Alfred Charles Parker was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906 and studied at Washington
University’s School of Fine Arts from 1923 to 1928. After opening a fledgling advertising
agency with fellow students and beginning to work for national magazines, Parker moved to
New York City in 1935. A cover illustration for House Beautiful won a
national competition and garnered Parker jobs producing illustrations and covers for
Chatelaine, Collier’s, Women’s Home
Companion, and Ladies’ Home Journal.
In December of 1938, Parker began a thirteen-year stint of illustrating a series of fifty
hugely popular “Mother and Daughter” covers for the Ladies Home Journal:
dressed alike and paired in an evocatively designed action scene, the first cover created an
overnight fashion sensation. Successive covers enjoyed unrivaled appeal, chronicling the
evolution of an idealized American family as it prepared for war, homecoming, and rebirth
(i.e., the baby boom). Parker was soon illustrating for countless magazines including
Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, McCall’s,
The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated,
Pictorial Review, Town and County, and Vogue,
constantly reinventing his endlessly snappy style and thematic approach, while experimenting
with new media in order to keep his throngs of imitators stymied. In cooperation with the
art director, he secretly illustrated an entire issue of Cosmopolitan
employing different pseudonyms, styles, and media for each story.
Parker is one of the select few illustrators whose personal touch immediately jumps out at
the viewer, through crisp rendering and compositions not only bold, but positively
idiosyncratic. Known as the Dean of Illustrators, Parker was one of the founding faculty
members for the Famous Artists School and was elected to the Society of Illustrators' Hall
of Fame in 1965.
Biography compiled by Todd Hignite. For additional information see The Illustrator in America 1860-2000, by Walt Reed, New York: The Society of Illustrators, 2001.