(August 26, 1881—May 28, 1972) was an American
graphic artist. Although never formally credited as such, he served de facto
as the first art editor of The New Yorker
. He created the Eustace Tilley
cover portrait and the New Yorker typeface
. He first drew Tilley for the cover of the magazine's first issue on February 21, 1925. Tilley appeared annually on the magazine's cover every February until 1994.
As one commentator has written, "a truly modern bon vivant, Irvin (1881–1972) was also a keen appreciator of the century of his birth. His high regard for both the careful artistry of the past and the gleam of the modern metropolis shines from the very first issue of the magazine ..."
Cartoon for New Year 1917 caricatures how the holiday was noted 50 years earlier contrasted with contemporary celebrations
Cover of Life
magazine in 1913 showing a Greek-style scene of suffrage activists led by one resembling Susan B. Anthony
1916 illustration for a short story, "Why He Married Her"
ad by Rea Irvin, 1918
Before World War I
, Irvin contributed illustrations regularly to Life
, and rose to the position of art editor. (Life
the humorous weekly, and not to be confused with the more famous magazine of the same name published by Henry Luce
). Irvin also contributed to Cosmopolitan
when it was a serious literary publication. He illustrated Wallace Irwin's
"Letters of a Japanese Schoolboy" in Life
He would later incorporate Japanese
imagery in satirical kakemono
for The New Yorker
He was fired from his position as art editor at Life
He also contributed the illustrations for "Snoot If You Must," by Lucius Beebe
, a noted raconteur of New York's cafe society (1943, D. Appleton-Century).
Career at The New Yorker
However, Irvin had joined an advisory board to help launch The New Yorker
and then worked on the staff of The New Yorker
as an illustrator and art editor. The magazine's first cover, of a dandy
peering at a butterfly
through a monocle
, was drawn by Irvin; the dandy replaced at the last minute a drawing of theater curtains revealing the skyline of Manhattan
The gentleman on the original cover is referred to as "Eustace Tilley," a character created for The New Yorker
by Corey Ford
When he had taken the job at The New Yorker
, Irvin had assumed that the magazine would fold after a few issues,
but his work would appear on 169 covers of The New Yorker
between 1925 and 1958),
including, for example, the piece known as The Unity of the Allied Nations
. This appeared on the cover for the July 1, 1944 issue, and depicts the national personifications
of the Allies
(the American Eagle, the Chinese Dragon, the Russian Bear
and the British Lion).
Besides covers for the magazine, Irvin also drew various illustrations, department headings, caricatures, and cartoons.
The New Yorker
signature display typeface, used for its nameplate and headlines and the masthead above The Talk of the Town
section, is called "Irvin" or "Irvin type," after him.
drawn by the American etcher Allen Lewis, who had received training in woodcutting
, was used as the typographical basis for the "Irvin type."
Irvin may have spotted Lewis' lettering, which was drawn to imitate a woodcut, in a pamphlet entitled "Journeys To Bagdad", and liked it so much that Irvin asked Lewis to create the entire alphabet.
Uninterested in this project, Lewis suggested that Irvin create the alphabet himself –this became the "Irvin type."
He also added the New Yorker's
squiggly column rules; these provide a delineation between the text and illustrations.
He was also responsible for the vertical "cover strap" that was used for the magazine's margins.
According to James Thurber
, "the invaluable Irvin, artist, ex-actor, wit, and sophisticate about town and country, did more to develop the style and excellence of The New Yorker's
drawings and covers than anyone else, and was the main and shining reason that the magazine's comic art in the first two years was far superior to its humorous prose."
Emily Gordon has written that "Irvin's own intimacy with classic form and craft, and his genial willingness to share that expertise ... allowed him to create a complete device: a design, a typeface, a style, and a mood that would be instantly recognizable, and eminently effective, almost a century later."
Last week famed Cartoonist Rea Irvin broke into the "funnies" with a new full-page Sunday series ... His title is "The Smythes;" his characters, the conventional father, mother, small son & daughter, Pekinese
pup; his theme, the conventional burlesque of U. S. middle-class home life. Sample episode: Mrs. Smythe insists upon buying Pekinese, to utter disgust of Mr. Smythe who snorts, "I don't know what you can see in that mutt." Mrs. Smythe, in desperation, goes to bed. Later, Tootums (the Pekinese) awakes and sneezes. Unable to arouse his wife, Smythe arises, grudgingly walks the floor with Tootums, finally melts, talks baby-talk to Tootums, nurses it back to sleep. Whereupon Mrs. Smythe, awake, triumphantly mocks her husband: "I don't know what you can see in that mutt!"
, June 23, 1930, 
- ^ Dewan, Shaila K., et al. "PUBLIC LIVES", The New York Times, February 15, 2001. Accessed January 14, 2008. "Although no substantiation is offered for HENDRIK HERTZBERG'S claim on The New Yorker's new Web site that EUSTACE TILLEY, the persnickety snob created by REA IRVIN, is one of the most successful and recognizable corporate trademarks in the history of hype, Mr. Tilley does have a lengthy curriculum vitae. He appeared on The New Yorker's first cover on Feb. 21, 1925, and each February thereafter until 1994."
- ^ The Many Faces of Eustace Tilley The New Yorker.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Everybody Loves Rea IrvinPRINT Magazine.
- ^ a b c d Rea Irvin, Author Autograph Sample, Book List Link, Search Books AvailableTomFolio.com.
- ^ a b c d Stripper Irvin Time.
- ^ a b c The Talk of the Town; Rea Irvin of The New Yorker
- ^ Consuegra, David. American Type Design and Designers. New York: Allworth Press, 2004.
- ^ Quoted in http://www.wolfsonian.fiu.edu/exhibitions/past/talkoftown.html
- ^ Comic creator: Rea Irvin
- ^ Rea Irvin - Biography Rea Irvin
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Last edited on 24 May 2020, at 14:32
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