Illustrations: Joe De Mers

Joe De Mers (1910-1988) was an American production artist who spent most of the 1930s working at Warner Brothers, creating production art, before moving onto illustration. In New York, he found massive success with the Charles E. Cooper studio, where he became one of their star artists. His work has appeared in Woman’s Own and Woman in Great Britain, as well as becoming a regular in The Saturday Evening Post, McCalls and The Ladies Home Journal. (Lifestyle Illustration of the ’60s. Edited by Rian Hughes. 2010)

Joe de Mers - Bachelor In Distress, 1954
Joe de Mers - Bachelor In Distress, 1954

 

These pictures are not to everybody’s taste: there’s an interesting argument here about their artistic merits. For me, not being a trained artist or really having a clue what I’m talking about, they are enough to bring me happiness when I look at them.  I do find them pretty to look at and, really, what’s so terribly wrong about that?

Joe De Mers - The Melody Lingers On, 1952
Joe De Mers - The Melody Lingers On, 1952

“She had tried to forget him, knowing he would bring her nothing but heartbreak. But as he played that night, she heard the music pouring forth the old, old magic of a love song.”

Joe De Mers - Christmas Morning, 1954
Joe De Mers - Christmas Morning, 1954
Joe De Mers - The Hidden Heart, 1956
Joe De Mers - The Hidden Heart, 1956

 How could she expect him to return her love, when she was afraid to show she even cared?

My favourite caption accompanies this one:

Joe De Mers - Fathers are Such Fun, 1965
Joe De Mers - Fathers are Such Fun, 1965

Fathers are Such Fun. They should be, they don’t have to cope with the children all day!

It’s quite different from his usual style, but it is from a much later period and the story it accompanies is also quite unusual in it’s tone. Usually, they’re about women and men falling in love in various circumstances – not about a married couple coping with their children. Perhaps it reflects the change in viewpoint between the 1950s and 1960s?

Not only was Joe De Mers one of the more famous and proflific illustrators, he also mentored other well-known artists. There are some fantastic sources of information on him around the internet. Some excellent places to continue with are:

  • Today’s Inspiration Blog
  • American Art Archives – Page on Pepsi ads featuring Joe De Mers
  • Curtis Publishing – Leading Ladies which also has a free pdf download featuring some of Joe De Mers’ artwork.
  • Pinups by Joe De Mers

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