Tuesday, January 22, 2013


This post is one in a series on the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum,  State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle. 

 Peter de Seve is internationally renowned for his draftsmanship in illustrations such as this one, for which he won the Hamilton King award from the Society of Illustrators:

More than draftsmanship, de Seve infuses his drawings with personality and heart which have made him a recurring favorite on the cover of the New Yorker.  This poignant cover of little children on the first Halloween following the 9/11 attacks stood out in a field of artistic responses that were mostly political, or cerebral, or anguished. 

For Howard Pyle's generation, painting magazine covers was as prestigious a career as an illustrator might hope for.  But 100 years after Howard Pyle, illustration offers all kinds of new venues for an artist's talent.  A digitally animated feature film requires the collaboration of hundreds of artists, writers and computer engineers relying on millions of dollars of corporate funding and a multinational distribution network.  But at their core, animated movies depend upon a few individual artists with a special talent for facial expressions, body types and personalities to design the characters that other artists implement.

The movie industry quickly recognized de Seve's abilities and has summoned him to work on a number of feature films as a "character designer."

He won the Emmy Award for outstanding character design on Sesame Street's Abby Cadabby's Flying Fairy School and a  Clio award for a Nike commercial. He worked on films such as Mulan and Finding Nemo, but mostly he is known for his character designs on the Ice Age series of movies:


De Seve works out faces for his characters

De Seve once said, "I'm an old fashioned illustrator... I love strong, firm craftsmanship...  The funny thing is that for all the studios' technical expertise, I'm still the guy who is drawing on paper."

These and other original works by de Seve will be on display at the Delaware exhibition. 


Anonymous said...

One of my favorites.


Tom said...

I like the quote David, it remains me of Zen and the Art of Archery, "it's never the bow, it's always the archer."

MORAN said...

I had to take down that 9/11 cover from my wall because my girlfriend used to start crying whenever she saw it.

etc, etc said...

Obviously more reliant on imagination than photographic references (and that's the way it should be as far as I'm concerned). Is this factoring in to your selection of each artist, David?

Anonymous said...

I've been jealous of DeSeve for many years now, that talented and personable (from what I gather) bastard!

Ken Meyer Jr.

David Apatoff said...

JSL-- I've heard from many who feel the same way.

Tom-- Perhaps it's not surprising, but a great many people (including Milton Glaser who I covered a few days ago) seem to agree that no matter how far technology takes us, at the core remains an artist with a pencil.

MORAN-- Yes, that one tugs at your heart in a way that some of the angrier 9/11 pictures no longer do. If you bring your girlfriend to the Delaware show, better tell her to bring a tissue.

David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc-- I had no problem with artists who employ photographs or computers-- there has been too much great work done by both to try to exclude it. But my threshold test for inclusion was that each of these artists had to be able to draw; they had to have the power in their fingertips to make marks on a surface, and to understand design and composition. In my experience, artists who lack that ability, who skip over that discipline and go right to altering photographs with computer programs, never end up doing anything interesting. Corel's Painter software may help aspiring artists with its "divine proportion tool," but you won't find anyone who uses such a tool in this exhibition.

Anonymous-- I can vouch for that "personable" part.

Alicia Conway said...

Your works arise such warm feelings. I can't but smile looking at them. Gorgeous!
Recently, I've come across interesting works of an artist who does stand out of the others:
A little bit of art.

Luca Carey said...

Love the 9/11 picture, and it is refreshing to see something not shamelessly selling the negative aspects. It's also very ironic how the guy without the sintiq is the one obsessed with craftsmanship. I think this is why they make us work only traditional in foundations; pain as it is to hear, you only appreciate those clean computer lines and grids after you've had to construct them by hand.

A-toon illustration said...

I really enjoyed this series! Excellent illustrations!

bill said...

Oh he is good and generous. I remember him going out of his way to make me comfortable at my first SI opening. He was a juror for the last Spectrum annual. Once again he spent the time to compliment my work and he doesn't even know me. And man can he draw.