Ahoy, Har Be Some Thoughts About Ye Pirates, Shiver Me Timbers!

pirateopenerThe more I learn, the more I realize that what you know is connected in ways that are surprising and stimulating to think about.  This thought occurred to me recently when I learned something new about pirates. That’s right, pirates!

I am teaching the History of Illustration at Ringling College, which is a course I have never taught—or  even taken—before.  As a matter of fact, it is a course that you will likely not find outside of an art school. Most weeks I am knee deep in research on the eras and artists that were important in the evolution of illustration. I treat it as a popular art, meaning part of the material covers the impact of each era and artist on our culture and society, much like I teach film history. Prior to film and broadcast media, print and publishing held the public’s fascination, and illustrators were the stars of the publishing industry. Fans followed the work of prominent magazine, newspaper, and book illustrators, who were treated like celebrities.

Recently, I taught the work of Howard Pyle, who is often dubbed the Father of American Illustration, because he was the first important teacher of the art and craft of commercial draftsmanship. He opened his own unique school in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware, where students paid no tuition and stayed as long as they felt they needed to. In turn, many of the students became teachers, and Pyle’s style of illustration was passed on to a third generation of artists.


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