Monday, May 22, 2017


After World War II, the illustration market heated up again.  Westport illustrator Al Parker recalled, 
At the end of the war, the illustrator strutted amidst a pageant of plenty. Advertising budgets had skyrocketed and magazines bulged with fiction, providing work for all who painted in the style of the innovators.
It was also a profession dominated almost exclusively by male illustrators.

During this era Arpi and Suren Ermoyan--one of the power couples of illustration-- moved into the house on Tanglewood Lane. They purchased it from R.G. Harris in 1953 and Harris moved back west to Arizona. 

 Arpi was one of the very few women to become a respected illustrator in those days.

illustration from Cosmopolitan Magazine, June 1953

The novelty of a woman illustrator did not escape attention:

Cosmopolitan clipping from Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration

She went on to become the Director of the Society of Illustrators and author of one of the premier books on illustration, Famous American Illustrators.  She worked at the prestigious ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, and curated gallery exhibitions of illustration art.  She was a multidisciplinary force to contend with. Today illustration is no longer a boy's club, but surprisingly I've yet to hear a contemporary woman illustrator acknowledge Arpi Ermoyan's contribution in the early years.

Illustrators in Westport during this era used each other for models all the time, and Arpi was a favorite. As Cosmopolitan Magazine noted, neighboring illustrators would stop by the house on Tanglewood Lane and before you know it, Arpi had to "put aside her drawing board and start modeling."  Several great illustrators of the era were inspired by her striking good looks and painted her into their illustrations:

Arpi by John LaGatta

Arpi by Austin Briggs
Arpi by Bernie Fuchs

Arpi's husband, Suren, was the highly regarded art director for a number of the top magazines of the day. In 1948 he was the young art editor at Cosmopolitan who first paired illustrator Robert Fawcett with the famous Sherlock Holmes series.  He was later the art director at Town & Country.  The year that he and Arpi moved into the house on Tanglewood Lane, Suren left Town & Country to become art director at Good Housekeeping. Arpi and Suren lived happily in the old house on Tanglewood Lane from 1953 to 1961, while Westport was a buzzing hive of creative activity.
By 1961, illustration had turned another page and the Ermoyans sold the house to the new kid in town, Bernie Fuchs.


Frank Furlong said...

Wonderful stuff, I'm anxiously(? looking forward to the rest. Many thanks.)

Paul Sullivan said...

David— Your posts about the house on Tanglewood Lane shed another wonderful light on a part of legendary Westport. For a lot of us who have studied, followed or practiced illustration, Westport has been thought of as the Camelot of American illustration—at least during the post war years.

Thank you for these posts. Like your post regarding the closing of Max's art supply store in Westport, it sobers us up to the fact that the world has changed. However your posts continue to remind us of the excellent work of the best of the best.

Like the lyrics of the song:
Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.

David Apatoff said...

Frank Furlong-- Many thanks. These were such a colorful and talented bunch, there are a lot of colorful stories to relate, although I've been sworn to silence on some of them.

Paul Sullivan-- I agree with you about the Camelot connection. There was a combination of excellence and altruism and youthful energy about the art scene in Westport that was sweet, even if today it sometimes seems naive or misguided. Politically, most of them seemed to love JFK and the whole Camelot ethos (except Robert Fawcett who was far too left wing for JFK). Bernie Fuchs, the next occupant of the house on Tanglewood, visited JFK in the White House to paint his picture during the Cuban Missle Crisis.

MORAN said...

She's awesome!