Illustrators Born in September
Let's celebrate with Carl!
September is a month of birthdays, and not just for your friends and family—it seems to be a time when creative geniuses also make their debut into the world, including some of our favorite illustrators! From the imaginative worlds crafted by Syd Hoff and the avant-garde visions of Oscar Schlemmer to the timeless charm of Jessie Willcox Smith and the whimsical tales spun by Roald Dahl, September has given birth to a remarkable array of artistic talent. These illustrators have left an indelible mark on the worlds of children's literature, art, and imagination. So, as we celebrate the changing seasons, let's also tip our hats to these creative minds born in September…
Syd Hoff (September 4, 1912 – May 12, 2004) was a prolific American cartoonist, author, and illustrator renowned for his influence on both comics and children's literature. Born in New York City, he launched his illustrious career as a cartoonist, contributing to esteemed publications such as The New Yorker and Esquire. In 1938, he was commissioned by media mogul William Randolph Hearst to create the comic strip Tuffy, which was declared "essential for national morale" during World War II. Alongside his mainstream work, Hoff contributed cartoons to leftist publications under the pseudonym A. Redfield. His enduring legacy is epitomized by the timeless children's book Danny and the Dinosaur (1958). His distinct artistic style, marked by bold lines and expressive characters, continues to captivate early readers!
Danny and the Dinosaur has sold over 10 million copies and spawned thirteen other sequels!
Oscar Schlemmer (September 4, 1888 – April 13, 1943) was a visionary German painter, sculptor, designer, and choreographer who greatly influenced the world of modern art and performance. Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Schlemmer initially trained as a painter but later found his true calling as a multifaceted artist. He is best known for his pioneering work at the Bauhaus School in the early 20th century, where he explored the intersection of art, design, and performance. Schlemmer's groundbreaking Triadic Ballet, created between 1922 and 1925, remains one of his most celebrated achievements, combining avant-garde costume design, geometric choreography, and abstract stage settings. Schlemmer's artistic legacy continues to inspire contemporary artists, particularly in the realms of experimental theater, dance, and interdisciplinary design.
Jessie Willcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935) was an American illustrator whose exceptional talent known best for her contributions to magazine art and children's literature! Born in Philadelphia and having studied under the great Howard Pyle, she rose to artistic prominence with her contributions to magazines like Ladies' Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. Her artistry reached its zenith during the Golden Age of Illustration, a period marked by her memorable depictions of cherubic children and captivating scenes. Among her most beloved works are the illustrations for classics like Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (1905) and Charles Kingsley's The Water-Babies (1916). At Laughing Elephant, Jessie Willcox Smith holds a special place as a favorite, with her timeless creations adorning various greeting cards to art prints!
This is one of the hundreds of images Smith created for Good Housekeeping and is our most popular birthday card featuring her art!
Elmer Hader (September 7, 1889 – September 7, 1973) was a prolific American artist and writer celebrated for his remarkable contributions to both illustration and children's literature. Born in Berkeley, California, Hader initially pursued a career in journalism before transitioning to art. He and his wife, Berta Hader, formed a creative partnership that resulted in numerous acclaimed children's books, including their best-known work, The Big Snow, which was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1949. Impressively, the Haders went on to win the award two more times! Hader's artistic legacy is characterized by his distinctive style, characterized by intricate, detailed illustrations that brought the natural world to life for young readers. His deep connection to nature is apparent in his work.
John Steinbeck, impressed by his work, enlisted Elmer Hader to design the covers for The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and two more of his subsequent books.
Alexandra Day, born Sandra Louise Woodward Darling on September 7, 1941, is a renowned author and illustrator. Many know her as the creative mind behind Good Dog, Carl, a beloved series depicting the adventures of a Rottweiler named Carl, who lovingly cares for a baby named Madeleine. Her own Rottweiler, Toby, served as the beloved model for Carl. Subsequent sequels featured other cherished Darling family Rottweilers (the current one is a goofy boy named Abelard). Alongside her husband, Harold Darling, she co-founded Green Tiger Press in 1970 (the very first publisher of Carl books!). In 1983, she ventured into illustration, adding The Teddy Bears' Picnic to her impressive portfolio—a delightful adaptation of Jimmy Kennedy's cherished children's song. Upon relocating to Seattle in 1993, the Darlings established Laughing Elephant, a creative haven that continues to inspire! Sandra's lifelong commitment to art shines through her enduring works, captivating audiences young and old with her boundless creativity.
New work from Alexandra Day includes her Bravo-Cado line of cute and punny greeting cards! 🥑
Eric Hill (September 7, 1927 – June 6, 2014) was a beloved British author and illustrator known for his exceptional contributions to children's literature. It was his creation of the lovable character Spot the Dog that catapulted him to international acclaim. First introduced in 1980 in the book Where's Spot?, this adorable and mischievous puppy became an instant sensation. The Spot the Dog series, characterized by its simple and engaging storytelling and vibrant illustrations, has since sold over 60 million copies worldwide and been translated into numerous languages! Eric Hill's legacy in children's literature is marked by his ability to captivate young readers with endearing characters and championing child literacy.
How many of us learned to read with Spot’s help?
Michael Hague, born on September 8, 1948, is a celebrated American illustrator and author renowned for his exceptional contributions to children's literature. Influenced by turn-of-the-century illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, N.C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle, Hague forged a distinctive artistic path. His illustrious career is marked by his enchanting and meticulously detailed illustrations that have breathed new life into classic tales. Hague's masterful interpretations of beloved stories like The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz, plus so many more, have earned him accolades and a dedicated following.
This magical fellow by Michael Hague is undoubtedly the best-dressed rabbit in our Easter Collection!
Roald Dahl (September 13, 1916 – November 23, 1990) was a prolific British author whose captivating storytelling we all know and love! Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl's early life included service as a fighter pilot during World War II. His exceptional talent for weaving imaginative tales with a touch of darkness and humor led to the creation of some of the most cherished children's books of all time such as James and the Giant Peach (1961), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), and The BFG (1982). His writings are characterized by their whimsical yet subversive narratives that empower young readers to challenge the status quo. Dahl's timeless tales continue to captivate generations of readers and have been adapted into numerous films, plays, and other media.
The titular character in Matilda (1988), as illustrated by Quentin Blake, is an undisputed literary icon!
Tomie dePaola (September 15, 1934 – March 30, 2020) was a renowned American author and illustrator whose prolific career in children's literature speaks for itself. Born in Connecticut, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the California College of Arts and Crafts. DePaola's signature style, characterized by vibrant colors and detailed illustrations, graced over 270 books, making him one of the most beloved and prolific creators in the field. His best-known works include Strega Nona (1975), a Caldecott Honor book, and the 26 Fairmount Avenue series, a semi-autobiographical collection chronicling his own childhood. In recognition of his lifetime dedication to American children's literature, he was honored with the Children's Literature Legacy Award in 2011.
Do you remember the story of Strega Nona? A kind-hearted Italian witch inadvertently floods her town with pasta when her magical pasta pot is misused by her helper, Big Anthony! The characters reappeared in many of dePaola’s books.
H.A. Rey (September 16, 1898 – August 26, 1977) was a remarkable artist and author, best known for co-creating the beloved children's book characters Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat, alongside his creative partner and wife, Margret Rey. Born in Hamburg, Germany, as Hans Augusto Reyersbach, he and Margret fled the Nazi regime in 1940, carrying with them the manuscript for their first Curious George book. This adventurous little monkey, inspired by their own experiences, would become an enduring icon in children's literature. Together, the Reys authored a total of seven Curious George books, inspiring a wide range of media adaptations, including films, TV shows, and numerous additional books. Their work ensures that the curious little monkey's adventures continue to delight new generations of young readers worldwide.
George is described as "a good little monkey, and always very curious".
Arthur Rackham (September 19, 1867 – September 6, 1939) was a celebrated British illustrator, renowned for his intricate and somewhat eerie pen and ink drawings combined with watercolor. Born in London, he honed his artistic skills at the Lambeth School of Art. His work found a thriving market in the Golden Age of Illustration, with a strong demand for high-quality illustrated books, often given as cherished Christmas gifts. His illustrious portfolio boasts a plethora of classics, including noteworthy renditions of Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1900), Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle (1905), and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906). His legacy endures as he significantly shaped the world of fantasy illustration with his unique perspective.
An Arthur Rackham-illustrated pas de deux as featured in The Ingoldsby Legends by Thomas Ingoldsby, the pen name of Richard Harris Barham.
Miska Petersham (September 20, 1888 – May 26, 1960) and his wife Maud were another creative duo active in children's literature illustration in the mid-20th century! Hungarian-born Miska Petersham immigrated to the United States, where he met his wife and embarked on a prolific artistic journey in New York City. Together, they produced illustrations for more than 120 trade and textbooks, anthologies, and picture books. Notably, their work includes the Caldecott Medal winner The Rooster Crows (1945) and Carl Sandburg's iconic Rootabaga Stories (1922), serving as quintessential examples of their ability to capture the essence of childhood in America. Their art, noted for technical excellence and vibrant color, introduced international folk and modernist themes, enriching young readers' understanding of diverse cultures and traditions.
This sweet scene is the cover for Maud & Miska Petersham's 1948 book, My Very First Book.
L. Leslie Brooke (September 21, 1862 – May 1, 1940) was a notable English author and illustrator who significantly influenced the world of children's literature. Born in Sussex, England, Brooke pursued a career in both law and art, but it was his charming and whimsical illustrations that would define his legacy. His noteworthy children’s books include Johnny Crow's Garden (1903) and Ring O' Roses (1922). These works featured anthropomorphic animals engaged in playful and imaginative adventures, captivating young readers with delightful narratives and captivating visuals. Brooke's legacy endures through his oil paintings that reside in museums and his illustrations in classic books—name a beloved children's tale, and he likely illustrated an edition of it!
This fancy fellow adorns one of our most popular birthday cards!
Cooper Edens, born on September 25, 1945, in Seattle, is a renowned author and illustrator celebrated for his distinctive approach to children's literature. With a portfolio of over 25 children's books, Edens has left his special mark on the genre. His most famous works, If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow (1979) and Add One More Star to the Night (1998), showcase his unique "horizontal" storytelling style, which invites readers to navigate non-linear problem-solving scenarios, a departure from traditional linear narratives. Edens has also collaborated with fellow artists on various children's books—notably, he shared a deep and lasting friendship with our founders, Harold and Sandra Darling (a.k.a Alexandra Day!). It was Green Tiger Press, the precursor to Laughing Elephant, that first published his enchanting books!
“If you have butterflies in your stomach, invite them into your heart.” from If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow.
Winsor McCay (September 26, 1867 – July 26, 1934) was an American cartoonist, animator, and illustrator, best remembered for his groundbreaking contributions to the world of comics and animation during the early 20th century. Born in Michigan, McCay achieved immense acclaim through his comic strips, most notably Little Nemo in Slumberland and Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (written under the pen name, Silas). These works showcased his exceptional artistic talent, imaginative storytelling, and innovative use of color and panel layouts, setting new standards for the art form. McCay's animation work was equally pioneering; his film Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) is considered one of the earliest animated films and a milestone in animation history. His creations continue to inspire and influence generations of cartoonists, animators, and illustrators, forging a path for visual storytellers to follow.
This 1906 Little Nemo panel now resides in the National Gallery of Art, a high honor for a comic!
Thank you for joining us in celebrating the artistic legacies of these talented artists born in September. And if you're commemorating a September birthday, don't forget to explore Laughing Elephant's extensive collection of over 200 birthday cards designed to make those special occasions even more memorable!