Monday, December 31, 2007

Get toasted for 2008

Detail, untitled holiday painting, ca. 1951.
These stemware sophisticates also appear on a t-shirt

Sketch, ca. 1951, featuring a draft of the celebratory duo

Friday, December 28, 2007

a little something to wake the neighbors

Detail, March 1943 Columbia-Okeh Popular Records
monthly flyer
; panel: Harry James

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Self-Portrait, tempera on paper, ca. mid- to late-1940s.

Update OCT 2008: Now available as a limited edition fine art print.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


untitled modular tempera, ca. 1960s

Sunday, December 16, 2007

macrocephalic bovine

Detail, March 1943 Columbia-Okeh Popular Records monthly flyer
panel: Okeh Country Dance, Folk Songs, and Blues

Friday, December 14, 2007

sketchbook, 1950s

Untitled sketches and figures from sketchbook, ca. early 1950s.

The hungry fellow on the bottom looks familiar:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

extraterrestrial curiosity

Detail from untitled painting, ca. 1960s
Another detail appears here

Monday, December 10, 2007

science geek 3

Illustration, "The Challenge of Frontier Products Development"
Research and Engineering magazine, cover detail, July 1956

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bubbly Buddies and Bix & Tram t-shirts

Now on eBay: The "Bubbly Buddies" design (above, adapted from an early 1950s Christmas montage painted by Flora), and "Bix and Tram" (below, featuring caricatures from a 1947 Columbia Records album cover).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Flora goes Grammy?

Quartet San Francisco's 2007 CD, Whirled Chamber Music, has been nominated for a Grammy in the category Best Classical Crossover Album. This might be the first-ever album with a Flora cover to earn a Grammy nod.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Jim Flora ink

Since early 2006, Jim Flora Art has partnered with a hip Minneapolis screen printing shop called Aesthetic Apparatus. Dan Ibarra and Mike Byzewski of AA first produced a Mambo For Cats edition of 200, then a Pete Jolly Duo edition of 125. Both prints featured classic Flora 1955 RCA Victor LP covers. A month ago we launched the Primer for Prophets series.

JFA didn't just hire these guys off a Google search—besides their meticulousness and penchant for perfection, the AA team are Floraphiles eager to continue producing new Flora screen print projects. They are also NICE. We like NICE, and we prefer working with NICE.

Here's a video clip of Dan and Mike at work (on a non-Flora project). Their job sounds tortuous.

HT: the so-nice Sara Soskolne

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy Horns t-shirt

Jim Flora Art LLC just launched the latest in our line of upper body haute couture: the Jim Flora "Happy Horns" t-shirt. The illustration—a jazz buff making cozy with a clarinet and sax—originally appeared on a 1942 record shop retail banner showcasing "Columbia Album Favorites." Our previous shirts were digitally printed. The "Horn Buddies" shirt is our first silk-screened piece of fashionwear.

We also modified a previous shirt: the "Hot Notes" design (featuring a 1941 department store illustration), previously produced on white cotton, is now available in gray as well.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Primer for Prophets prints now on eBay

The long-awaited series of fine-art screen prints PRIMER FOR PROPHETS are now available on eBay. Very cool Flora illustrations of the American nuclear family (and their weird pets) during the 1950s, when people had fried-egg eyes, dog food tins were edible, and teens grew bonus legs!

Subtitled "A Flora '50s A-B-C," the images derive from a 1954 trade-only alphabet booklet titled Primer for Prophets that Flora illustrated for CBS-TV. The booklet was not circulated to the public, but was intended to attract corporate advertisers to the emerging medium of television. Each page featured iconic Flora illustrations of past-tense verbs (A to Z) that reflected daily activities of the typical American family, suggesting products they would purchase.

The first four prints produced are "ATE," "DROVE," "JIVED," and "SMOKED." They are available as single prints or as a set.

The PRIMER series was produced in a limited edition of 100 by Minneapolis screen studio Aesthetic Apparatus. Production specs are detailed in the eBay listings. Each print is hand-numbered and authenticated.

Over the next few years, we'll extend the series to cover the entire alphabet. The PRIMER illustrations reflect Flora at his post-war commercial peak. That same year, he began illustrating RCA Victor album covers, creating some of his most popular images (such as Mambo for Cats). The PRIMER characters are consistent with the best of his RCA album sleeves.

NOTE: The 10-day eBay listings for these prints have expired, but the prints are now available through The above links go directly to the individual print pages on the site.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

fragmented violinist

untitled illustration, business card, 1950s

Monday, November 19, 2007

critter chemistry

Detail, Grand Opening Migraine, a.k.a., Behind the Green Door
(both titles penciled on reverse)
painting, ca. 1974

Friday, November 9, 2007

Organizational Quotient

Compiling a resumé?

Illustration, Research & Engineering, April 1956

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Waltz Time

Waltz Time, pen and ink on card stock
n/d (early 1990s), titled in pencil

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jim Flora greeting cards

Now on eBay:
Spanky new from Jim Flora Art LLC and Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress, Knoxville: three different sets of four unique cards each. The cards are hand-printed letterpress on recycled paper and come bundled with kraft envelopes in a clear sleeve. Fun to mail, funner to receive, but also klassy-kool for framing.
Above: quartet of 1955 hepcats from the "Plant You Now, Dig You Later" set. Below, the "Deluxe-O-Tone" line of retro-record players (1940s- and 1950s-era):
Here's the "Stardust" series (1954 illustrations):

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

boats, bird

Detail, Baltimore, tempera on paper, ca. mid-1960s

Saturday, October 20, 2007

science geek 2

"Industrial Research in Europe 1955"
Research & Engineering magazine, cover element
October-November 1955

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mardi Gras figure study

Detail, Mardi Gras figure studies
ca. early 1950s, tempera on paper

Sketches, full study, and completed color series
included in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora

Monday, October 15, 2007

Flora Does Esquivel

Almost. The Flora pretzel-ized trumpet that graces the cover of this rare RCA Victor Living Stereo "cartridge magazine" originally appeared in 1958 on the back cover of the LP Portrait of Shorty Rogers. The illustration was recycled by RCA Victor's art department on this 1960 Esquivel package, whose format was the (failed) forerunner of the cassette.

The LP version of this classic album by the Mexican maestro had a completely different photographic cover. RCA also marketed a consumer cartridge recorder, demonstrated here.

HT: Jeffrey (Dr. Ashtray) Ferguson, who discovered this on eBay in 2006.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jim Flora 2008 calendars

Jim Flora Art LLC is offering three hand-printed 2008 calendars: swingin' sax, boogie-beat drummer, and starlite moon. We have a limited number (30 each) to sell. That's it. It's not a numbered edition — 500 backing cards each were printed by Yee-Haw Industries (Knoxville), but due to scheduling demands, the production team could only finish a few hundred calendars for retail boutiques. JFA LLC received 30 sets for our customers.

Sales are first-come, first-served. Each calendar costs $12.50 + s/h (see below). We accept checks and PayPal (

The backing cards are letterpress printed on recycled stock, measuring 10" x 4-1/2". The attached calendar, with 12 pull-off pages, measures 3-1/4" x 4-1/2". The Jim Flora illustrations date from the mid-1950s. Those little flyspecks you see around the images are a natural byproduct of the hand-printing process.

These cards have been distributed by Yee-Haw to select boutiques, but we don't have a list. One difference: unlike the cards sold in shops, our small stock has been authenticated on the back with the Jim Flora Art LLC seal. Instant collectible. And useful: it contains ALL 12 of your FAVORITE MONTHS, in correct sequence (four years ahead of schedule)! Guaranteed to include YOUR BIRTHDAY as well as those of your family and friends, or your money back! Pin-up hole included at no extra charge!

With the balance of the print run, Yee-Haw will produce the same line in 2009. But if you can't wait, we've got a handful. There's no limit per customer, while supplies last.

UPDATE (10/24): We are no longer accepting orders via the blog. The remaining stock is available thru a 10-day Buy-It-Now auction on eBay, after which the item will be listed in the Jim Flora Art eBay store.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

science geek 1

Illustration, "Human Engineering: Tailoring the Machine to the Man"
Research and Engineering magazine, February 1956

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Demonstrated commitment!

Floraphile Shannon Wade, of Portland, isn't content to admire Flora art in books, on album covers, or displayed on walls. It's not enough for her to wear it. She wants to BE it. Shannon combined elements from two of Flora's more well-known album cover illustrations—the Pete Jolly Duo and Mambo for Cats—into some nifty skin art. Design-in-progress (at right), with color added (below).

Shannon writes:

"This was my first tattoo, and it was done in Austin about seven years ago by a wonderful tattoo artist, Chris Gunn.

"I first saw Jim Flora's work a few years before that in Eric Kohler's book In the Groove. I was hooked from the start, and no one was happier than I when his stuff started appearing on eBay. I've collected most of my favorite covers, but I'm still desperately seeking the Pete Jolly Duo.

"I wanted a tattoo for many many years but was determined to wait for just the right image. Then I saw Flora's work. I asked the artist to combine elements from Mambo for Cats and Pete Jolly Duo. It's a bit simpler in design than the originals, the colors are different and the motion lines have been embellished, but I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It took three two-and-a-half hour sessions to finish—one black session and two color sessions. It didn't hurt as bad as you might think. Folks ask me about it all the time, which always gives me a chance to spread the word about Jim Flora."

Update AUG 6, 2009: More about Jim Flora images and tattoos.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The weirdest ...

... "Jim Flora" exact phrase search result. And maybe the only time this blog will have one degree of separation from Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Posts about buildings and food

Flora was a failed architecture student. He had to forego a scholarship to the Boston Architectural League in 1933 due to Depression-era financial constraints—he was too tired to attend classes after shifts as a busboy. ("I earned seven dollars a week plus meals and had to work the entire day—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This meant that I could not attend classes. Late in October the school said they could no longer hold my scholarship open.")

Throughout his artistic life, many of Flora's iconic illustrations, paintings, and woodcuts displayed an idiosyncratic passion for structures. Above is a slightly edited frontage montage from his 1964 children's book My Friend Charlie.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flora exhibit photos

Fantagraphics has posted photos from the September 22 opening of the Flora exhibit.

So has Ward Jenkins. (Who also journals.)

And David Lasky.

The exhibit runs through October 24.

(Note: Flora co-archivist Barbara Economon could not attend the opening due to a family emergency.)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Flora takes Seattle

The cover of the Weekly, anyway (print edition, September 19-25 issue), in conjunction with the just-opened exhibition at Fantagraphics Bookstore/Gallery.

The illustration is a detail from Flora's 1954 RCA Victor LP cover Shorty Rogers Courts the Count. The Weekly's Fall Arts section includes this nifty Flora cavalcade and a dozen interior spot placements:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 finally updated!

Long overdue. Sorry. Not that anyone was expecting apologies. Please visit.

Lots of new content: 63rd Street fine art print page; Fantagraphics Gallery exhibit poster; more LP covers that are commonly mistaken for Flora designs; and a progress report on the Primer for Prophets series. The Railroad Town page has been updated. We also corrected typos, fixed broken links, and rearranged the furniture. You almost wouldn't recognize the place, except that it's still populated with strange Flora characters.

In fact, those strange Florabeasts seem to be EVERYWHERE lately!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sept 22 "master piece"

Pencil sketch, ca. 1988-1991. Purpose unknown, but presumably an invitation to some festiveness at the Flora home. Coincidentally, the above date marks the opening reception for our Jim Flora exhibit at the Fantagraphics Bookstore/Gallery. If you're in Seattle on that date, you're invited! Exhibit runs thru October 24 and features original paintings, fine art prints, woodcut relief prints, record covers, music ephemera, and Little Man Press artifacts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1948 Flora

"My days were peaceful and sheltered, my time generously idled away on pleasantries of no consequence—until Flora entered my life."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

vintage Flora print now on eBay

Jim Flora Art LLC has listed on eBay a vintage hand-colored relief print of a 1954 Flora woodcut entitled Manhattan. The print was color-filled (with either tempera or watercolor), signed, titled, and matted by the artist.

The cityscape depicts many NYC landmarks, such as the Empire State Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the UN, Madison Square Garden, the Statue of Liberty, famous theaters and legendary musical bistros, Washington Square arch, a NY public library lion, subways, taxis, horse-drawn carriages and tourists.

An unknown number of Manhattan prints were gift-wrapped by the artist for gallery sale back in the 1950s. The print being auctioned remains sealed by tape. Several Manhattan prints are in the family collection, but this is the only one which will be auctioned, and there are no immediate plans to sell the remaining prints.

Update 1: Auction drew 24 bids, closed at $1,610.00.

Update 2: Message received. Due to popular demand, we will be issuing a limited edition giclée of this work. People feel nostalgic about New York in the 1950s. Who knew?

Update 3: Like magic: done.

Monday, September 3, 2007

coffin sketch

Untitled, undated pencil drawing on onionskin paper; later printed in Gup, a 1942 chapbook authored by Robert Lowry, issued by Little Man Press (Cincinnati), featuring cover and interior illustrations by Flora.