About 10 years ago, my wife and I bought a copy of The Book of Classic Board Games, a spiral-bound book with thick pasteboard pages that came with attached pouches of “Go”-style game pieces and served as both a text about, and playable examples of, simple but timeless board games.
It was an example of brilliant book packaging, highlighted by illustrations throughout. By far the most memorable of these, including the cover, were done by an artist whose work I recognized but whose name I didn’t know at the time. It was Elwood H. Smith. We’ve used the book countless times, and I’ve never failed to be delighted by the pages containing his illustrations. Since then I’ve always been pleased to find his work in other books or periodicals.
Chances are you’ve seen his illustrations too, in the pages of Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal The New York Times and many other editorial and advertising venues.
His whimsical cartoon illustrations carry echos of great comic strip artists from the early 20th Century, like Bud Fisher, Cliff Sterrett, and in particular, George Herriman.
Many cartoon style illustrators fall flat for me by simplifying their drawings to the point of leaving out anything of visual interest. Smith has an uncanny knack for balancing just the right amounts of stylization, color, tiny bits of detail and wonderful elements of simple texture to charm your eye and make his drawings a joy to look at.
Addendum: Elwood Smith has written to let us know that he also has a blog at www.drawger.com/greenmonkey on which he posts his animation experiments, new images and thoughts on all manner of subjects, including his search for the perfect brush, and his favorite india ink and favorite drawing pen, the Pelikan 120.