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Andrew Loomis readily understood the power of straightforward illustrative communication.  An energetic, popular advertising and story illustrator, Loomis also authored a number of the landmark art technique texts.  In his Creative Illustration he writes: “It can be taken as a sound rule that the simpler the presentation of a subject, the better it will be pictorially.  This is the secret of good advertising material or any subjects seeking to command attention.”

The period of Loomis’s great visibility, from the early 1920s through the late 1940s, witnessed an explosion in what we now call “the mass market.”  It was only with the arrival of the 1920s that the combining of the best illustration with nationally distributed products achieved prominence.  Loomis, through his carefully composed paintings and richly romantic imagery, helped speed the movement.  In his book Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, Loomis summed up his approach by saying, “There is no other course than somehow to go beyond the obvious fact to pertinent fact, to characterization, to the emotional and dramatic, to selection and taste, to simplification, subordination and accentuation.  It is 10% how you draw and 90% what you draw.”

He approached his story assignments in much the same way, believing “the keynote of the [story] illustrator’s job [is] to sell the story, just as he would any product.”  For Loomis, illustration was a continuing process of growth tied inextricably to society’s constant changing.  As he wrote in Creative Illustration: “Illustration must encompass emotion, the life we live, the things we do and how we feel.”  In Successful Drawing he stressed the need for a personal approach to the creative life: “…one’s skill is never complete, one’s knowledge is forever lacking, one’s taste is invariably altered, one’s opinion ever subject to controvery.  There is a complete a constant urge toward improvement.  Painting is nearer to life than any other form of art.”

Throughout his more-than-thirty-year career he remained a dedicated craftsman, a respected teacher and an eager student.  Forty years after his death his impact is felt today.

Fred Taraba

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