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My 15

APRIL 18, 2013
It's been entertaining and edifying to read others' lists of influences. I hope that my indulgent speculation kindles positive reflections in you and the knowledge that we stand on the shoulders of so many others. And, that they are not so different than us.
I grew up reading my older brothers' comic books and Mad Magazines. I watched afternoon monster and war movies. And I was always drawing and these things were my early influences. Art has been a talent. I always stood out in grammar school and high school. I was  a good student and tried all Art materials and styles. I hung out with smart kids and art kids. I was one of the art stars. It may have been my 18th birthday; my stepsister gave me this book (I don't know what possessed her but it has always been a a touchstone):
But I went to art school. I didn't study illustration at all and never considered it a future job. I think my education, in retrospect, was scattershot which might reflect the time: the late 70's and early 80's. I studied fine art: painting, printmaking, sculpture. Presumably, options and a lifestyle would flow from this preoccupation. I worked college jobs designing posters, ads and editorial cartoons for the student newspapers (I'd also done this in high school). I was inspired by Mort Drucker, Bill Mauldin, Thomas Oliphant, Ranan Lurie, Thomas Nast, Rembrandt etchings. One-color offset reproduction maybe with color overlays done in rubylith… this was my graphic universe.
I wondered if Milton Glaser rubbed down his own Letraset type. I was clueless about graphic design, illustration and fine art. What's sort of funny to me is that in addition to Artforum magazine and fine art coffee table books and monographs, I would prowl the university library and check out old Graphis Annuals too.
So, I feel like I've had several "careers" with their attendant influences; …any more than 15! And since it's been a week or so since Yuko issued the challenge, my list has blossomed out of control to where I feel like a cloud and I wonder where the influences end and the self becomes defined. And I wonder also, who's wagging whom? Which is the tail and which is the dog? Should I add things to my list that make me look sophisticated or add idols that confirm something that I've sought in myself? …See, I'm a mess …!
But I want to leave you a list. It seems very slippery however. Some are role models for me, Some are etched in my visual memory. Some influence in a negative sort of way--I go in the opposite direction. Some I simply love and are part of my ever-growing artistic bouquet. They illuminate values that go to the core of what it means to make Art: to be fearless, to be curious, to provoke and to soothe. Some influences are laborers in the same vineyard, just a little further ahead of where I am and where I hope to arrive someday:
  1. Ito Jakuchu: Japanese artist
  2. Kazumasa Nagai: Japanese graphic designer & illustrator
  3. Benjamin Chaud: French illustrator
  4. Milton Glaser
  5. Seymour Chwast
  6. Saul Steinberg
  7. André François: French illustrator, designer
  8. Tomi Ungerer
  9. Morris Graves: American painter
  10. Disney's Pinnochio: backgrounds painted by Gustav Tenggren
  11. Jean Dubuffet (and other examples of Art Brut and Outsider Art
  12. Etienne Delassert: editorial and children's book illustrator
  13. Leo Lionni: designer and children's book illustrator
  14. Joseph Beuys: German artist
  15. Honoré Daumier: French painter and editorial artist
  16. etc.
Thanks for reading this.
Morris Graves
Ito Jakuchu
Hokusai Manga
Saul Steinberg
Gustav Tenggren more
Kazumasa Nagai
Joseph Beuys
André François (obituary)
So many more great images…