John Thompson: From Art Director to Well-known Illustrator

“This is something that I hadn’t done yet,” — were the words of illustrator John Thompson after seeing his original artwork on the stamps of Postal Service of the United States. That was only one among hundreds of his projects, that he worked at Syracuse University and working on now, in spite of other activities.

Illustrator of posters, books, postmarks, ads, and another type of art works being published in the famous worldwide editions, that he could be proud of. Let’s make a small review of the John Thompson multifaceted activity with a continuation of mentioned above artworks made for the U.S. Postal Service.

History of postal sketches creation

Dozens of days, hundred of sketches, six months of work and the four finished ones of Thompson’s paintings were selected to be featured on stamps. It was about the idea to show dogs helping people. Those artworks were created for the four 65-cent stamps released in 2012 by Postal Service of the United States, though it lasts four years since 2008 before the stamps saw the world (Paine, the art director of the Postal Service, was talking about creating those stamps almost in 2008). By the words from Thompson: ‘I am thrilled to have my work on these stamps’.

Becoming an illustrator

The story of becoming an illustrator has started in the early 1970s. John broke up with advertising and since that time started to paint, though his early illustration still occupied the television commercials and ads, varying from graphics to multiple images and coloured pop-up art. That passion for art and drawing was made out by his father influence. After graduation from Miami University, he started a career in advertising business being the art director of one of Chicago agencies.

His artworks can be found in such editions as Harper/Collins Publishing, Newsweek, Time magazine, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Playboy magazine; in Scholastic Books and Dial Books for Children; moreover, among his client were The U.S. Air Force, The U.S. Postal Service, NASA, Busch Beer, the Adolph Coors Company, Mobil Mystery Theatre, and The Ad Council.

Activity at the end of XX century

While travelling on leisure or for professional purposes he also does a series of illustrations, architecture and sceneries have passed into the older style and were replaced with the other type, including street-style details and human illustrating. An important period of his life was a professorship in Florence(Italy), working the Painting and Chair of the Studio Arts Program for 1 year (1998-99). In his focus was a painting of four Indian women in saris in front of San Marco (Venice).

Modern activity

A huge part of his life and career take a professorship at Syracuse University, where John was involved in the coordination of the Illustration Program, was a chair of the Visual Communications Department, and Program and Thesis Advisor of Independent Study Degree Program.

In 2005 the first of three India trips were made by John. He was thinking of it actually for the last 10 years. This country was already captured in Florence painting where he shows Indian women. He came back in 2007 and 2008.

His work has been featured in children’s books, advertising campaigns and several other projects. You can find and enjoy John works at his personal site.