Saturday, December 11, 2010

Geometric Inspiration

I recently saw Sufjan Stevens on his eye-popping Age of Adz tour, an ode to an illustrator named Royal Robertson. In the midst a 15-minute monologue, which I generally can't stand, I thought of some illustrations that I grew up with on the wall of our family room. They were these very geometric pieces of old cars and hippies. And though I was kind of annoyed at the length of The Soof's rambling, I was inspired to learn more about the person behind these illustrations from my childhood. (Feel free to click on any of the images to enlarge.)

Turns out they were drafted by my mom's uncle, Donald E. Anderson. Don was a heavily-decorated officer, serving in both WWII and Korea. He also was a hard-working man at Mountain Fuel, a community activist and interestingly enough, a partner in the war bonds business with actor Jason 'Fatman' McCabe. But more than anything else, Don was a caring uncle who loved to draw.

Don implemented a geometric illustration style, using a ruler and a T-square, as well as architectural stencils and a wide variety of pens and markers. His subjects were characters of the time, folk singers, soldiers, hippies and often himself. But he also created geometric abstract art as well. Nearly everything was drawn with straight lines, other than the perfect circles that pepper his pieces and the occasional unaided, hand-drawn textures.

Don had a unique strength at capturing the personality of each of his characters. He defined those personalities through expressions and details in fun, unexpected ways. He was able to geometrically represent the wrinkles, disheveled clothes and patchwork hair that comes along with characters with character.

Don passed away February 6, 1976 of a sudden heart attack at the age of 49, just 7 months before I was born. Yet I was inspired by him every day growing up through his delightfully quirky illustration-style. I spent much of my youth sketching my own characters, while sitting directly under his. There's no doubt he was one of the many influences that led me to a career in the creative field.

Thanks, Uncle Don.
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