Motor Illustrator: Gibbs Mason
November 1913 cover. Against a green background, Mason depicts a motoring femme fatale. At the base of the image is a central wheel (a white-walled tire containing a blue map of the world) with a clear headlight on either side. Yellow butterfly wings and black antennae top the wheel and give rise to a woman's face. The woman, as was typical of Mason's MoToR illustrations, is wearing goggles (depicted with organic, flowing lines) whose lenses are the O's in MoToR. She is also wearing a red hood with horns, making her a devilish motoring beauty.
George Gibbs Mason was a popular MoToR illustrator, drawing covers from 1907 to 1913. Known as "Gibz", he was born on July 3, 1879, and raised in Texas and Nebraska. At age 14, this brown-haired, brown-eyed fella had wanted to join the highway robbers known as the Dalton Gang. He must have thought better of that, however, and worked his way across the country to New York City. From there he sailed to Paris to study under Julien (Julien Dupre, scene painter of Normandy and Brittany). Following his return to New York, he became a working artist, patenting a cupid design for a locket, for instance, in 1905. While in New York he illustrated an agricultural advertising booklet and did sketches for Cosmopolitan.
By 1912, however, he had opened a studio in Boston, later advertising his work thusly on a trade card: above a sketch of a winged nymph sitting on a flower, "Fine Art in Advertising", "O, Psyche! O, Art! Thou that persuades the buyer to buy regardless of price!" A pipe smoker who loved to spend summers riding his motorcycle, he illustrated a number of house organ newsletters, for grocers Cobb, Bates and Yerxa Co. of Boston, (Nick o'Teen); Pilgrim Publicity Association, (The Pilgrim); New Hampshire textile manufacturer Wonalancet , (The Wonalancet Way); dental compound manufacturer L.D. Caulk Co. of Milford, Delaware, (The Dental Quarterly); and others. He also illustrated a monthly magazine for direct advertising, Postage and the Mailbag.
As with most commercial artists of the day, he illustrated books, sheet music, magazines, and newspapers. Using stippling technique (dots suggesting a natural gradation of tone), he drew a number of portraits for publications, depicting notables in such publications as Celebrated Actor Folks' Cookeries, a 1916 book featuring actress Anna Held, vaudeville comic Joe Weber, comedian and playwright Charlotte Walker, et al.
He was also well and favorably known to New York's Grolier Society (the nation's oldest club for bibliophiles), and in 1916 did two sketches for them advertising a children's encyclopedia, The Book of Knowledge. By 1918, he was an artist for Louis Fabian Bachrach at Bachrach Studios, one of the nation's oldest photography studios. In June 1919 and February 1920, he wrote and illustrated articles for The Printing Art in which he campaigned for commercial artists to produce the highest quality art, since only exceptional work would attract notice. He suggested, as well, that illustration specialists should have authority over the advertising manager in producing ad materials. He also was interviewed for, and illustrated, an article in the January 9, 1921 edition of the Boston Post: "Boston Cave Man Fears Pretty Women". His death came soon after he completed illustrations for a 1937 book, The Biune Corpus Christi.
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