1950s: Other Illustrations by my Dad, Bernard Safran

Bernie, my Dad, worked as a commercial illustrator for 10 years – from 1947 to 1957. Ultimately he found the work unrewarding and was disappointed to find that the business was dying and there was little if no demand for work like the great illustrations of his childhood. The work was strictly commercial and had to fit into the slick 50s looks that were fashionable at the time regardless of his preferences. And he had to work within the limitations of the printing industry – the moral codes, the color restrictions (for cost), the layout with type, its readability and saleability from a bookshelf, and so on.

Passion In The Pines, Pulp Fiction cover by Bernard Safran, Beacon Books 1956

Pulp cover by Bernard Safran

I didn’t want to give the impression in my last post that my father mostly did Pulp Fiction covers in the 1950s – its just that those covers are hot auction items at the moment with a lot of collectors of Pulp Fiction art out there… so you can Google my Dad’s name along with Pulp Fiction and see quite an assortment of his covers if you’re interested.

Its harder to find his other illustration work online, but he did illustrations for a wide range of publishers including Popular Science, Random House, Macmillan Publishing, Doubleday and Co., Woman’s Day, Henry Holt and Company, Signet Books, Magazine Digest, and many more.

By 1957 my Dad was burned out and feeling down about the work he’d produced in his ten years since art school. He was proud of some of the illustrations – but the majority of his work was done quickly and to the specifications of other people – not driven by his own vision.

So I thought I’d share a few examples of his other illustration work for those of you who might be interested… some of the books were by very famous authors at the time believe it or not (like Philip Wylie who wrote When Worlds Collide).

Lion by Bernard Safran, pen and ink , published in Outdoor Life 1951

Lion by Bernard Safran, pen and ink , published in Outdoor Life 1951

Gray Fox, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc. 1955

My Dad was a big Civil War enthusiast and read everything he could about it – we even did a tour of battlefields when I was about 10. He especially enjoyed illustrating books on this subject.
Gray Fox, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc. 1955

The Dice of God, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc 1956

The Dice of God, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc 1956

Pleasure Cruise, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Rinehart & Company 1956

Pleasure Cruise, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Rinehart & Company 1956

Time and the Wind, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Macmillan Publishing 1951

Time and the Wind, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Macmillan Publishing 1951

The Fabulous Train, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc. 1955

The Fabulous Train, book jacket by Bernard Safran, Ben Feder Inc. 1955

A Land to Tame, book jacket by Bernard Safran 1956

A Land to Tame, book jacket by Bernard Safran 1956

Sample illustration from portfolio by Bernard Safran, oil on illustration board 1951

Sample illustration from portfolio by Bernard Safran, oil on illustration board 1951

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