraduate school he attended. Any assistance … would be appreciated.
Included in the email was a link to this story in The Washington Post: “On July 31, Noah died of colon cancer in the Takoma Park, MD, home he grew up in. He was 33. Last week, the U.S. Postal Service announced that a stamp featuring one of his illustrations will be released next year. It celebrates Noah’s other love: soccer.”
My son is 33. I can only … (scratch that); I don’t want to imagine the sense of loss. But I do want to share news of the Noah Philip MacMillan Portfolio Plus Scholarship that will support a high school art student in the summer program at Washington University in St. Louis, which was a pivotal early step for him and his development as an artist. A fitting memorial to launch a new life in art.