Thursday, December 27, 2007

December 27, 2007 - Artisit*, etc. (for Artist)

Artisit* is a "moderate probability" typo, with Artitic*, Artisty, Atrists, Artrist*, and Artsits bringing up the rear. Though hugely expressive, graphic artists are not always the greatest spellers, and the great sculptor and children's author/ illustrator Louis Slobodkin was no exception. He often joked about this foible in public and privately prevailed upon his wife (and occasional coauthor) Florence to transcribe and typewrite all of his manuscripts. His inability to spell was memorialized in Eleanor Estes' introduction to his Caldecott Award acceptance speech in 1944 for the illustrations in Many Moons by James Thurber. "It is true that to this day," wrote Estes, "Louis' spelling is glowingly original, as a careful scrutiny of any of his pictures in which spelling occurs will confirm." In any case, Louis did not sit on his laurels. After a celebrated career as a sculptor, followed by a mid-life conversion to children's literature (culminating in the illustration of nearly 90 books, half of which he wrote himself), Slobodkin retired in the early 1970s and is pictured sitting here, looking very artisty.

Carol Reid

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