Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Arthur Singer
a 25 year old artist
in the "Ghost Army" during WWll

Let's all get together to think about Father's Day, even if your father is away - or maybe like me, he passed away 25 years ago.  Of course every person is unique and we celebrate them for their individuality, but we also look for relationships.  In regard to my father, Arthur Singer - this means that I look a bit like him, and my relationship was complex and we also worked together as I got older.

Paul and Alan Singer circa 1953

I always admired the artwork my father made, since he had a studio at home - when I was little I would watch him work on his art - how did he do all that!  Now in 2015, my brother Paul, and I are working on a book about my father, and this calls up all sorts of memories.  Then we both have an archive of materials, including letters and reviews to consider, as well as hundreds of pieces of art that still remain in the family.

My mother and father were both artists who met when they went to college in New York City at The Cooper Union.  They were able to go to college in the 1930's because Cooper charged no tuition then and only a few students were admitted each year.  They graduated in a class of men and women who went on to become influential artists and designers.  These folks were like our extended family.  Then World War ll intervened and my father joined with other artists like Bill Blass and Ellsworth Kelly, as part of the "Ghost Army", a secret operation of deception along the German front.

Sports Illustrated cover art from 1955
by Arthur Singer

After the War, one of the designers my father graduated with was Jerome Snyder ( who later wrote "The Underground Gourmet" with Milton Glaser ) - and Jerome worked for Sports Illustrated as an art director.  Jerome gave my father a plum assignment - the cover art for an issue of SI that would celebrate the birds of the United States, and this would acknowledge a new interest in bird identification and also be of interest to the hunters who bought the magazine.

So, as a youngster I watched my dad create the art that then graced the cover of this magazine and then so much changed after that experience in 1955.  My father began to earn his living as a working artist and developed his lifelong interest in wildlife illustration.  I was also able to learn a lot watching his method of working and witness the progress he made in his career.  And he was instrumental in helping me establish my direction.  Some children rebel and do exactly the opposite of what their parents do but in my case I loved what my parents did, and I wanted to do that ( art ) too....

State Birds and State Flowers stamps from 1982
by Arthur and Alan Singer

Fast Forward thirty years and I struggled as a young artist in New York City, with some years being good financially and others sort of blah.  What saved me was working on jobs with my father - he put me to work painting backgrounds for many of his images.  In the 1980's we went to work for the U.S.Postal Service designing and illustrating a best selling series of stamps that made many millions of dollars for the government.

Our last major project was a book published by Lodestar called "State Birds" and we put a lifetime of love and dedication to nature as a subject into the pages of that book.  It was one of those very rewarding experiences that can change a life.  It certainly did for me.  Thanks, Dad!

Painting for "State Birds" Lodestar Books, 1986
Arthur and Alan Singer