Thorn: Otis Shepard, baseball’s greatest graphic artist

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on August 10, 2017:

If this were not a Wrigley Field program from 1962 it could be displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. It was one of the last Chicago Cubs programs designed by the incomparable Otis Shepard, a pioneering graphic artist who had worked with Philip K. Wrigley’s gum company and his ball club for thirty years.

Though trained in the painterly tradition of turn-of-the century illustrators and commercial graphic artists like Edward Penfield, J.C. Leyendecker, and Norman Rockwell, Shepard gravitated to more sleek, reductive forms — with ever increasing reliance upon the airbrush — after his marriage to fellow artist Dorothy Van Gorder in 1929. For many of Otis Shepard’s illustrations, his wife was an unsigned collaborator.

The success of Otis’s glowing ads for Wrigley Gum may have shaped his approach to promoting the Cubs, beginning in the 1930s.

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Originally published: August 11, 2017. Last Updated: August 11, 2017.