Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Andrew Loomis in Illustration Magazine

Andrew Loomis in Illustration MagazineThe new issue of Illustration magazine (#20) just came out, and the highlight is a beautiful and extensive (32 page) article on Andrew Loomis.

Loomis was an influential editorial and advertising illustrator who is better known for his instructional books than his classic illustrations. Hopefully this article will go some way toward correcting this.

Loomis’ art instruction books are classics in the genre, and are generally considered “must have” by knowledgeable illustrators, comic books artists, concept artists and others who must construct the human figure from their imagination.

Unfortunately, they are mostly out of print except for disappointingly slim excerpts printed in large pamphlet format by Walter Foster as Drawing the Head and Drawing: Figures in Action.

Fortunately, some scanned archives of the original books in their entirety are available on the web. I’ll list some at the end of the post. For more information see my previous post about Andrew Loomis.

Loomis’ commercial and editorial illustrations are even harder to come by than reproductions of his books, though Leif Peng comes through again with a nice but brief Flickr set and a good blog post from Today’s Inspiration.

The Illustration article, however, is a treasure trove of both information on, and illustration by Loomis; and, unlike web images, the illustrations here are in their natural environment of crisp, high-resolution printing.

The article covers a range of fascinating information that even many dedicated Loomis fans may not know.

It was written by illustrator and designer Jack Harris. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jack since 1996, when he interviewed me about my webcomic for Buzzcutt, his pioneering online zine devoted to comics, film and pop culture.

I’ve been privileged to see a more extended version of his research on Loomis, which may hopefully make it into book form at some point; but in the meanwhile, this article is probably the most definitive source of information available on this highly influential artist, illustrator and author.

It includes a biographical background, overview and analysis of his work, history of his career, study of his techniques and methodology and descriptions of his books, some well known, some less so: Fun With a Pencil, Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth, Creative Illustration, Successful Drawing, 3-Dimensional Drawing, Drawing the head and Hands, and The Eye of the Painter; including stories about their creation and development.

These books are out of print, but they are treasured used bookstore finds for comic book artists, concept artists, illustrators and any other artists who must invent constructed figures without the recourse of a model, and they’re also inspirational in terms of Loomis’ method of developing ones skills as an artist.

It looks like Ken Steacy is intending to publish reprints of Loomis’ most famous and sought-after titles, but there are no publication dates and I’m not certain it’s a done deal.

I’ve been lucky to have found some of the Loomis books over the years, and have collected others in the form of photocopies from friends’ copies, and recently the web based scans. I’ve considered some of them (notably Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth and Drawing the Head and Hands, to be at the core of my art instruction library.

The Illustration article also includes the first mention I’ve seen of a lost Loomis title, I’d Love to Draw: Maybe You Can, Says Andrew Loomis, a drawing instruction manuscript that never saw print.

It wraps up with a look at Loomis’ legacy, his influence on a generation of aspiring artists, and his continuing influence today, particularly among certain illustrators and comic book artists like Glen Orbik, Laurel Blechman and Steve Rude, who all contributed information and images to the article.

It also mentions the influence of his teaching methodology along with that of Fred Fixler and Frank Reilly. The Loomis Method, as it is often referred to, has been influential in areas where it may not be mentioned by name. Many of the Walter Foster how to draw books carry on his ideas; there is a story in the article from Diana Loomis that the Disney corporation buys up copies of Loomis books from used bookstores and uses them in their training programs; and I see his influence strongly in the Famous Artist School approach and I see Loomis in the work of Harry Anderson, Haddon Sundblom, Gil Elvgren and the other “old School” illustrators of the mid-20th Century.

The Harris article in Illustration #20 is a fascinating look at a key figure in popular art instruction and illustration in the 20th Century.

As if the Loomis article wasn’t enough, this issue of Illustration doesn’t stop there; it also features in-depth articles the great classic sports cartoons of Willard Mullin and the striking illustrations, murals and gallery art of Alton S. Tobey, in addition to the usual book reviews and exhibition listings.

To say the articles in Illustration are “lavishly illustrated” is to belabor the obvious. Worth noting, though, is that the quality of the images and production values of the magazine in general are outstanding. Not that I want to give publisher Dan Zimmer any ideas, but I’m consistently amazed that the cover price is only $10, and not the $16 or $20 charged by other magazines that don’t come close to matching it for stunning images.

Also, one of the great things about Illustration magazine is that the ads are as beautiful as the content, particularly those from classic illustration dealers like Charles Martignette, GrapefruitMoonGallery, Illustration House and Heritage Art Auctions.

You can view a preview of the magazine in the form of thumbnail images of the entire issue on the Illustration magazine site. You can order single issues or subscriptions directly from the site.

See also my previous post about Illustration magazine and its sister publication illo.

 

7 thoughts on “Andrew Loomis in Illustration Magazine

  1. Mustafa1964

    I have bought two copies of the Illustration Magazine #20. If I had more money I would have bought ten. It is a must have for all serious lovers of Golden Age American Illustration.

  2. Gannon Beck

    Thanks Charley,

    I’ve just gotten into Andrew Loomis in the last couple of years. His are the most exhaustive illustration instruction I’ve ever seen. It’s going to take years of study to understand them completely (if such a thing is even possible).

    I was searching for more information on Loomis when I came across your post. Thank you so much for pointing me to Illustration Magazine. I’ve got issue #20 on order.

  3. Aidan

    Nice article. It’s great to see so much respect for the man.

    I’m a big fan of Andrew Loomis. I’ve learned an enormous amount from reading his books. I’m only an amateur but I’ve written an article recently showing how his books have helped me to improve my drawing skills.

    I’ll definitely try to get hold of the back issue of Illustration magazine.

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