Tuesday, March 2, 2010
"Mary Suzuki was working in NY when I got there in 1956. She was particularly noted for the work she did for Seventeen Magazine... fashion spreads and some beauty spots. Her figures were distinguished by the absence of eyes..." "... somehow because, I think, the figures were so highly designed they did not look strange." ~ Mia Carpenter Mary Suzuki's son, Taro, contacted me last year and shared some interesting additional information. Taro wrote, "She did a lot of work in the 50's and 60's for Harpers Bazaar and Seventeen magazine. When Andy Warhol first came to N.Y. he showed her his book and she told him to do shoes and got him some work." Suzuki must have known what she was talking about... she illustrated the ad below, which received a NY Art Directors medal. Suzuki and Warhol co-illustrated "Amy Vanderbilt's Book of Etiquette" and, wrote Taro, "she also gave him his first cat "Hester". Some more details about his mom's career from Taro: "She grew up on a farm in Imperial Valley Ca. I know she was very ambitious and went to Art Center in L.A. where she met my father. I don't know what her first job was, but she had a lot of success before I was born. I don't think family interfered with her career." "I was her only child and was often given to the care of an aunt or nanny. I can't give you a dollar figure on what jobs paid then, but I think she was well paid. You're right about the 60's -- Pop graphics changed the style. She tried to adjust and was great friends with Milton Glaser and Pushpin Studios, but she was of a slightly older generation -- She cited Ben Shahn and the Ashcan School as inspirations." "She worked on a host of different projects: a children's book (never published). "Twiggy " paper dolls (couldn't get rights) , and fine art(oil painting)- she showed in the first feminist art show at The Huntington Hartford Museum "Women Choose Women". Toward the end she derived most of her income from illustrating clothing patterns for Butterick and the like, and she also designed clothes. She designed a promotional scarf for Pepsi Cola and showed it to Bill Blass who stole it." Taro also wrote, "I vaguely remember some illustrator friend's names: Cliff Condack, Bernard Simpson and Bill Charmatz." and he sent this fabulous picture of Mary Suzuki in the 1950s - which almost looks as though it was taken at that moment when she advised the young Andy Warhol to "draw shoes." Mary Suzuki was quite active until the 70's. She died in 1974 of cancer.