A Tour at Readers’ Digest

all images, Kevin Sprouls

When I was at the Wall Street Journal, helping them to produce those “hedcut” portraits for the paper, I got a call one day. On the telephone was a man named Murray Miller. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in paying him a visit at his office at the Readers’ Digest in midtown. Being an eager young illustrator, I naturally said I would. When I met Murray, he immediately introduced me to the occupant of the next office space, Chuck Chestnut. I still find these rather whimsical appellations. After viewing my slim portfolio of artwork, these amiable chaps thought it would be a splendid idea to assign me a project.

These two were then in charge of a special published offering of RD called “First Day of Issue”. This was a collectible series of art embellished postmarked envelopes, marking the issue of newly printed post-office stamps. Here is an example:

I would create the image for these envelopes, such as the Presidential Medal illustrated here.

The very first assignment was an image of the celebrated early 20th century poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. (I recalled liking her work in high school.) At the time, I was living with my folks out in the burbs, and had a drafting table in the basement, where I produced this piece.

Murray and Chuck became fans of my work and kept me busy for a couple of years in the early 1980’s.

Eleanor Roosevelt depicted here. You may be able to detect a bit of texture in the white background. Back in those days, we graphics types used a lot of rubber cement! I was then working on a thin, smooth paper stock which was affixed to board using this yellowing agent!

Below, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, pinning on a medal. This issue was in celebration of Special Olympics.

Next time, I will have more on this topic, with illustrations of course– stay tuned!

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