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Norman Adams (born 1933) was a commercial artist, Illustrator. As a young graduate from art school, he was offered jobs at three of the most successful and lucrative illustration agencies in NY.
Born in Walla Walla, Washington in 1933 he grew up to draw and paint obsessively from the earliest ages. He collected pictures from every type of magazine and book he could find and then found ways of improving them. He was especially captivated by the trompe l'oeil realism of artists like : William Harnett, John F. Peto and John Haberle. He would use everything every artist had to offer so he could then go further.
He studied art at the Los Angeles Art Center School in the early 1950s. While he was in LA he spent many many months painting a portfolio in which he used his "trompe l'oeil" realism to convince the managers of the largest illustration agencies in NY that he could do what no other artist/illustrator could. He succeeded because while thousands of perfectly good illustrators and artists were begging for work the managers of the three most successful illustration agencies in NY offered him a job. He chose to work for the legendary Charles E Cooper Studio where he became the most versatile if not most productive artist of the group. When he first arrived in NY he quickly impressed established Illustrators, like "the illustrator's illustrator," Robert Fawcett, to become a sort of Babe Ruth of Illustrators. Just like baseball players had to admit that (Babe Ruth) had something that separated him from other players, illustrators like Fawcett who saw Norman's painting's at Society of Illustrators exhibitions had to admit that even as a rookie Norman Adams had a gift that separated him from his competition.
His closest colleague at the Cooper Studio was perhaps James Bama.
Norman Adams' illustrations included works for Reader's Digest, Boy's Life, Harpers, National Geographic, TV Guide, Saturday Evening Post, True Magazine, Argosy, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, Business Week, Cabela's, Boy's Life, Medical Economics, and dozens and dozens of paperback covers. He also authored a textbook now in its 30th Edition, Drawing Animals. When the magazines started to fail the Charles E Cooper Studio had to downscale. This prompted Norman Adams to join an elite group of illustrators at Artists Associates. In 1980 Lenox hired him to do a very limited edition Lenox Collection of 12 unique plates that were released in 1982: "The American Wildlife Plates by Norman Adams." The "premier series of collector's plates" - "one subscription per collector" - were "an ABSOLUTE limit of 9500" which did not allow dealers any orders let alone wholesale orders. For this reason dealers boycotted these plates and for this reason very little is known about them even though the gold alone in them makes them rarer than rare. What made these plates so unique: each plate was individually signed by Norman Adams inside a 24 karat gold backstamp. It had never been done before and the price of gold alone will most likely guarantee that such a super-unique series of plates will never happen again.
In the mid-1980s Norman Adams was given an opportunity that few artists/illustrators can entertain. He was paid to paint the most powerful images that would not be limited to any popular fads or genres. He chose his favorite subjects: animals and historic landscapes. His most striking painting won The Best of Show at the largest Wildlife Art Show at the time: the 1988 Minnesota Wildlife Art Show. It was a life-sized Golden Eagle in a Grand Canyon setting. For years he sold his wildlife and animal paintings in galleries in Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson Hole, WY. Besides his "trompe l'oeil" technical skills that allowed him to survive successfully in a profession for years after most commercial illustrators had to quit, like Norman Rockwell; what really separated him from other artists was his photographic memory for visual images. Everything that Mozart could do with acoustic-images, sound-music, Norman Adams could do with visual-images.
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