Erie Hall of Fame
Eugene Iverd Eugene Iverd
Nominated by: Melinda Meyer

Eugene Iverd: Erie Illustrator

Eugene Iverd is one of the Erie area’s most famous artists, although he was better known to a generation of area art students by his real name, George Ericson. Ericson attained national prominence in the 1920’s and 30’s as a commercial illustrator working under the name Eugene Iverd.

Born of Swedish immigrants in St. Paul, Minnesota, January 31, 1983; Ericson showed an interest in art at a young age while growing up in Waseca, Minnesota. A house painter taught him to mix colors and ordered his first paint set from the Sears & Roebuck Catalog.

Ericson’s father did not support his interest in art and he had no formal art training until he was of college age. He studied at the St. Paul School of Art and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. His education was cut short when he joined the Army during World War I. The war ended before Ericson could be sent overseas and he spent two years teaching art to wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

In 1921, Ericson accepted a position as the art teachers at the new Academy High School in Erie, Pennsylvania. Ericson’s role at Academy was an important one; he taught and encouraged a generation of Erie artists including Joseph Plavcan, Lester Roesner, Andy Hintenach, Harry Simpson, Wilber Adams and others.

Ericson’s job as an art instructor enabled him to provide for his family and produce the fine art paintings that were his greatest artistic interest. He quickly realized that he could supplement this income with commercial illustration. Although it was not his first love, Ericson was very adept at illustration. He specialized in capturing scenes of youthful innocence and was soon considered among the top illustrators in the United States. He enjoyed a successful commercial art career at the same time as other famous illustrators such as J. C. Layendecker, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Howard Chandler Christy, Macfield Parrish, Will Bradley, F.R. Gruger, Frank Schoonover, James Montgomery Flagg and Norman Rockwell. Together their works mark a time when magazines featured paintings, not photographs, and when publications had an amazing wealth of talented artists to call upon.

Ericson used the name Eugene Iverd for his commercial work but continued to sign his own name on his fine art paintings. Iverd illustrations were produced for national advertising campaigns for companies such as Monarch Foods, Campbell’s Soup, Iodent Toothpaste, Winchester-Western Company, Pure Oil Corporation, Pequot Sheets and the Buffalo Evening News. Iverd produced covers and illustrations for the largest magazines of the day including the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, American Magazine, Successful Farming, Christian Herald, and others. The models for these illustrations included Ericson’s wife Lillian, children Ruth, George and Jean and other Erie residents.

George Ericson was on his way to national prominence when he met an untimely death in June, 1936 at the age of 43. He is buried in the Ericson family plot in Minnesota.

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