Golden Age Illustrators:
Sketches, Stories, and Solutions

Illustrator working in sketchbook

Golden Age illustrators faced a problem shared by illustrators and designers today. Pushed by time deadlines, tight budgets, and anxious art directors, artists approached each assignment with the question:

“How can I create a visual representation that best enhances the written words?”

On this page are some solutions found by artists of the past to unique challenges they faced; a look back at some fascinating stories and sketches that provide insights and inspiration for today's artists.

William Leigh, for example, was assigned in 1907 to illustrate a story by H.G. Wells called “The Things that Live on Mars.” Nobody before had ever shown Martians based on "scientific" evidence.

In 1909 Ralph Cleaver illustrated a story, probably the first aviation-romance story, called “An Aeroplane for Two.”

Corwin Knapp Linson in 1897 accompanied McClure's Magazine writer Charles Murray aboard a ship from New York to England. The ship's cargo, sketched by Linson during the voyage, was an entire circus menagerie bound for performances in London.

When artists traveled abroad on assignment for popular magazines, they always took their sketchbooks with them. Often their quick pen or pencil sketches, spontaneous and revealing of the places they visited, found their way onto the magazine's pages.

The Golden Age of Illustration not only produced great artists, but great solutions.

Check our Image Galleries to see more examples by Golden Age illustrators

See Martians created for H.G. Wells'
The Things that Live on Mars.

Many Golden Age illustrators volunteered for frontline duty from 1914 through 1918, and faced danger and hardships on European battlefileds. See examples of their work:
Combat Artists of World War One.

Vernon Howe Bailey became the first American artist during World War I to portray America's wartime factories.
See his sketches made
Inside an Aircraft Factory in 1917.

Some of the best Golden Age cartoonists in England and America were asked in 1909 to interprete the same joke line. See the fascinating results of the
Runaway Dog Cartoon.

(More Sketches and Stories are coming soon!)