Thursday, March 10, 2016

Earl Mayan: Hard-Edge Illustrator

Earl Mayan (1916-2009) had a long life and a successful career in illustration and teaching. His Wikipedia entry is here and more biographical information here and here.

Even though he had success that included ten covers and a number of story illustrations in America's leading general-interest magazine of the day -- the Saturday Evening Post -- Mayan seems to be largely unknown today. Nothing unusual about that, actually. That's because there were more than a few illustrators who "hit the big-time" at the Post, but not consistently enough to develop a strong reputation in the readership and the public at large.

According to the second link above, Mayan painted portraits and landscapes, but I didn't notice any examples on the Internet. Too bad, because his style used for "slick" (paper quality) magazines was detailed and hard-edged -- not sketchy or painterly. So I am curious regarding his degree of versatility. His black & white story illustrations for "pulp" magazines in the 1930s are not painted and therefore aren't a basis for comparison.

Mayan's most elaborate illustrations are impressive in terms of the amount of work they required due to the large amount of detail depicted. He was a highly skilled illustration technician. I respect Mayan considerably, but due to quirks of personal taste, he doesn't rank with my favorites.


Saturday Evening Post story illustration

Saturday Evening Post story illustration

Saturday Evening Post cover art (cropped at the top) - 23 April 1955

Saturday Evening Post cover - 20 April 1957
The subject is New York Yankees' legendary catcher Yogi Berra at work under a pop foul ball in Boston's Fenway Park.

Saturday Evening Post cover - 2 June 1956

Saturday Evening Post cover - 28 April 1956
For some reason (he might have been a fan), Mayan included a large number of English cars in this scene even though they were scarce on American streets in the 1950s.

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