Wishing Lewis Carroll a happy January birthday! His Wonderland has inspired numerous illustrators, including Rene Cloke, whose unique interpretation we put on a greeting card!
This month, we're celebrating the imaginative worlds crafted by J.R.R. Tolkien, the surreal flair of Étienne Delessert, and the detailed artistry of Gustave Doré. Dive into the playful universes of Remy Charlip, experience the Roaring Twenties with John Held Jr., and explore the Australian bush through the eyes of Dorothy Wall and May Gibbs. Get cozy with Clement Hurd, meet Hugh Lofting's communicative animals, and enjoy wordless magic from Raymond Briggs and Brian Wildsmith. Embark on a visual journey around the world with A.M. Cassandre, meet the gentle friends illustrated by Rosemary Wells, and savor the sweet storytelling of Bill Peet. Happy January birthday to these authors and illustrators!
J.R.R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973) was an English writer, philologist, and university professor, best known for his epic fantasy works, including The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954-1955). While he is celebrated primarily for his literary contributions, he was also a talented illustrator! His illustrations, often whimsical and intricate, brought his fantastical realms to life. His drawings, maps, and designs provided readers with a glimpse into the richly imagined landscapes of Middle-earth. His dual talents as a wordsmith and artist have solidified Tolkien's place as one of the most influential figures in the fantasy genre!
Isn't this spectacular? It's Conversation With Smaug, a scene from The Hobbit, painted by Tolkien in 1937.
Étienne Delessert, born on February 26, 1941, is a Swiss-born American illustrator and author renowned for his significant contributions to children's literature and visual arts. He first gained recognition in the 1960s for his avant-garde approach to children's books, breaking away from traditional styles and introducing a fresh, vibrant aesthetic. Delessert's art often explores surreal and dreamlike realms, captivating young readers and adults alike with its whimsical charm. Over the years, he has collaborated with esteemed authors and garnered numerous accolades, solidifying his place as a pioneer in the field of illustrated literature!
Set your eye(s) on this page from Stories 1, 2, 3, 4 by Eugène Ionesco, illustrated by Étienne Delessert. Originally published in France as four separate books between 1969 and 1976, it's now beloved in many languages!
Gustave Doré (January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883) born in Strasbourg, France, was a prolific 19th-century artist and illustrator. With a staggering output of over 10,000 illustrations, his impact on literature and visual storytelling is immeasurable. His mastery is particularly evident in his iconic illustrations for literary classics such as Dante's Divine Comedy, Cervantes' Don Quixote, and the Bible. What sets him apart is not only the sheer quantity but also the innovative process he employed in reproducing his works. Using an electrotype process with cylinder presses, he enabled large-scale print runs, facilitating simultaneous publication in multiple countries. This groundbreaking method allowed Doré's captivating and detailed illustrations to reach a global audience!
The level of detail in this grayscale image is extraordinary! It's a depiction of the Fall of Satan from the 1866 edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost.
Remy Charlip (January 10, 1929 – August 14, 2012) was a multifaceted American artist, dancer, choreographer, and children's book author renowned for his imaginative contributions to the arts. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his career encompassed diverse creative pursuits. As a founding member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, he made significant contributions to the world of modern dance in the 1950s. Transitioning to the realm of children's literature, Charlip became acclaimed for his whimsical and innovative picture books, such as Fortunately (1964). His unique artistic style and ability to blend movement with storytelling set his work apart, earning him prestigious awards, including a Caldecott Honor. Beyond the literary world, he continued to explore interdisciplinary collaborations, showcasing his boundless creativity!
Go on a whimsical and peculiar journey within the pages of Remy Charlip's Arm in Arm (1969).
John Held Jr. (January 10, 1889 – March 2, 1958) was an influential American cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his iconic depictions of the Jazz Age during the 1920s. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Held's artistic talent emerged early, and by his teenage years, he was already a successful illustrator. His witty and lively illustrations became synonymous with the flapper culture and the carefree spirit of the Roaring Twenties. Held's work adorned the covers of popular magazines such as Life and Vanity Fair, contributing to the visual language of the era. He skillfully captured the vivacity of the Jazz Age, portraying the exuberant dance, fashion, and social dynamics of the time. Beyond his work in magazines, Held also authored and illustrated several books. His distinctive style, characterized by bold lines and expressive characters, left an indelible mark on American visual culture.
It doesn't get more 1920s than illustrating the cover of a 1922 edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's book Tales of the Jazz Age!
Dorothy Wall (January 12, 1894 – January 21, 1942) was an Australian author and illustrator, best known for creating the beloved character Blinky Bill, an iconic koala in Australian children's literature! Born in New Zealand, she moved to Australia in her early twenties, where she began her career as an artist and cartoonist. In 1933, she introduced Blinky Bill in her first book, Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian, which quickly gained popularity for its endearing characters and whimsical adventures. Her illustrations brought the Australian bush to life, captivating young readers and establishing Blinky Bill as a cultural phenomenon. Despite her untimely death in a car accident at the age of 47, Wall's legacy lives on through the enduring appeal of Blinky Bill, who remains a cherished character in Australian children's literature.
Blinky Bill stories have not been out of print since the first copy was published in 1933! Here he is, meeting all his new friends in his debut book, Blinky Bill: The Quaint Little Australian.
Clement Hurd (January 12, 1908 – February 5, 1988) was an American illustrator and children's book author, celebrated for his significant contributions to the world of picture books. Born in New York City, Hurd's artistic talents became evident early on, and he studied painting and illustration at Yale University. He gained widespread recognition for collaborating with author Margaret Wise Brown on the classic children's book Goodnight Moon, published in 1947. Hurd's distinctive illustrations, characterized by bold lines and vibrant colors, played a crucial role in the book's enduring success. His creative partnership with Brown extended to other well-loved titles, such as The Runaway Bunny (1942). Clement Hurd's artistic legacy is marked by his ability to create visually engaging art to compliment timeless stories.
Bunnies are always cozy in the illustrations of Clement Hurd.
Hugh Lofting (January 14, 1886 – September 26, 1947) was an English author and illustrator best known for creating the beloved character Dr. Dolittle. Born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, his early career saw him serving in the British Army during World War I. Inspired by his experiences, he began writing letters to his children, featuring the character Dr. Dolittle, a whimsical doctor with the ability to communicate with animals. These imaginative tales eventually evolved into a series of successful children's books, starting with The Story of Doctor Dolittle in 1920. his storytelling prowess and charming illustrations endeared Dr. Dolittle to readers worldwide, making the series a timeless classic. His work was not only entertaining but also marked by a deep respect for animals and a gentle sense of humor.
Hugh Lofting's style of drawing is simple and seems to have been dashed off quickly, which matches the simple charm of the stories. This is his 1922 cover of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.
May Gibbs (January 17, 1877 – November 27, 1969) was an acclaimed Australian children's book author and illustrator, renowned for her enchanting and iconic creations in the world of literature. Born in England, she migrated to Australia at a young age and developed a deep love for the country's flora and fauna. Her most famous works, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and Gumnut Babies, were first published in 1918 and introduced readers to the charming world of anthropomorphic bush creatures known as gumnuts and gum-blossoms. Her enchanting illustrations and whimsical storytelling captured the imaginations of generations of Australian children, creating enduring characters that have become integral to the country's cultural heritage. Her legacy extends beyond literature, as Gibbs' dedication to conservation and her artistic contributions have left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Australia.
Gumnuts are actually the (non-edible) fruits of eucalyptus and Gumnut Babies are tiny fairy-like creatures that live in plants, like eucalyptus, that are indigenous to Australia.
Raymond Briggs, born on January 18, 1934, is a highly acclaimed British author and illustrator, celebrated for his contributions to children's literature and graphic novels. Hailing from London, he gained widespread recognition for his innovative and emotionally resonant works. His most famous book, The Snowman, published in 1978, remains a timeless classic, enchanting readers with its wordless narrative and evocative illustrations. He has a remarkable ability to explore complex themes through his art, as demonstrated in works like Ethel & Ernest (1998), a graphic novel based on his parents' lives. Over the years, he has received numerous awards for his outstanding contributions to the world of illustration and storytelling.
Raymond Briggs is skilled at telling stories with no words, like in his ever-popular, The Snowman!
Brian Wildsmith (January 22, 1930 – August 31, 2016) was a distinguished British illustrator and children's book author, widely acclaimed for his vibrant and imaginative artistic style. Born in Yorkshire, England, his career in illustration began with formal art education and later evolved into a prolific and influential body of work. His picture books, such as ABC (1962) and The Animal World (1967), are celebrated for their vivid, richly colored illustrations that captivate young readers and adults alike. his artistic talents earned him international recognition, and his books have been translated into numerous languages. Throughout his career, he received prestigious awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal. Wildsmith's enduring legacy lies in his ability to infuse joy and wonder into the world of children's literature through his visually stunning and culturally resonant illustrations.
In all of Brian Wildsmith's books, the illustrations are as crucial as the text, as evident in this highly detailed page from The Animal World.
Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (January 24, 1901 – June 17, 1968), known by his pseudonym A.M. Cassandre
, was a French graphic designer, painter, and typographer who significantly influenced the world of 20th-century visual arts. Born in Ukraine, he moved to Paris at a young age and quickly gained recognition for his innovative graphic design work. In the 1920s and 1930s, he became renowned for his iconic Art Deco posters, often featuring bold geometric shapes and striking typography. His groundbreaking designs for posters, advertisements, and logos, including his work for companies like Dubonnet and Normandie, showcased his mastery of form and composition. His artistic versatility extended to painting and stage design, further establishing him as a leading figure in modern design.
This iconic poster, crafted by A.M. Cassandre in 1935, showcases the majestic prow of an ocean liner belonging to the French Line of Compagnie Générale Transatlantique.
Rosemary Wells, born on January 29, 1943, is a highly esteemed American author and illustrator, celebrated for her prolific contributions to children's literature. Hailing from New York City, she has created an extensive and beloved body of work that includes over 120 picture books and early readers! Her notable creations include the popular Max and Ruby series, featuring the mischievous Max and his patient sister Ruby, which has been adapted into a successful animated television show. Her' distinctive artistic style, characterized by expressive characters and warm, vibrant illustrations, has garnered her widespread acclaim and numerous awards. With a career spanning several decades, Wells continues to enchant young readers with her timeless stories that often explore themes of family, friendship, and everyday adventures.
It's a birthday crossover for A.A. Milne and Rosemary Wells! Milne's When We Were Very Young, first published in 1924, remains a familiar and cherished work in children's literature. Now, in 2021, a delightful new edition illustrated by Rosemary Wells is here!
Bill Peet (January 29, 1915 – May 11, 2002) stands as a luminary in both the animation industry and children's literature! Born in Grandview, Indiana, he began his illustrious career at Walt Disney Productions in the 1930s, contributing significantly to the classic films we all know. Notably, he emerged as the sole developer of animated features One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone, showcasing his exceptional talent by creating all the storyboards for these Disney classics—an unparalleled achievement in the realm of animation! In the 1960s, he transitioned to writing and illustrating children's books, many originated as bedtime tales he shared with his children. This personal touch and the vivid imagination that fueled his animations resonated in his books, like Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent (1975), making them beloved classics!
Bill Peet's The Caboose Who Got Loose (1971) is a beautiful and sweet tale, both written and illustrated by the talented artist himself.
In a month jam-packed with creative birthdays, we’ve focused here on illustrators. But here’s a quick nod to some literary heavyweights whose stories have inspired some seriously stunning art. Happy January birthday to Jack London, renowned for his masterpieces like The Call of the Wild
and White Fang
. Also celebration-worthy is A.A. Milne for bringing Winnie-the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood crew into our lives. And of course, cheers to Lewis Carroll, the intellectual who gave us the frequently illustrated world of Alice in Wonderland
. Cheers to these literary greats!