Looking at Illustration: Arthur Getz

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I’ve been looking through the illustrations of Arthur Getz, one of my favorite New Yorker cover artists. Getz painted 213 covers for the iconic magazine between 1938 and 1988. In addition to illustration work, he painted cityscapes and landscapes – ‘fine art’ sold through galleries – although he sometimes signed them with his middle name, Kimmig, because at the time a fine artist was not supposed to cross the line into commercial art.

A particular favorite of mine is his cover from 1957:

Art by Arthur Getz. Prints available through https://condenaststore.com/art/arthur+getz

The moment it captures is utterly American, isn’t it? To the left, the bustling, spangly city with silhouetted crowds in frenetic motion, and in the foreground the relaxed parking attendant, contentedly oblivious to the high life a few blocks behind.

The skill and techniques of this artist make the painting especially appealing to me. The blazing city lights in the distance are warm, but it’s cold moonlight fluorescing down on the garage attendant – that’s the opposite of what you’re taught in painting class! Warm colors are supposed to come forward and cools recede – but Mr. Getz makes this inversion work beautifully. The covers of the magazine our fellow’s reading are slightly brightened with the reflected light bouncing off the pavement – reflected light is a detail that a  master’s eye notes, and novices often overlook. The splashes of neon red far off in the city are balanced by that rusty red wall to our protagonist’s left; there’s even the faintest red haze in the air above the cars in the garage, a delicate touch to offset all that chill October air.

And our attendant’s pose, balancing on the chair – another master stroke.  Let me explain: when you draw a standing figure and you want it to look steady, not tipping over, you draw it so the supersternal notch – that’s the central notch between your left & right collarbone – is directly over the inner ankle of the leg bearing the weight of the body – this makes the figure looks solid.  Well, Mr. Getz has this gent perfectly balanced: if you imagine where his supersternal notch is, and draw a line straight down, it’s directly over the spot where the chair leg bearing the man’s weight touches the pavement. This acrobatic bystander is not going to tip over!

The contrasts in tone all around our nonchalant hero seal the deal for me. After your eyes take in the whole scene, where does your attention go? To the crisp lightning-white page edges of that magazine and that tiny cusp of face and finger illuminated by the October moon. That’s intentional – they are painted with a razor edge and surrounded by blacks and neutral grays to draw your gaze like a pinpoint. The same goes for the swatch of city on the left, the contrast is so high between the yellows and blacks that you can’t not look at them – but even though those marks are skillful, they are vague, to give an impression of buildings and lights. The painting strokes in and around our parked friend’s figure, instead, are descriptive, deliberate and masterful.

There’s sometimes a bit of friction between illustrators and fine artists, over whether illustrations deserve the same esteem that framed paintings are given.  If you ask me, this Garage Nocturne by Arthur Getz could hang in a museum next to Hopper’s Nighthawks any day.

My Cartoon Published

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I am thrilled to announce that a cartoon I drew and submitted to the prestigious New Yorker magazine back in March has been published in this week’s issue, October 1, 2018.

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a21844

“Sir, we’re getting ready to land–I’m going to need you to slide that under your seat.”

I started reading and chuckling at New Yorker cartoons in high school when my dad introduced its unparalleled humor to me. He and I shared many hours discussing our favorite gags and cartoonists, and, while Dad did land a great cartoon one time in The Saturday Evening Post, he never made it into Eustace Tilley’s grand library. He hoped someday I would. Dad passed away 8 years ago but I have the uncanny feeling he’s been pulling some strings.

Sketches from 'The Wind in the Willows'

I’m reading the classic children’s story by Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows, and feel compelled to sketch the book’s abundantly delightful characters. Here’s pencil sketches of Rat busily composing his poetry, and Badger leading Mole and Rat through his warren, after their near-disaster in the late night snowstorm.

More sketches to come from the thoroughly charming world of Mr. Grahame.

Cartoons for Two Business Greeting Cards

Every year I draw a black/white New Yorker-style cartoon for ProActive Performance and for Lennon’s Small Jobs, both located here in PA, for their holiday greetings to their clients.

Jim Shute of ProActive Performance sends his cards to clients for the Thanksgiving holiday – he feels it’s a perfectly appropriate time to send his thanks to customers for their support all year, and also he knows this way his card will arrive on his clients’ desks well before the Christmas card rush and stand out a bit. Jim always gives me some themes and buzzwords that are current in his business, and together we create a concept & caption. This year’s gag involved an economic term set to the scene of the first Thanksgiving:

I do a New Year’s postcard for Mary Lennon of Lennon’s Small Jobs, and have drawn penguin gags for her company for a number of years. The gag always refers to one of the many common tasks she is called to do in her home maintenance business.

It’s a nice way to remind her customers that is is open for business, and the postcard format makes it easy for her clients to tape it to the refrigerator so her phone number is always handy. And black/white postcards are relatively inexpensive to print, so it makes an affordable and effective promotional item.

Two New Year's Business Greeting Cards

I illustrated New Year’s cards for two businesses to mail to their clients, and both asked for caricatures of their staff in the artwork. These businesses feel it is a nice way for their customers to put a face to the voice they hear on the phone when they call; and since the cards are drawn, they are a bit more fun and even whimsical than a photo would be. (I’ve also gotten comments that my drawings make people look younger than they are in real life, which everybody likes!)

The first was for LifeTime Asset Management in Raleigh, NC. They wanted their staff toasting the New Year at a party, so i first pencilled in a rough composition of the 9 figures raiding glasses.

I tightened that up and drew specific faces in, and the company logo on the balloons, for a better rough.

I printed off a copy of that & colored it in roughly for the color comp, which I sent them for approval.

Once I got the ok I traced the drawing onto illustration board and started painting it in – I snapped this photo below while I was still laying in the basic colors.

And here is the completed art, with celebratory confetti added in, which appeared on the front of their card.

The second New Years card was for Kohlhepp Investment Advisors here in PA. They are a family-run business and everyone has a great sense of humor – if you look at past Kohlhepp cards on my blog you’ll see they’ve had me draw the team in many funny, unique situations. This year did not disappoint – with the bullish economy they decided on the great concept of the whole team running with the bulls! I sent them two very rough sketches, asking if the two women in the firm want to be right in there with the bulls or not – they answered of course they do!

I tightened up the drawing –

and did a rough color sketch

They requested Ed Sr. to have a more active pose on the bull, so I changed that, then drew it on illustration board in prisma pencil, painted in acrylic washes, and added some dust clouds in chalk, for the finished art.

'Tech Gals' Mugs

My ‘Tech Gals’ illustration is now available on mugs – a cute gift for any modern woman who’s always busy but never far from her technology!

The photos below show how the art wraps around the entire mug. The title shown on the mug has been changed to ‘Tech Gals.’ Please email me on my Contact page for pricing and personalization.

Repeat the Sounding Joy

I wish all my friends a warm and joyous Christmas – a Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends too! I hope everyone’s holidays are filled with music.

And here’s a little music for you – if you’d like to see a brief holiday animation I drew a while back, click HERE. Make sure you have the sound on, to hear the music!

On the New Yorker site

As promised yesterday, if you click HERE you can see my “Daily” Cartoon on the New Yorker website.

We have family coming here for dinner today – so much to be thankful for! Here’s another seasonal cartoon of mine below, drawn for a business greeting card – wishing everyone a warm and happy Thanksgiving!

(c) Pat Achilles

My New Yorker ‘Daily’ Cartoon

Update: HERE is the link to today’s cartoon – take a look!

In addition to the New Yorker’s weekly (yes, weekly) print magazine, in circulation since 1925, the iconic publication also posts a Daily Cartoon on the homepage of its website, https://www.newyorker.com/ under the heading The Latest.

I’m thrilled that a gag of mine was chosen to be the Daily Cartoon for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2019. I apologize that I can’t post it until it’s live – but as soon as it pops up I’ll put a link here. I wrote about my other New Yorker cartoons here and here.

In the mean time, I’ll share this cartoon from my archives, which has been pretty popular with singers and choir directors. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!