I went along to see the Mac Conner show at the delightful House of Illustration Gallery at King’s Cross in London and snapped the various images in this post. That's me above standing in front of a giant Mac Conner illusrtation.
It is a wonderful exhibition and it took me right back to the days when, as a ten-year-old, I would leaf through my mother’s weekly magazines and tear out the illustrations that accompanied the stories. I would then sit at the kitchen table and attempt to copy them, such was my love of illustration. A few years later, I had a folder full of these torn reference images, by which time I’d become familiar with all the illustrators’ names, my favourites being Bernard Fuchs, Al Parker and Mark English. I’d even sorted all the artists into categories (I was very geeky even then). So, this Mac Conner show was a bit of a nostalgic trip for me.
When I finally entered the world of ‘commercial art’ in the 1960s, one of my early jobs was working as an in-house designer for a London artist agent. It was here that I came into contact with some of Britain’s most successful illustrators at the time, who were still following the great American illustration tradition that started way back with magazines like Saturday Evening Post and the great Norman Rockwell. You can read more about my time in the 1960s here.
Amazingly, Mac Conner is still with us at a staggering 101, so he must be delighted at being exhibited not only in his home town of New York but now here in London and no doubt travelling to other major cities.It is so sad that this kind of work is rarely appreciated on this level – the skill and artistry are so evident when you see the actual originals. It amazes me that people will flock to see Tracey Emin’s dreadful attempts at drawing but would pass on Mac Conner. Funny old world.