There is something definitively classic about golden age illustrators, particularly artists such as J.C. Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, and Dean Cornwell, that make me return to their works over and over again. Part of that is the technical prowess displayed by those titans, but the more that I look at their work, the more that I am struck by what they are actually depicting. They grew up in a different age, where the average American job was labor driven. Hence, much of their work was for the working class or were depicting ideals relating to the working class. The romanticism of hard work was certainly an element to their work, aided by a strong sense of drama.
So, when I was approached by my client to make a mural for him in a downtown ice cream shop in a small American town, I started looking for ways to emulate golden age illustrators because it felt contextually appropriate. The assignment was relatively simple: a black and white painting of a Blacksmith making ice cream, an extended metaphor of this particular business’ ice cream making the process. I just wanted to simultaneously glorify the ideals of honest work and professionalism in an industry known for intensive labor.
As to the success of the image, and my ability to follow in the footsteps of previous illustrative masters, I will let you decide. For my part, however, I found the project immensely enjoyable and satisfying.