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 Al (Alfred) Charles Parker  (1906 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/New York/Missouri      Known for: magazine illustration, commercial art

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Ad Code: 3
Alfred Charles Parker
from Auction House Records.
Book cover illustration: Little girl hugging blanket
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Al Parker (1906-1985) was the artist who defined the progressive look of illustration from the 1940s through the '60s. He created an idealized reflection of the "Baby Boom" generation with his series of covers for The Ladies' Home Journal in which Mother and Daughter wear matching outfits and enjoy life together. Millions of readers, mostly women, followed his inventive story illustrations in the major magazines. Parker's innovative point of view always made his work stand out from that of other illustrators, and he constantly varied his style and mediums to best fit the requirements of the assignment. His pictures were full of personal touches using carefully selected props and gestures in a manner that invited a closer look. Readers took pleasure in their discovery. He was also a trend setter; his models were depicted in the latest fashions inspiring his readers to follow.

Other illustrators were quick to respond to his success. By their following his lead, Parker inadvertently created a whole new "school" of illustration. While flattering, this was not an entirely welcome situation. There came to be so many look-alikes that it was difficult for Parker to keep ahead of them. One of the motivations for his ever-evolving style was to keep his identity separate, as his works, once published, often provided "inspiration" for a coterie of followers. He complained that he could only stay one month ahead of the pack, but his far-reaching influence provided self-inspiration; he was at his best while others were nipping at his heels. Parker once laid down the gauntlet by illustrating an entire issue of Cosmopolitan using a different style (and pseudonym) for each story.

Al Parker flourished at the end of the era when illustration had its greatest influence. Parker's work will continue to be remembered for its importance in the history of American illustration, quite apart from the transience of its original publication.

"Al Parker", Illustration House, //

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Al Parker (1906-1985) was an American artist and illustrator, who was known as the "Dean of Illustrators".

Parker's display of talent as a teenager led his grandfather, a Mississippi River Pilot, to pay for Al's first year in Washington University's School of Fine Arts in St. Louis, Missouri in 1922. He also played in a jazz band to earn money for tuition. He married a fellow student, Evelyn, and later joined with several former classmates to open an advertising agency in St. Louis. The business did not do well during the Great Depression, and Parker moved to New York City in 1935.

Parker got a break when a cover illustration he did for House Beautiful won a national competition. He soon was producing illustrations for Chatelaine, Collier's, Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Home Companion. Starting in 1938, he produced a total of 50 covers over a 13-year period for the Ladies' Home Journal. He also sold illustrations to Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, McCall's, The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, Town and Country and Vogue.

Parker is credited with creating a new school of illustration and was much imitated. In an effort to distinguish himself from his imitators, he worked in a variety of styles, themes and media. In cooperation with the magazine's art director, he secretly provided every illustration in an issue of Cosmopolitan, using different pseudonyms, styles and mediums for each story.

Parker was one of the founding faculty members for the Famous Artists School. He was elected to the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame in 1965. A stamp commemorating his art was issued by the United States Postal Service on February 1, 2001 as part of the American Illustrators Issue series.

His son, Kit Parker, founded the film company, Kit Parker Films.

"Al Parker", Wikipedia, // (Accessed 11/23/2013)

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