A Tour of Readers’ Digest, cont’d.

all images, Kevin Sprouls

I am amazed, looking back, at how much work I actually produced for RD as a freelance illustrator. I was moonlighting while working away at my day job at the Wall Street Journal.
The next image may shock you— it is unretouched, and shows the vagaries of age and abuse! Evidently, something was spilled onto the artwork during the intervening years between now and then…
Again, for a “First Day Cover” stamped envelope, a metal box like this was used to request books from the library. Pretty archaic, yet so quaint.

I used to have a personalized sticker that I would affix to the dust flaps before delivering my art boards— some of the early stuff still bears this design…

Back in the day, if you bought into a subscription to receive the first day covers, Readers’ Digest would send you a collectable binder supplement which included the cancelled stamp issue plus an illustrated description of the issue’s topic. I did a number of portraits for these supplementary articles, some of my best portraits to date. Here are images of Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius (Father of the Bauhaus movement in Germany):

Back to art for the envelopes, here are three more: a Bottle of Rosewater, a Shot of Douglas Fairbanks (or is that Barrymore?), and one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The last one for now is an iconic image of the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I remember drawing this one at the kitchen table of a ramshackle beachfront house that my gang used to call “411”, on Long Beach Island, in New Jersey. I’ll tell you about 411 in the next installment— I hope you won’t miss it.

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