Man Climbing a Mountain
A very special child was born to eastern European immigrants Max and Sarah Tepper on Christmas Day, 1899, on the lower east side of Manhattan. New York’s melting pot is well known for the talents that emerged from those streets of pushcarts and immigrants. Hard work was the key to success there, and Saul Tepper was no exception.
By 19, he was working full time in his own lettering studio while studying art at night and on weekends. He found William DeLeftwich Dodge’s composition classes at Cooper Union and George Bridgeman’s “ideas in drawing” at the Art Students League, were important influences. But his most important influence came later, under Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central Art School and at Dunn’s Tenafly, New Jersey, studio.
A multifaceted talent, Saul branched out into other fields. Aside from his masterful use of the brush, Saul had a strong love of music which has led to many published songs and resulted in a membership in ASCAP in 1941. He created many of the songs for the popular “Illustrators Shows,” produced by the Society of Illustrators. The Illustrators Barbershop Quartet, with Saul as baritone, was a highlight of those productions. Over the years, Saul’s music has been recorded by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Harry James and many others.
Second illustration for The Tall Ladder
As a lecturer, Saul has spoken often to groups of students and professionals at Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, the Society of Illustrators and Art Directors Clubs. Because Saul knows the importance of the patient help one artist will lend another, he has given of his time to many. Al Dorne apprenticed to Saul at his first lettering studio and later Harry Beckoff and others. We will never know how many would have put down the pen for a shovel without Saul’s help. He tells about one young man, Arthur DeKuh, an ex-boxer and bathhouse bouncer, who, through hard work and Saul’s critiques, established a career in art.
Saul, having grown up during the Golden Age of American Illustration, was influenced by it. The period between World War I and II was Saul’s “Golden Age,” an era of romance and adventure in which he, Cornwell and Rockwell played an important part. Reproduced in the major magazines for four decades, Saul’s work became a source of inspiration for many artists of that period. In the 1950’s, still an active artist for the new adventure magazines (True, Argosy and Real), Saul reached a point of dissatisfaction.
He became TV art director for J. Walter Thompson and BBD&O, creating images for TV commercials. He also continued with his music, composing the Red Cross theme song for 1960-1961.
Teal, purple, black
Saul Tepper was a native New Yorker who had a highly successful career as an illustrator. In 1926 he studied at Grand Central Art School under illustration artist Harvey Dunn, who taught several illustrators of Tepper's generation who went on to achieve prominence in their field. This painting probably was done around that time. Tepper's characteristic style was realistic, with bold contrasts of light and dark and close attention to detail. He produced illustrations for most of the major magazines of the time such as Liberty Magazine, as well as advertising art for major accounts such as General Electric, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Mobil and Texaco. Tepper was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1980. Meanwhile, he also had a second career as a popular songwriter.