Classic Wall Street Journal Illustration

You may know me as the originator of the classic Wall Street Journal illustration style called the Hedcut portrait. I joined WSJ at the end of 1979 and developed the style that’s recognized around the world today. But, that was a while ago, and things change. The following selections were all (but one) published in the Journal during my tenure. (There are so many more!)

Classic Wall Street Journal Illustration from the Golden Age

Let’s start with two Thatchers…

Headcut Portrait of a Thatcher

Headcut Portrait of a Thatcher

Here is a gent who installs thatched roofs in Great Britain, from a WSJ human interest story on page one.

Hedcut Portrait of Margaret Thatcher

Hedcut Portrait of Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, the British Conservative Party’s champion and Prime Minister during those days. I feel this is an outstanding portrait. I don’t quite understand why this illustration was so successful, as I was not a big fan of the PM.

Classic Hedcut of a Woman

Classic Hedcut Portrait of a Woman

A classic hedcut of a woman. Note the rounded cropping. This was to compliment her hair. A slight departure from protocol.

Hedcut Portrait of John Lee Hooker

Hedcut Portrait of John Lee Hooker

This image of John Lee Hooker likely appeared in the Arts and Leisure ‘section’. (I recall this part of the paper being one, maybe two pages during that time.)

Hedcut Portrait of the Three Stooges

Hedcut Portrait of the Three Stooges

How these guys got into the WSJ I just can’t recall! I experimented with using horizontal lines to create a unifying effect.

Hedcut Portrait of African President

Hedcut Portrait of African President

A noble African president. I illustrated some not-so-noble ones, too…

Hedcut Portrait of P. W. Botha

Hedcut Portrait of P. W. Botha

Here is one of the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky.

Hedcut Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky.

Hedcut Portrait of Wassily Kandinsky.

Hedcut Portrait of a coarse fisherman

Hedcut Portrait of a coarse fisherman

A favorite of mine, this is an illustration of a British coarse fisherman. I thought the subject and the setting were captivating, so I spent some time giving it a proper polishing. It is also signed—- can you spot it?

Well, Dear Reader, that was what I consider the Golden Age of The Wall Street Journal. It was all black and white, and only (with very rare exception) adorned by Illustration. We had to hire more artists to keep up with demand, and I taught them and guided them in the technique I pioneered.

Fast-forward to 2007: The Bancroft family, who owned the paper for many years, sold it to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The venerable old broadsheet now resembles many another splashy, sensationalist newspaper, alas. The illustrations are still present, though they are somewhat diminished by their oversized, full-color photographic competitors.

Classic Wall Street Journal Illustration for the New York Times

Which brings me to the point of this post! When News Corp. purchased the paper, The New York Times called me one afternoon to see if I would ‘crash out’ a hedcut of Rupert Murdoch. How could I refuse? I made the drawing to run in the paper at a fairly large size. Here it is:

Hedcut Portrait of Rupert Murdoch

Hedcut Portrait of Rupert Murdoch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *