Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dick Gackenbach

You my not recognize the name but I hope you do. I have always been a fan of author and illustrator Dick Gackenbach. When I was a teen in CT I remember going to an amazing bookstore in the town of Washington Depot. They had a small section of locally authored books and that's when I first found out about Mr Gackenbach. I was instantly taken by his humorous drawings and simple, thoughtful stories.

He had worked as an Art Director at J.C. Penny and took to illustrating after he retired. As a struggling illustrator myself at the time I had hopes that I could do the same thing.

Years later when I worked at Houghton Mifflin I was put in charge of hiring artists to do a series of posters for a reading series. I used it as an opportunity to track Dick down and see if I could get him to work for me. Those were the days before the internet but he still lived in Washington Depot and I found him easily. He not only did the poster work but I got to use him on a few other projects.

I've mentioned before how one big perk of doing what I do is to get to work with artists whose work I loved. Dick was no exception. He was easy to work with and he always let me know about his new trade books long before they came out.

I lost touch after a few years but stayed a fan of his new books, Only recently I found out that he past away in 2001. But I still have a collection of his books and smile every time I read them. His work for J.C. Penny may never be remembered but his books live on.