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Inspiration: Ward’s Morgue File

Today for our illustration inspiration, we’re featuring an Instagram feed that’s quickly growing into a bounty of visual goodness. Our internet buddy/art pen pal Ward Jenkins started Ward’s Morgue File in November of last year (2018) and has already curated over 150 beautiful examples of mid-century commercial art, concept art for animated films, record covers, and illustrated books. To date he’s covered so many of the greats: Mary Blair, Tom Oreb, Gene Deitch, Jim Flora, Walt Peregoy, Alice & Martin Provensen, Ralph Hulett, and more.

Pop over and check it out:


Below: Mary Blair concept art for “it’s a small world” pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in NYC.

Inspiration: Leonard Visits Space Picture Book

Today’s illustration inspiration comes from this awesome whimsical picture book originally published in 1965 and illustrated by Ric Hugo (1927–2003).

Unlike the previous inspiration examples we’ve posted to date (check out our post on a mid-century illustrated cookbook), a quick search of Mr. Hugo actually comes up with a bio—shocker! According to the Lambiek Comiclopedia, Ric Hugo also enjoyed a career as a comic strip creator and a courtroom sketch artist.

Leonard Visits Space is a beautiful example of the depth of storytelling you can get with reducing images to simple shapes and lines, with two simple ink colors, orange and a range of grayscale.

(Also, how much does the government official on p. 36 creepily look like Donald Trump? Now you can’t unsee it, either. You’re welcome.)


Inspiration: Mid-Century Illustrated Cookbook

Last week we shared one of the albums in our record collection that we keep for its cover illustration rather than for listening. Today we’re sharing one of the cookbooks in our library that we turn to for visual inspiration rather than its recipes! (Seriously, we’ve never cooked out of this. Though now that we’re looking through it, some of the recipes are intriguing!) This thing is chockfull of whimsical two-color spot illustrations, and we’d like to share some of our top favorites.
The publishing date in this one is 1961, though you’ll see some of the signatures have ’57 written next to the illustrator Frank Marcello’s name. See if you can find the self-portrait!

Inspiration: Vintage Piano Exercise Book Illustrations

whimsical illustrated piano book

Hey guys! Today we’re featuring a handful of whimsical illustrations from a beginner piano exercise book in our inspiration collection. This is one of those pieces that would have completely flown under the art radar during its time, but now is a fantastic resource in nearly 50 pages of spot illustrations and 1/4–1/2 page scenes. 

There’s no publication date in the book, but the student’s certificate is dated March 1970, so the credited illustrator Ernest Kurt Barth would have completed the work towards the end of the 60’s. There’s plenty of detail to admire in the ornamented cartoony execution, but look beyond the linework and you’ll notice some really pleasing, well-balanced shapes.

(By the way, she did finish the course and get her certificate. Go Kathy!)

More inspiration:

Vintage Disney Vinyl Album Cover