Friday, October 31, 2008

deviltry ascendent

Illustration, "When the Night Wind Howls," by W.S. Gilbert, anthologized in A Red Skel(e)ton In Your Closet: Ghost Stories—Gay and Grim, selected and edited by actor/comic Red Skelton. The cover of this 1965 children's book was illustrated by the great Al Hirschfeld. The dozen-plus interior illustrations are unsigned and uncredited, but they reflect the unmistakable mischief of Mr. Flora.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

loan shark

Commercial illustration, late 1950s, publication unknown. Tempera mechanical found in the Flora archives. The illustration's theme has contemporary resonance in the wake of the subprime meltdown.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Great Freight Cartel

"The Great U.S. Freight Cartel" (detail), Fortune magazine, January 1957. The full original 14" x 5-1/2" tempera work was preserved by the artist and is stored—in great condition–in the Flora archives. It's one of the earliest extant original commercial illustrations in the collection. Of the hundreds of works-for-hire rendered by Flora for dozens of magazines during the 1940s and early 1950s, all that remain are periodical reproductions. From the late 1950s on, a sizable number of original illustrations and mechanicals were retained by the artist.

Friday, October 24, 2008

men vs. dragons

Untitled tempera illustration for unknown magazine, March 1958.

Stamped on reverse: "kill" — which doesn't refer to the dragon or the knight-in-a-necktie. It refers to the drawing, which was rejected for unknown reasons.

An earlier throwdown:

Monday, October 20, 2008


Another vintage Flora illustration adorns a record cover: Charles Wuorinen's Duos CD (Albany Records, January 2009 scheduled release). The untitled tempera of pink, green, and brown criss-crossing pedestrians dates from the early 1960s. The CD joins a growing gallery of new releases carrying the Flora album cover tradition into the 21st century.

Thanks to Howard Stokar, executive producer of the CD, for requesting the cover image.

Update (Jan. 12): CD now available.

Friday, October 17, 2008

canoe critters

This untitled tempera from the mid-1960s is currently in production as a silk-screen print by Aesthetic Apparatus, based in Minneapolis. It will be released with a companion print—different theme, but identical color palette. Both works, previously uncirculated, were discovered in a sketchbook in the Flora archives. We'll post the other print shortly.

Aesthetic Apparatus produced our Mambo For Cats and Pete Jolly Duo LP cover screen prints, as well as our Primer for Prophets series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Head Harbor Light

Pen & ink with tempera, year unknown (ca. early 1990s). One of countless water's edge works in the collection. Flora lived on Long Island Sound, loved boats, loved the seaside, and drew inspiration from all.

Head Harbor Lighthouse, built from heavy timber in 1829, sits on Campobello Island in New Brunswick. It was the summer home of FDR.

Friday, October 10, 2008

that Latin Jazz stamp

A number of Floraphiles have alerted us to a new US Postal Service stamp commemorating Latin Jazz (issued September 8, 2008). They assert that: 1) the artist is, to put it kindly, "imitating Flora," or 2) Flora himself designed the stamp.

The stamp was illustrated by Michael Bartalos, a talented artist who would not deny a Flora influence -- in fact, he was friends with Jim. Arguably it is Bartalos to whom we owe the Flora renaissance. He "discovered" a largely forgotten Flora in retirement in 1992, and subsequently brought JD King into contact with the artist. It was JD who, in turn, introduced me to Flora in 1997. Thus evolved the Flora Underground, and the subsequent revival and cottage industry. Michael penned an eloquent reminiscence about his first meeting with the illustration legend in our book The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora.

The Latin Jazz design was assigned to Mike by Dick Sheaff, a (recently retired) USPS art director who is also a veteran Floraphile. Dick told me that when the assignment crossed his desk, he regretted that Flora wasn't alive to design it, so he turned to another exponent of a similar style of illustration. While the stamps remain available, they can be purchased online at

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jugglers edition

The Jugglers woodcut limited edition was completed last May, but we've been too preoccupied with other Flora business to release the work.

A Jugglers page has finally been posted at and the first five numbered prints are now available. In the next week or two, we hope to enact an official launch. The print was produced by Bryan Baker at Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress, Knoxville. The work appears on page 58 in The Curiously Sinister Art of Jim Flora.

This is the second 1950s Flora woodcut which we have offered in a limited edition, following Railroad Town in 2007.