Famous Last Words: How to Hire a Designer
Maybe once in your career, you will be tasked with finding an artist to create the official portrait of your CEO. Or maybe your mother-in-law.
Or you may be called on to hire or recommend a designer or webmaster.
What triggered this column was news out of the U.K. that Welch artist Dan Llewelyn Hall did a hatchet job on the beloved Prince William, heir to the throne. The portrait, along with other terrible representations of famous Brits, is seen above.
Quite simply, everybody hates it. Including me, not that I matter.
Jere R. Wickwire
My first brush with truly awful commercial art was in 1950, when I was a student at Andover. I was prowling the rooms of the Addison Gallery and stumbled into the headmaster, West Point grad and TIME cover subject John M. Kemper. He was sitting for a portrait. The artist, Jere Wickwire (1883-1974), was well-regarded. I sneaked a peek at his portrait and realized it was a real stinker.
Over the years, I wondered whatever happened to that portrait and whether Headmaster Kemper agreed with my youthful assessment.
It turns out Kemper despised it.
Prowling the Internet, I came across a description in the John M. Kemper archives of the delicious brouhaha the painting caused:
The trustees refused to pay for the unfinished portrait, which upset Wickwire, even though there was no commission for him to paint it. Under the circumstances, JMK refused two more sittings to finish the portrait. Later JMK asked Wickwire never to exhibit it, even anonymously.
I searched the Internet and could not find the Kemper portrait. It may have been ordered to be destroyed, just like the 80th birthday portrait of Winston Churchill by Graham Sutherland in 1954. Churchill's reaction: "Filthy," he spluttered. "I think it is malignant."