Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life

Charley Harper

Man, I can’t wait for this one! Ammo Books is getting ready to release what could become one of the must-have books of recent times: a humongous monograph on mid-century illustration legend Charley Harper. The project was initiated by fashion designer Todd Oldham who discovered Harper’s work in 2001 and has been collaborating with Harper since then to put together this book. What’s particularly exciting is that it looks like Ammo and Oldham are doing this right: the format is huge (17×12 inches) and if the cover is any indication, it’s going to be packed with visual goodness. As far as I know, Harper never worked in animation, but his work has inspired countless animation artists from 1950s-era designer Cliff Roberts to Samurai Jack background painter Scott Wills. Animator Nate Pacheco was even trying to translate Harper’s designer into Flash animation last year.

The 420-page hardcover book is scheduled for release in June, and retails for a steep $200 but is only $126 at Amazon. There are also four limited edition versions of the book (each $400) which come with a silkscreen print.

Here’s more about the book from the Ammo website:

Charley Harper is an American original. At 84, Charley continues to make art in his studio in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is beloved for his delightful, graphic and often humorous illustrations of nature, animals, insects and people alike. Charley likes to say, that when he paints a bird, he doesn’t count all the feathers in the wings – he just counts the wings. Minimal realism, he calls it, and his unique and precise style continues to resonate and inspire his admirers.

Charley Harper – An Illustrated Life, showcases his illustrations that appeared from 1950-1975 in the Ford Times magazines, as well as in books such as the beloved “The Giant Golden Book of Biologyâ€? in 1961, “Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Twoâ€? in 1961, and “ The Animal Kingdomâ€? in 1968, among many others. His well loved book “Birds and Wordsâ€?, first published in 1974, is considered a classic.

To see a preview of the type of art that will be in the book, check out this nice online collection of Harper’s work.

Charley Harper illustration