Graphis Journal #360: Influential Illustrator turned Fine Artist, Bart Forbes Reveals His Greatest Challenge, and Influences

“Bart Forbes’ iconic work is second to none. As an illustrator, he defined an era with his unique style and technique.”Robert Crawford, Illustrator

Graphis Master Bart Forbes is an important American illustrator and fine art painter whose work can be seen in Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, on U.S Stamps, and more. He has done work for networks such as NBC and ABC, and in 1988 he was the official artist for the Summer Olympics. His paintings are in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and in June 2017, Bart Forbes was officially inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame recognizing distinguished achievements in the art of illustration.

His above work, “American Way Cover, Feb. 1971” was done for American Way Magazine under the art direction of our own publisher and creative director B. Martin Pedersen, and is one of many visually arresting works featured in the Graphis Journal #360.

“Americas Cup” (above) is also among the presented work along with fine art oil paintings. Graphis interviewed Bart Forbes in an insightful Q&A addressing philosophies about working for clients, how he moved from illustration to fine art, and some of his favorite people he’s worked with. A couple excerpts are below:

What is your work philosophy?

Since the time I started out in illustration in the 1960s, I have always tried to look at any project from this perspective:  What is the client trying to accomplish and how can I satisfy that while, at the same time, satisfying my own need to create work that I am proud of on an artistic level? If the client is too restrictive I will turn down the project.  If an artist makes too many concessions no one else will know that – and will simply believe the work is not very good.

What is the most difficult challenge that you have had to overcome?

The greatest challenge I have had came a few years ago when I decided to try moving from illustration into fine art, selling my work through galleries. I knew that it would be difficult to continue working in the same style I had used in illustration. So I began experimenting with a different direction. After so many years of painting with only subtle changes in technique, I struggled for a while to find an identity in my gallery work. But I am now comfortable with the direction I took – and it has been successful – although still a work in progress.

Read the Bart Forbes Q&A in Journal #360!

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