In the case of nine year-old John Burk, it was very likely his best friend’s father, a partner and illustrator in a successful commercial art studio. “He invited me into his home to sit next to his easel for as long as I wished while he painted US Lines’ fleet of ocean liners on the high seas. These paintings were commissioned to be reproduced as posters, ad illustrations and on backs of card decks.”
John would spend hours watching intently as this artist rendered hulls and superstructures, laid in billowing clouds and cresting waves. “To keep me interested, he would paint lifeboats being lowered or drifting alongside, adding circling sharks, periscopes and torpedo wakes, seaplanes or other fanciful details, then paint them out again. Thinking back, he did this so deftly and well, I am still filled with awe.”
John was born in Baltimore in 1945. By the age of ten, he was constantly drawing. As a teenager, he painted in watercolors.
He studied at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art as an advertising design/creative communications major, married and began a career as an ad agency art director. He would eventually hire his best friend’s father to illustrate for him.