Short Biography of Norman Rockwell
Known as the heart-warming illustrator of the Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell captured American nostalgia in his paintings and artistic renditions like no other. Quitting high school to pursue his art career, he didn’t have much trouble securing spots with some of the country’s top magazines. He admits that perhaps the magazines were simply looking for his types of work. Critics are divided in how they perceive his artistic contributions.
Born in New York City, one might wonder how young Norman was inspired to later draw scenes from the countryside. As a young boy, he would spend nearly every summer on farms in the countryside. These scenes and times stuck in his head, especially when he knew that he wanted to be a full-time artist. During the regular school year, Rockwell began taking art classes at the Chase Art School on the weekends, and eventually through the week.
Upon quitting high school, he began attending the National Academy School and the Art Students League. His artistic endeavors were supported greatly through the support of George Bridgeman and Thomas Fogarty, who were both teachers, draftsmen, and illustrators. During this period, he was commissioned on an illustration assignment for a children’s book, worked for Boys’ Life Magazine, and even became its art director.
Rockwell’s big break came when he took a chance trip to Philadelphia to visit the editor of the Saturday Evening Post. Norman believed that he had come up with some possible cover designs that would fit the theme of the magazine perfectly. Without an appointment, the young Rockwell showed the editor his work, selling all of them for future covers. This set his career in motion and other major magazines began contacting Rockwell for their own cover designs due to the major impact and success that his work had upon the Post. With the outbreak of World War I, Rockwell joined the Navy and ran a newspaper, while still doing work for the Post.
Later in his career, Rockwell began doing advertising illustration for the Orange Crush Soft Drink Company, Jell-O, and began working on pictures for the Boy Scouts of America calendar. He then divorced his schoolteacher wife, married Mary Barstow and had three sons to her. By 1940, the family began living on their 60-acre farm in Vermont, where Rockwell continued painting for his upcoming show in the Milwaukee Art Institute. During World War II, Rockwell painted a rendition of what he believed were the four human freedoms, which were, freedom of speech, worship, want, and freedom from fear. The paintings were used by the U.S. government to sell bonds, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Rockwell continued to do other illustrations as well, including works for Mark Twain’s books. His works are still exhibited and adored by American audiences in countless cities and towns across the nation.