Edward Penfield – Illustrator (June 2, 1866, New York – February 8, 1925, Beacon)
At NARAN-HO Design we continue to show you our sources of inspiration and this time we will review the work of Edward Penfield, who was an American illustrator of the period known as the “Golden Age of American Illustration”. Penfield is considered the father of the American cartel.
Edward Penfield studied at the Art Students League in New York and then continued studying in the Netherlands and England. In 1891, he became the art director for Harper’s magazine, where he also designed a series of highly successful posters.
Penfield also collaborated on other magazines such as Scribner’s and Collier’s. He designed numerous magazine covers, posters and calendars, also contributing articles. His works include Holland Sketches and Spanish Sketches.
Penfield accomplished in the US what artists like Alphonse Mucha and Toulouse-Lautrec did in Europe: the popularization of the poster. This is how Harper’s posters have become the most characteristic graphic works of the late 19th century in the USA.
Penfield took full advantage of recent improvements in colour printing to create jobs that were effective communication vehicles and also aesthetically appealing. Less concerned with the dramatic curved lines of Art Nouveau than his contemporaries, Penfield synthesized a number of stylistic sources in his work, including Japanese prints and those of French artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret.
His posters were bold and stood out from a distance with great clarity. For his posters, Penfield used simple shapes and a limited colour palette that lent itself to the primitive methods of reproduction of the time.
More than a poster artist, Edward Penfield was an illustrator, art editor, graphic designer, writer, painter, educator, and mentor, a master.
“A poster, to be effective, must have the same qualities that a good painting possesses – color, simplicity and composition – but must be expressed in a different manner”
“A poster has to play to the public over the variety stage, so to speak – to come en with a personality of its own and to remain but a few moments. We are a bit tired of the very serious nowadays, and a little frivolity is refreshing; and yet frivolity to be successful must be most thoroughly studied”