Exhibition Overview

Before pixels, programs, and software transformed graphic design, illustrators gave form to thought and generated the majority of public imagery. Using their creativity and talents to promote specific ideas, they helped tell stories and sell products through books, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, logos, labels, calendars, billboards, and even coloring books. Behind their bold and bright designs, however, was a standard artistic approach. The illustrators used the same supplies and techniques as any painter, and composed every scene with perspective, aesthetic, color, form, and figure in mind. These commercial storytellers influenced public opinion and consumerism, and included many western artists, from Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington, to Tom Ryan, Lowell Ellsworth Smith, Bettina Steinke, and others. Material from the Museum’s Dickinson Research Center documents the important role illustration played in their careers, and reveals that a picture is not worth 1,000 words. It’s worth far more.

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