Produced by Michael O’Reilly
In 2014, the book WHITMAN ILLUMINATED: SONG OF MYSELF won a Gold Medal from the New York City-based Society of Illustrators. The author of the original sixty-page poem from 1855 is of course, Walt Whitman, but the illustrator of this 256 page treatment of SONG OF MYSELF is local artist Allen Crawford. Previously known for the character (and advice column of sorts) Lord Breaulove Swells Whimsy that originated in the Philadelphia Independent in the late 90’s and early oughts. With SONG OF MYSELF Crawford seems to have a critically acclaimed hit on his hands. He worked on the book, off and on, for over a year, between commercial jobs out of the design and illustration studio Plankton Art Co. that he cofounded with his wife, Susan, in 1996. Their studio’s most notable project to date is the collection of 400 species identification illustrations that are on permanent display at the American Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life in New York. Located in New Jersey, Crawford and his wife are avid naturalists, and FRIDAY ARTS visits them at their home studio, in the pine barrens of New Jersey and at Big Timber Creek, the area outside of Laurel Springs, NJ where Whitman recuperated from a stroke and wrote SPECIMEN DAYS. In Crawford’s view, Big Timber Creek is as important to Whitman as Walden Pond is to Thoreau and yet it is wholly unheralded. Remembered and remarked upon only by a few like Crawford, our production endeavors to attribute this place and these persons to a collective memory, broadcasting out beyond the planet and circulating around the world in a common digital ether.
A Closer Look: Susan Crawford
Produced by Michael O’Reilly, Edited by: Diamond Holland
This video is deeper look into the illustration partnership between Allen & Susan Crawford. It also details the creative process between Laura Baird and Allen and Susan.