A Pearl

My mentor, Murray, took me aside to reassure me that it was okay to be a decorative illustrator, after all he was. Join the club. When I was busy comparing myself to the sea of some of the most excellent non-flat people, he suggested I look at the work of John Alcorn (1935-1992). As usual, these little, well conceived kernels, as pearls amongst pigs, are chock full of information and learning that this smart man never has to teach...he just needs to point. And if a pig, decides to pick up the pearls and see what's there, it can be elucidating and sometimes a spur to change and grow. So, this pig amongst the pearls, quickly googled Alcorn while in Hartford and was knocked off her stool...but making a note to re look at this later.

This morning was the later. This Alcorn! This is an obsessive decorator. Little scenes on little paper doll stages. This is a man that is flat, lives in his own style, and creates images that sometimes, just sometimes are (god forbid) SPOTS! And though the work is old, its as fresh as it came off his sharp pen.

Wow. He can do so much, so many styles, forceful strong design, a conscious approach to his word so type does not seem imposed but graceful. Here is the wikipedia entry on him>>He was one of the Pushpin Studio guys, doing a lot of illustration in publishing for Rizzoli, Montadori, Longanesi & Co and in children's books. He is a designer's illustrator and a designing illustrator with a sensitivity and understanding of graphic design that may have come from his training at Cooper Union. His son, Stephen Alcorn, also a highly accomplished illustrator in his biography of his father says:

Alcorn's power and charm as illustrator is so pervasive that it often threatens to eclipse his identity as designer and problem solver. It is his immaculate sense of concept and message that gives his pictorial solutions a sense of absolute inevitability.

This totally resonates with me. Decorate or problem solve. Or both. And look at the skill Alcorn does it. Like a pirouette on point, he makes it look so easy. Its not.

Stephen Alcorn gives us another gift by posting 300 images John Alcorn presented in a slide lecture given at the Puck Building in New York City in the Fall of 1991. The presentation is called Evolution by Design, and it is a luscious group of images that inspire, provoke and prod me in my progression towards an identity as a decorative illustrator. He, like the Provensens, have me in their grip.

More to come on him in the future. Alcorn is key.

>John Alcorn's obituary in the New York Times>>