Open Fan Mail: Charles Dana Gibson

This is the first of a series of blog posts consisting of fan letters to Golden Age illustrators. All of these illustrators are now deceased, so these obviously won't be mailed out to anyone, nor will I receive any responses.

The only purpose of these letters is to convey, and hopefully inspire, appreciation for these legendary artists.

The first of these letters is addressed to Charles Dana Gibson.


Dear Mr. Gibson,

To begin with, I hope to convey my deep connection to your work, and I say "hope" out of a sense of realism. Not having experienced it yourself, you may never fully understand it from my perspective, other than what I'm able to express in words here. I hope my words will do it justice, but if not, it's enough to feel your presence in the act of writing this letter. 

As a sixteen year old, I discovered the Golden Age of Illustration, but although I had seen your work even then, I didn't know your name yet. My eagerness to find out more would inevitably lead me to you, and at nineteen, I discovered you. Then I ended up wanting more and more of your work. I even wanted to draw like you, and, after graduating high school, I tried to build a career in illustration, because it's what you inspired me to do.

I received Woody Gelman's 1969 book about you for Christmas in 2008. At the time, I was going through a somewhat trying ordeal, and your pictures were a major source of comfort to me. A few months later, I found your 1906 Gibson Books on eBay, and, being hooked as I was, I simply had to have them. It cost me $100, which was a little expensive, but I didn't mind it at all. Today those books are still sitting proudly on the bookcase in my living room.

I could go on and on about the many ways your work shaped me into the person I've become since then, but I think I've already mentioned the most significant thing, and that is the initial impression it left on me. Our paths will never cross in this life, but I hope we can meet in the next, and that perhaps you can teach me to be as good an illustrator as you once were.


Sebastian Certik

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