Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ROBERT HEINDEL


Robert Heindel died this year. He was only 67 years old, with many great years of painting still ahead of him, but he had been ill and surely knew the end was near. I was fortunate to talk with him a few months before he passed away, and hear his conclusions about illustration as he approached the end of his career.

Heindel was born in Akron Ohio and, with no art training except a correspondence class, worked his way up from tire advertisements in Ohio to car illustrations in Detroit to magazine illustrations in New York, where he became close friends with Bernie Fuchs and Mark English. From there, he single handedly carved out his own specialized niche painting beautiful images of dancers. He made an excellent living selling prints and originals of his paintings in galleries around the world and over the internet. This career path was a remarkable accomplishment. Heindel knew what he wanted to do and invented a career to permit him to do it. His example should be an inspiration to others looking for a career in the visual arts.

The following quotes are from my conversation with Heindel this summer:

"The business of illustration is literally nonexistent today.... When Bernie Fuchs and I did what we did, it was a different world. We had to make a lot of hard decisions as things changed. Where do kids starting out today take their talent if they want to do what we did? I would say they’re fucked. There is nothing for them. They can’t follow the path that Bernie and I followed any longer. And our society is pretty unforgiving for those who make the wrong judgments.

"You do what you have to do to have the life you want. You get up one morning, you start to feel oppressed by what you do. You want more freedom. I worked it out so I can stay up here in the woods in Connecticut. I have three business partners that run a big business around the world. I don’t take assignments anymore, I do what I want to do when I want to do it....All of this could only get done with technology [like the internet, digital imaging and telecommunications]."



"When I pushed the boundaries it made my work harder to sell and drove my partners crazy. Now I don’t have the energy level I once did. You realize when you get to be my age that you aren’t really as good as you wanted to be. You have to confront the question, “how good am I? Why can’t I be better?” All I can tell you is that I keep knocking at the door."

"When you do really terrific work, you know that you’ve done it. You can tell. I know who I compare myself against, who I’ve been up against. And it starts all the way back with the cave paintings in France....You start out thinking your competition is the guy you want to get a job away from that day. Then you gradually realize that you are your competition. The job is your competition."


When I spoke with Heindel, I found him to be a profound, thoughtful, sensitive man who had clearly spent a great deal of time at his easel musing about life's big issues. He was also funny and irreverent. I'm sorry that I only met him at the end of his life, but I am proud to pass his pictures and his ideas on to the readers of this blog.

17 Comments:

Blogger leif said...

Wow. Thanks, David. A profound and inspiring lesson to close out the year. I was not overly familiar with his work but after your posting here I feel both sad that Heindel is gone and glad to have "met" him through you.

12/31/2005 12:05 PM  
Blogger Z.sais said...

yeah thanks for the info ,and the kick a$$ visuals.
just looking at these says so much about the ethic and craft of this man.

1/02/2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger René Milot said...

Bob Heindel, Bernie Fuchs and Mark English were the 3 illustrators that made me decide to go into illustration: I saw them give lectures at the college where I studied! Thanks David from bringing my idols in the spotlight: as much as I like all type of illustration stryles, old & new: these illustrators, especially Heindel, are the ones I still have on my studio wall. I also agree with his statement about young students now: I recently stopped teaching illustrations at 2 colleges, because of the reality of the industry now. Could not bring myself anymore to answer questions my students had about Heindel's time compare to taday's reality!

1/04/2006 9:52 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Thanks for the kind words.
Rene, if you like Fuchs, Heindel and English you should investigate the next issue of Illustration Magazine which is coming out this month. The whole magazine is devoted to Bernie Fuchs, with ample quotes from Heindel and English. The three of them were very close friends, and they used to talk, drink and paint far into the night. They also played hilarious practical jokes on each other. Once when Fuchs was having a swimming pool installed, Heindel and English concluded Fuchs was being too finicky about the pattern for the brick patio surrounding the pool. To teach him a lesson, they snuck over in the middle of the night and installed the bricks themselves in the opposite pattern. When Fuchs woke up, he went ballistic (for about 5 minutes).

1/05/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger Amy C. Moreno said...

Those paintings are breathtaking... I remember seeing them aways back...and always loved them! You were so fortunate to have known him and been able to talk with him. Just looking at his art makes any artist want to be better..and create new work...so inspiring..
Great blog by the way. DO you happen to know if there is such a thing as DVDs or videos of any of Fuchs, Heindel or Mark English teaching painting or illustrating techniques? I've scoured the internet and there don't seem to be any teaching DVDs on illustration particularly. ( I know that strong painting and drawing is the most important aspect..but figured you might know.

7/20/2006 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Bob Brown, Illustrator said...

I had the esteem good fortune to meet Bob Heindel through the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Then study with he, Bernie Fuchs, Mark English, Bob Peak, Fred Otnes and Alan Cober at the 1977 Illustrator's Workshop held in Tarrytown, NY. I visit his studio, and spent the most wonderful week, working along side six (6) of America's greatest illustrators. Those moments and memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. Bob, we will miss you.
Sign, Bob Brown, Illustrator

11/22/2006 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Dee said...

Hi David,
I found a reproduction print on a work by Mr. Robert Heindel. The print is titled "Running Naturally." Can you tell me anything about this illustration?
It is signed by John Aaron Brown #55. I can only assume that Mr. Brown is one of the runners in Mr. Heindel's illustration?

palukita7@earthlink.net

8/24/2007 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Stephen Heigh said...

Bob Heindel was a great artist and one of those examples of creative people that you just can't put a label on and call him an illustrator alone. His work appealed to any painter,sculptor,photographer,or designer and for that matter anyone who appreciates beauty. The work he produced is timeless and that indicates a true master. His mastery over his vision is beyond what most can achieve. I never met Bob and he still touched my life with his beautiful work.
Thank You Bob.

8/26/2007 10:17 PM  
Blogger Vidyanand Kamat said...

Hi David,

I understood the Great Artist Robert Heindel from your blog and thankful to you for sharing the information and work of the great artist.

While clicking on the image to view the details of the art it shows Google Error. Will you able to guide me the reason behind it if you know or if you can share the Great Artist’s work by mailing me at kamat.vidyanand@gmail.com

Thanks,
Vidyanand Kamat
http://www.kamsillustrations.blogspot.com/

6/10/2008 9:47 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

this is my uncle.... rip uncle bob... i love you forever and thank you for inspiring my creative mind :)
<3 em

9/06/2009 1:39 AM  
Anonymous Keith Batcheller said...

I met Bob in the Fall of 1974. I was one of several graduate students selected by Art Center College of Design that where part of the first Illustrators Workshop. I was greatly influenced by the work of Bob Heindel. His passion and intensity for the creative process had a profound effect on all of us. Bob gave me one of his beautiful paintings back then and I proudly have it hanging in my home. He was a amazing artist and I will always remember his words of wisdom in helping me when I was starting my career as a Illustrator.

2/17/2010 2:12 AM  
Blogger Britt Taylor Collins said...

Illustration has surely gone the way of buggy whips. Mr. Heindel was among those of the Second Golden Age of Illustration, the first being the age of N.C. Wyeth, Leyendecker, Parrish and the like. I am heart sick to learn of his passing. He would hardly know the late nights in the university library that I spent reaching into his art for clues of his genius, trying to pry his secrets from the Illustration Annuals. God Bless the Illustrators. Fine art easel artists have nothing on a full-tilt boogie illustrator!

5/22/2010 10:04 AM  
Blogger Britt Taylor Collins said...

Illustration has surely gone the way of buggy whips. Mr. Heindel was among those of the Second Golden Age of Illustration, the first being the age of N.C. Wyeth, Leyendecker, Parrish and the like. I am heart sick to learn of his passing. He would hardly know the late nights in the university library that I spent reaching into his art for clues of his genius, trying to pry his secrets from the Illustration Annuals. God Bless the Illustrators. Fine art easel artists have nothing on a full-tilt boogie illustrator!

5/22/2010 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Craig Zuckerman said...

Great interview !-I got into the illustration business doing medical art in 1982. Yes, a very different world then ,indeed. Although my subject matter is different, I always aspired to be successful like Bob Heindel, Bob Peak, Bernie Fuchs, Wilson McLean, and all of those "studs", whose work regularly adorned the pages of the Illustrator's Annual. Those illustrators possessed drawing skills, use of color, page design that to this day is unmatched. Most artists today working in 3D, Photoshop, may not have made in back then. Those guys, and others will forever influence future artists. Thank you !-

4/15/2011 4:09 PM  
Anonymous bernie tate said...

An amazing painter/illustrator, Robert Heindel's imaginative style/s along with his contempories reached far and wide and the impact of their influence was immeasurable, such a cauldron of wonder and burning hot creativity. The news of his passing floors me, but what a legacy he leaves. This is one old aussie ex-illustrator who has always wished he was born in the States and had the op to hang over his shoulder.

5/23/2011 1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew bob..because I knew Rose

R.L.BUTLER, FRIEND, Denver

9/30/2011 9:49 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

R.I.P Robert you were a great painter

9/10/2012 1:35 PM  

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