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Visual & Performing Arts
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To Research A Topic Related To The History Of Illustration (Research Paper Sample)


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Walt Reed's Contribution to the History of Illustration
Illustration has a long history and remains a source of pride for artists and consumers today. The future holds more promise. Artists and illustrators continue to gain recognition and their work continues to inspire generations of people. Such appreciation has only emerged a few decades ago, after many years of struggle. One of the most influential people as far as the history of illustration is concerned, is Walt Reed. This paper addresses the contribution that Walt Arnold Reed made to the growth of illustration.
Walt Arnold Reed was born on July 21, 1917, in Howard County in the city of Big Spring, Texas (Prabook 1). He was the first born to his parents: his father Fay Reed and mother Edith Terpening. His parents had previously moved from their traditional family home in Grand Rapids in Michigan (Saunders 65). Walt and his family did not have an eventful time in Texas and a few years after Walt was born, the family returned to their traditional family home in Texas.
After relocating back to Texas, Walt's father took over the operations of a firm previously owned by his father-in-law (Saunders 65). The firm dealt with the manufacture of special brushes that are used in furniture factories. Walt's mother, Edith Terpening was a school teacher, having graduated from Kalamazoo College. She undertook close supervision of her children's studies and found out that Walt was a talented artist. His school teachers appreciated and supported Walt's talent (Saunders 65). Walt Reed was named after Walt Whitman, a poet, and journalist whom Walt's father admired. Walt's father was keen on the upbringing of his children. In this regard, Saunders (65) states that Fay Reed was more interested in ensuring his children grew up to be responsible and self-reliant than he was interested in running the family business.
Walt went to a public high school called Central High School where he enjoyed attending art classes (Saunders 65). He later went to Davis Technical High School in 1934 where he attended art classes while at the same time proceeding with his regular classes at Central High School. He graduated from Central High school in 1936 but carried on with his art classes at Davis Technical High school until 1937. By then, he had enrolled at Grand Rapids Junior College. During the two years that he attended Grand Rapids Junior College, Walt had also enrolled at the Grand Rapids Art Museum where he took drawing classes (Saunders 66).
Walt developed a keen interest in art at an early age in his life. He had what he described as 'a natural feeling for pictures' since childhood, with the Sunday comics inspiring him way before he could even read. It is upon such minor aspects of illustration that he developed a close interest and later a career in illustration. Having graduated from Grand Rapids Junior College in 1938, Walt got a scholarship to attend Pratt Institute in 1939. While attending Pratt Institute, Walt worked in the kitchen at Brooklyn Central YMCA as well as attending the Y's athletic program. In the latter case, he taught a shop class and supervised a range of sports activities, including swimming and basketball. He also cleaned neighbors' apartments and earned $30 cents an hour. (Saunders 66).
The Pratt Institute required that the students declare which specific career aspect they wanted to pursue: graphic artist, cartoonist, illustrator, or letterer. He chose to be an illustrator. Among the teachers who most influenced Walt at the Pratt Institute was Nicholas Riley (1900 - 1944). Riley helped Walt to learn a great deal about color, and about the famous Howard Pyle (Saunders 68). Once Walt read a portion of the works authored by Pyle, including semi-annual volumes of "The Century, Scribner's" and "Harper's Mont...
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