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R.I.P.: Charlie White III

I'm saddened by the passing of illustrator CHARLIE WHITE III, who died earlier this month. I met him only on two occasions (both art exhibits featuring his work), and I'm sorry our discussions were so brief. He seemed very gracious and appreciative when discussing his work.

White was, among many things, a master of airbrush illustration. He worked in the art department of HEAVY METAL (1981), the animated feature anthology which has become a certified cult classic. Yet most movie fans will likely best recognize his collaboration with Drew Struzan on their "circus style" STAR WARS poster, which was used for the film's rerelease in 1978. It was wonderfully evokes a nostalgic sensibility, and the "poster within a poster" novelty -- done when the original design couldn't accommodate the necessary space for the billing block -- was an inspired touch.

White illustrated numerous album covers, and his collaboration on Ode Records' 1972 orchestra release of THE WHO'S TOMMY (with other noted illustrators such as Richard Amsel, David Byrd, Mark English, Robert Heindel, and Robert Grossman) won a Grammy Award.

White was also reportedly the inspiration behind the title character of Roman Coppola's film, A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III.

It seems we're losing all the illustration giants as of late -- the pre-Photoshop, genius generation who didn't need computers to create art. I challenge any of today's pixel pushers to try to accomplish half the colorful wonders these guys created with things like pencils, paint, and paper.

My sincere sympathies to Mr. White's friends and family.


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