Godfather of Vector Art (to me, at least)

Darlene thinks it’d be cool to share with you readers some of my artistic influences. Wow. I could blog each day for a year and probably not get to all of them. But one artist comes to mind who’s perfect for me to start this occasional series: Charles Harper.

I will find you, oh yes. One day...!

I remember the first time I saw Charley’s work — it was in the library of my next door neighbor, Oscar “Ozz” Warbach. (Also an artistic influence; see page 99 in Cool Jerk Vol. 2: Chickadoowa) Ozz had the book The Animal Kingdom, which Harper illustrated. I must’ve borrowed that book from Ozz a half-dozen times throughout second grade. In fact, we second graders had to create a marketplace in our classroom and each of us had to come up with a product to sell. I made laminated placemats with illustrations of animals on them. Yes, I “swiped” my style from Harper. But I didn’t trace or lightbox! Swear!

Lizard defenses (one of my favorites)

Charley Harper bustin' vectors old skool, yo.

The Animal Kingdom has been out of print for decades, and Harper died in 2007. Luckily, he was still alive when AMMO Books started their Charley Harper — An Illustrated Life tome, which features hundreds of Harper’s best work and a long conversation with the man. That was the only thing I wanted for my birthday last year, and Darlene got it for me. I recommend it highly.

I regard Harper as the Godfather of Vector Art, which is a misnomer on its face because Charley never used the computer to generate his mathematically perfect geometric paintings. Yes, you can pick your jaw up off the keyboard/iPad — that’s all natural media, Holmes. I wonder if the creators of Adobe Illustrator, Aldus FreeHand and other vector drawing applications weren’t influenced by Harper’s work.

  1. R. Horn says:

    Ahh, the memories you have made me revisit, Paul! Beautiful job… And, Ozz was one of the most prolific of mentors you had during your Haslett days. How sweet a man he was!

  2. kyle says:

    You’re good. Your graphics are awesome.


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