This is a posting on the illustrator
who did the most masterful work on Hints from The Model Garage.
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Friday, November 28, 2008
TI list member
Dan Picasso recently brought to my attention the work of an illustrator
he greatly admired. I invited Dan to guest-write a post about this artist,
and since the material is automotive in nature, I thought it would make a
great conclusion to this week's topic:
If you were a fellow in the 1950s, as you paused before repairing a leaky
faucet, retrieving a bolt you just dropped down your Studebaker's intake
manifold, or tearing into a new addition on your split-level, you might have
fetched yourself a copy of Popular Science magazine to check your
method and approach.
era between WWl and VietNam, Pop Sci bestrode the
middleclass/middlebrow world of handy- and would-be-handymen like a
Colossus- it sought to instruct and explain, in sometimes breezy, often
earnest and occasionally dire fashion, the scientific and mechanical
goings-on of a world in flux. Sawdust covered stacks of Pop Sci were
typically found in basement workshops, their pages rife with photos and
drawings of fellows with pipes clamped between their teeth building go-karts
and kitchens and cyclotrons, or fabulously elaborate cutaways of
manufacturing plants or warships.
monthly feature of Pop Sci was ‘Hints from the Model Garage', a
two-page spread of automotive hints and tips. From perhaps '49 to '62, it
was illustrated by a man who signed his work "Rouse". No further credit
accompanied his eight panels each month, nor am I even certain of his first
name, but for the sake of this article let's call him "Art".
work goes far beyond the normal scope of technical illustration, which tends
toward the dry and schematic: in addition to his precision he's incredibly
fluid, and shows signs of Horror Vacuii - there's a graphomaniacal
aspect to Rouse's work which reminds me of Will Elder's, sans the jokes.
I discussed the scratchboard look, but I'm convinced it's done in ruling
pen, crowquill and maybe a little tech pen, along with the aid of drafting
in engineering or at least an intimate knowledge of how things work [and
look] are explicit in Rouse's rendering of ancillary parts and
assemblies-it's as if he can't help himself; he must draw that windshield
washer pump, and make it look great, even if the subject of the illustration
is the carburetor.
manifestly dogged but lovely and complex approach-look at how not only the
salient points of each illo but also the background details are fully
fleshed out in sparkling detail-seem to suggest a man unafraid of sheer hard
work in pursuit of his paycheck, and one who finds some delight in the dry
corners of a niche of illustration which is normally carried out with little
more than a purely factual approach.
this professional detachment for Rouse-he's the Norman Rockwell of
down-and-dirty tech illustration. From his rendering of faces, I get the
hint that his instructive time took place in the ‘20s: the guy under the car
looks like F. Scott Fitzgerald to me, and overall the penwork has the
enthusiasm and skillfully graceful modeling of Charles Dana Gibson, if far
more rigidly applied.
help but think that Rouse, upon entering the studio for the day or evening,
didn't sigh and mutter, "Dear God, not another carburetor," but instead
brought to the board some kind of affection for the mundane mechanical
subjects of his talents, and in doing so left behind some modestly
astonishing examples of inspired hard work.
been unable to find even a shred of information on Rouse the man, so any
help readers can provide would be appreciated.]
Many thanks to Dan for his insightful remarks and for sharing these
images from his collection!