'Tis Christmas

Funny how we never really use those contractions like "'tis" and "'twas" until the Holidays. Makes anything we write sound so warm and folksy, like we should be sitting by the fire with a laptop in our lap, hot chocolate by our side. But not me. I plan on using these archaic contractions as much as I can next year. Or, until someone strangles me.

The First Christmas Morning
Click on image to view larger.

I was going through some of my old magazines, picking out the ones that were Christmas issues, and came across this illustration for a story in Woman's Day, December 1959. Taking a closer look, I found an artist mention: Andy Warhol.

Andy was a young illustrator trying to do his thing in New York in the 50's, doing some fashion illustration and advertising as well as the occasional album cover. His work mostly consisted of the "blotted-line" variety, and done very well, if you ask me. This is a nice one for the Christmas season. One of my favorite illustrated Blue Note album covers was done by Andy in 1958: Blue Lights, Vols. 1 & 2, by Kenny Burrell. I put an emphasis on "illustrated" because most of Blue Note's covers featured photos and graphics and I harbor a great amount of love for many of those types of covers as well.

Anyway, the Burrell cover was nice because of the posing and composition of the character juxtaposed with the simple sans serif type, the hallmark of Blue Note covers. Most of the design work was done by Reid Miles, featuring strong photography by Francis Wolff. There's a funny story about how Francis used to get so mad at Reid for cropping off the tops all the musicians' heads of Francis' shots.

You can see a great deal of these incredible covers in Blue Note: The Album Cover Art, by Graham Nash Marsh. I've owned this book since '93, and I still can't get enough of it. Highly recommended. UPDATE: My pal Alan from Chronicle Books informs us that this book is out of print, but there's another one available, titled, Blue Note: The Album Cover Art: The Ultimate Collection. Thanks for the heads up, Alan!

Things are ramping up around here for Christmas. Lots of stuff going on around the household, so expect a bit of a pause here on The Ward-O-Matic. I'll probably get around to posting something on Christmas Day, but until that time, have a great and safe Holiday.


  1. Ward,
    happy holidays, long time no talkies. FYI, the Blue Note book is authored by Graham Marsh, not the musician/ photographer Graham Nash. Also, though that 12" edition is now out of print, we have a smaller one entitled Blue Note: The Album Cover Art: The Ultimate Collection.
    -Alan Rapp (Chronicle Books)

  2. Yes, 'tis been a while. (See? Using old contractions.) Thanks for the info on the Blue Note book -- I've added the update (and author name fix) in my post now. Many thanks, and hope you have a great holiday! We'll get in touch after the New Year.

  3. I will "oooo" an "Auld Lang Syne"* in your honor, Ward. Merry Christmas!

    *like at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas!

  4. A belated Merry Christmas and a super new year to you, Ward! The Blue Note cover book is essential, f'real. I have the first volume, plus the Ultimate Collection. Just lovely.
    Just saw the Warhol exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and it was totally inspiring. I highly recommend partaking in any show of his work, be it in your town, or abroad.

  5. "His work mostly consisted of the "blotted-line" variety, and done very well, if you ask me."

    As I've read it he was actually the inventor of this style. I might be wrong.

    He was well famous in this field and won several awards before going into "real" art.