See “Searle in America” in San Francisco

British illustrator Ronald Searle (1920-2011) has had an immeasurable influence on the animation industry. It’s hard to quantify his impact on animation, but if I had to, I would guess that at least a quarter of all the development art created for feature animation nowadays bears Searle’s influence, either indirectly filtered down through other artists like Milt Kahl and Tom Oreb or directly inspired by his work. This staggering contemporary ‘tribute’ to Searle’s art, however, hasn’t done anything to diminish his own prodigious output, which stands apart for its inventiveness and spirit of graphic exploration.

A taste of Searle’s vast body of work is currently on display at the Cartoon Art Museum’s new exhibit, “Searle in America.” The exhibit, which focuses on his reportage assignments in the United States was organized by Pixar story artist and Searle Tribute blog curator Matt Jones. It will be on display through March 30, 2014:

Ronald Searle spent over a decade between the late-’50s and late-60s traveling extensively on reportage assignments for the premier magazines of the day: Life, Holiday, Look, Venture, Travel & Leisure. It was a golden era of illustration, where magazines had sizable budgets to send illustrators to exotic locations and commission substantial spreads of artwork. Searle followed the Nixon/Kennedy campaign trail, drew on the sets of TV shows such as Bonanza, Bewitched and F-Troop. He depicted the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Tour. He had his pens freeze while sketching in Alaska and sketched the casinos of Reno, Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Concurrent with the Searle exhibit, the San Francisco-based Cartoon Art Museum also has a pair of exhibits that focus on more contemporary illustrators: “Sam and Max—Swift and Mirthful Justice: The Art of Steve Purcell” and “Grains of Sand: 25 Years of The Sandman.” Hours and admission prices are listed on the museum’s website.


  • Matt Jones

    Thanks for plugging the show Amid-we also put together a spiffy catalogue to go with it featuring all the Searle pictures in the show plus the 70 odd pieces donated by friends for the fundraiser auction I staged to mount the exhibition. Available in the museum shop.

  • Matt Jones

    Thanks for the plug Amid. We also produced a spiffy catalogue featuring the 50 Searle pics in the show plus the 70 odd pieces of donated art by animation/cartoonist friends that we auctioned to help raise funds to mount the shop. Available from the museum shop-

  • Philip Vose

    good good show. highly recommended for anyone looking to be inspired..

  • mick

    Ronald Searle is the absolute king. His corners have dust in them, you can smell his pictures. I hope we will but I do not expect we’ll see his like again. Matt, dear fellow, make a big fat coffee table book and I will definitely buy a coffee table, if there is any money left I’ll buy the book too

  • Matt Jones

    Mick, coffee table book will be the next project-hope to get some crowd funded backing.