Illustrators Born in October
An appropriately seasonal birthday cake for these October-born illustrators!
October, known for falling leaves, pumpkin spice, and Halloween, is also the birth month of some remarkable illustrators. Join us in celebrating the worlds of Gene Zion, Rene Cloke, George Barbier, Lois Lenski, Harold Darling, Barry Moser, and Edward Ardizzone as we explore their autumnal birthdays and artistic legacies!
Rene Cloke (October 4, 1904 – October 1, 1995) was a self-taught British illustrator whose name is synonymous with classic children's literature. Her artistic talent was so versatile that if you can name a classic tale, she likely illustrated it! Not only did her delightful art grace numerous storybooks, but she was also a prolific greeting card illustrator. It's fitting that we continue to print some of her work on greeting cards, ensuring her enchanting art lives on in mailboxes! During WWII, Cloke's artistic skills took on a different role as she worked as a tracer, contributing to the production of maps of enemy camps and installations from photographs taken by the Royal Air Force. Her legacy spans from beloved children's books to wartime contributions, making her a truly versatile artist!
Rene Cloke's whimsical and heartwarming illustrations often featured adorable anthropomorphic animals. But is there a term for when an animal exhibits characteristics resembling a boat?
Gene Zion (October 5, 1913 – December 5, 1975) was a notable American author and illustrator known for his contributions to children's literature. Alongside his wife, Margaret Bloy Graham, a literary creative in her own right, Zion formed a prominent creative partnership. They found themselves in the company of another renowned couple in the field, H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey, the imaginative forces behind Curious George, who introduced them to the vibrant New York media scene. Notably, Zion received a Caldecott Honor in 1951 for his first book, All Falling Down. His impact endures in the world of children's literature, enchanting readers through his captivating stories and illustrations.
The first of many Harry books, "Harry the Dirty Dog" (1956), quickly became a classic. It's earned a spot on the National Education Association's "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" list!
George Barbier (October 16, 1882 – March 16, 1932), a true visionary artist, left an indelible mark on the world of art and fashion during his brief but brilliant life. Best known for his haute couture fashion illustrations, he didn't stop at clothing design; his creative genius extended to theater and ballet costumes, illustrated books, and even ventures into jewelry, glass, and wallpaper design. Notably, his eloquent essays and numerous articles graced the prestigious fashion magazine, Gazette du Bon Ton. Barbier's influence wasn't confined to the world of fashion; he collaborated with and lauded fellow Art Deco powerhouse, Erté, working together on designs for the Folies Bergère. He also led a group of artists emerging from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, affectionately dubbed by Vogue as "The Knights of the Bracelet" in admiration of their chic, flamboyant demeanor, and distinctive fashion sense. Sadly, Barbier's life was cut short, but his legacy remains a testament to the height of Art Deco's elegance and innovation, with his work adorning museums and galleries worldwide.
Selecting a single artwork from George Barbier's opulent portfolio was no small task, but I've chosen one that perfectly captures the autumn spirit, aligning with his birth month: this piece is from Falbalas et Fanfreluches (translated as Ruffles and Frills), part of a series of pochoir print portfolios published between 1922 and 1926. These works catalog a realm of liaisons and romances, often infused with a touch of mild sensuality and humor.
Lois Lenski (October 14, 1893 – September 11, 1974) was a prolific American author and illustrator whose artistic legacy resides within the pages of numerous beloved children's books. Her talents extended beyond just visual storytelling; she possessed a remarkable ability to capture the essence of the American experience, particularly that of rural life and childhood. Lenski's books, which often revolved around everyday young protagonists, provided a window into the diverse landscapes of the United States, from the Appalachian Mountains to the American Southwest. Her keen observations of children's lives, coupled with her dedication to authentically portraying different regional cultures, helped her earn Newbery Honors and the prestigious Newbery Medal. As a children's book creator, she remains a cherished figure, and her literary and artistic works continue to inspire and delight readers of all ages!
Strawberry Girl (1946) is a Newbery Medal-winning children's novel by Lois Lenski, set in the rural landscapes of Florida during the Great Depression. The story revolves around Birdie Boyer and her family, who have moved from the North to a strawberry farm in the South. Through Birdie's eyes, young readers explore the challenges of adjusting to a new way of life and the joys of experiencing the strawberry harvest.
October 15th is a special day at Laughing Elephant, as it marks the birthday of our dear friend, founder, and for some of us, a cherished family member, Harold Darling. Under the pen name Welleran Poltarnees, he was not only a published author but also a compiler and editor of children's books. Alongside his wife, Sandra Woodward Darling, known to the world as Alexandra Day, he co-founded Green Tiger Press in 1970, which notably became the very first publisher of the beloved Good Dog Carl series of children's books. Their mission was to reintroduce the exquisite illustrations from out-of-print children's books to new generations of readers. In 1993, when they relocated to Seattle, they established Laughing Elephant, a creative haven that continues to be an enduring source of inspiration. Harold's passion for books, art, and illustration lives on through our work, and his legacy continues to enchant and captivate readers of all ages.
Happiness for a Happy Birthday! Harold Darling, known best for his captivating "blessing books," artfully combines curated illustrations from yesteryear, thoughtfully chosen quotes from his extensive reading, and his original prose to create works that inspire and enchant.
Barry Moser, born on October 15, 1940, is a distinguished artist and printmaker renowned for his remarkable contribution to the world of illustration and fine printing. His illustrious career reached its zenith when he secured the National Book Award for design and illustration in 1983 for his unparalleled work on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Moser's artistic influence extends far beyond the pages of books; his creations adorn the walls of prestigious museums and find a cherished place in the Library of Congress, a remarkable achievement for a living artist. In addition to his illustrious career, Moser is the owner and operator of the Pennyroyal Press, a notable engraving and small book publishing house he established in 1970. With a career as vivid and enduring as his artwork, Barry Moser continues to inspire and captivate through his profound artistry, emphasizing the timeless magic of the printed word.
Moby-Dick; or, the Whale (1979) stands as a testament to Barry Moser's extraordinary mastery of wood engraving, exemplifying his profound passion for the art of storytelling through captivating illustrations.
Edward Ardizzone (October 16, 1900 – November 8, 1979), affectionately known as Ted, had a truly international background. Born in Haiphong, French Indo-China (modern-day Vietnam), to an Italian father and English mother, he spent his formative years primarily in England. Ardizzone's artistic journey commenced with a commissioned advertisement for the whiskey company, Johnny Walker, setting the stage for a prolific career that would see him become a celebrated figure in the world of illustration and children's literature! His creative versatility and ability to craft captivating narratives through his artwork made him a beloved illustrator, known for the Little Tim series and awarded with the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal multiple times. With over one hundred and seventy books to his name, his enduring legacy continues to inspire both artists and young readers alike.
In the charming pages of Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (1956) and his other Little Tim books, you can see how Edward Ardizzone's childhood adventures around English docks shaped his art! His drawings bring the sea to life, capturing the spirit of youthful exploration for readers of all ages.
Thank you for joining us in celebrating the artistic legacies of these talented artists born in October. And if you're marking an October birthday, make sure to explore Laughing Elephant's vast collection of over 200 birthday cards, specially designed to add a touch of magic to those special moments!