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JOHN FALTER

BIOGRAPHY
Artist Art Brokerage: American artist John Philip Falter (1910, Plattsmouth, Nebraska - 1982, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), more commonly known as John Falter, was a renowned artist, best known for his many covers for The Saturday Evening Post. At an early age, Falter moved with his family to Falls City in 1916, where his father, George H. Falter, established a clothing store. As a high school student, Falter created a comic strip, Down Thru the Ages, which was published in the Falls City Journal. J. N. "Ding" Darling, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist of the Des Moines Register, saw some of Falter's cartoons and said he should become an illustrator. Falter received a major break with his first commission from Liberty Magazine to do three illustrations a week in 1933. "They paid me $75 a week," Falter said, "just like a steelworker. But my expenses for models and costumes were running $35 a week during one 16-week serial I was illustrating." Falter soon discovered that there was much more money to be made in advertising than in other fields of illustration. By 1938, he had acquired several advertising clients including Gulf Oil, Four Roses Whiskey, Arrow Shirts and Pall Mall. Falter's work appeared in major national magazines. "This was high pay for less work," Falter said, "and it gave me a chance to experiment in the field of easel painting." In 1943, he enlisted in the Navy and was rapidly promoted from chief boatswain's mate to lieutenant on special assignment as an artist. His final rank was Chief Petty Officer. His talents were applied to the American war effort to spur on recruiting drives. Falter designed over 300 recruiting posters. One popular Falter poster dealt with the loose-lips-sink-ships theme. It showed a broad-shouldered Navy man with the caption, "If you tell where he's going, he may never get there." During this period, he also completed both a series of recruiting posters for the women's Navy, or WAVES, and a series depicting 12 Medal of Honor winners for Esquire. Falter's first Saturday Evening Post cover, a portrait of the magazine's founder, Benjamin Franklin, is dated September 1, 1943. That cover began a 25-year relationship with the Post, during which Falter produced over 120 covers for the magazine until the editors changed its cover format from illustrations to photographs. Falter commented, "There were plenty of Rockwell imitators and J. C. Leyendecker imitators. My main concern in doing Post covers was trying to do something based on my own experiences. I found my niche as a painter of Americana with an accent of the Middle West. I brought out some of the homeliness and humor of Middle Western town life and home life. I used humor whenever possible." Of Falter's 120-odd covers, nearly all were his own ideas. "Four didn't make it," he said, "probably 12 ideas were supplied by the Post." Many of his friends acted as models for his covers; four of the covers depict his close friend, the actor J. Scott Smart.


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