Monday, May 2, 2011

Illustrator Mark English

Illustrator Mark English (b. 1933) holds the distinction of being the most awarded illustrator in the history of the Society of Illustrators in New York. Born in Texas, he escaped working in cotton fields to become a sign painter. He then studied at the University of Texas and went on to graduate in 1960 from The Art Center College in Los Angeles.

Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Mark English's work appeared in publications like McCalls, Time and Redbook. He produced numerous magazine covers as well as the iconic illustration above, for the Who album, Tommy.

English's illustrations are an instantly recognizable mixture of paint and pastel, hard-edged geometry and rich modeling, and dark backgrounds with ghostly translucent highlights.

In 1983, Mark English was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in New York.

For a number of years, Mark English was associated with the O'Grady Gallery, and in 1995 his career segued into gallery exhibitions all around the world.

Below is a more recent painting ...

Today Mark English lives in Kansas City, Missouri. More of his recent paintings can be found at his website, here.


  1. Wow! I knew most of the images, but not the story behind them. Thanks for filling me in.

  2. Mark, you have posted on one of my favourite illustrators! Mark English and Bob Peake do it for me every time.

  3. I'm always fascinated and impressed by how the artist continues to explore and experiment throughout its life. Your subject is a very fine example. Thank you for introducing him.

  4. What talent and what originality.

  5. Thanks for visiting, Theresa, David, Anyes and Gina. I find it interesting that some artist work light to dark and others have a greater affinity for creating dark to light. The 1960s saw a number of popular artists, like English, who coaxed highlights out of complete darkness.

  6. I can understand this kind of "English" very well. Aren't they marvellous? I'm sure I've seen his work many times before, but never knew the name of this creator. Original, original, original. And hauntingly beautiful.

    Another example of the work of an illustrator being much better than the work of many so called "artists." Call me old fashioned, I still like representational. What an exceptional degree of technical expertise. WOW!

  7. It's interesting, though, that professional creators of representational art often retire to create more abstract images for themselves.