Monday, January 14, 2013

Self-Portrait: Erik Blegvad

written and illustrated by Erik Blegvad  1979

This AMAZING book arrived in the mail right before Christmas.  Erik Blegvad became my favorite illustrator this summer (I kept adding his illustrated books to this blog).  So I ordered this book second hand and it's even better than I imagined.

It's a very simple auto-biography filled with Blegvad's own illustrations as well as a few from instrumental artist friends and mentors.  He writes it in a conversational way, telling us about his father who hoped to become an artist but was a marine biologist instead, his grandfather who knew the King (of Denmark), and his childhood spent in Copenhagen.

He writes about going to art school and meeting his wife (the author Lenore Blegvad) in Paris.  And as to be expected, the accompanying pictures are wonderful.  There are rough sketches and two pages of what he calls "Roughs, Revisions, Dummies, Doodles, and Decorated Envelopes".  You can guess how much I just love the "decorated envelope" page!

Erik and his wife Lenore

Love these envelopes!!

Though I loved his work before, I love him even more now through this kind and inspirational biography.

     There's a lazy side to me.  I hold it responsible for placing a sunrise north of Copenhagen, or a sixth finger on a decorated envelope, and for occasionally making some stiff and graceless drawings. 
     But when my lucky side is working, I find myself concentrated at the tip of my pen.  Which to my delight, proceeds to create people, objects, and worlds I never knew existed.
     To have learned to observe at such an early age, to have stumbled into such a varied life, to have spent it with such extraordinary people- there's luck for you.

Other books illustrated by Erik Blegvad:


  1. Edward Gorey's drawings, including book covers, flashed to mind, not to in any manner suggest that Erik Blegvad's drawings are not completely distinctive and wonderful. I was merely surprised.

  2. Hello-
    I came upon your Blog as I looked on line for my Uncle Erik's name- I thought you might want to know that my darling Uncle Erik passed away yesterday. Your sweet comments made me sob here at my desk today- and having been so busy with work I had not allowed myself to fully let in the news of his passing this was a welcome thing. It is wonderful to know his beautiful work will live on. xoxo Meggie Price

  3. Wow, thanks for posting this. He is one of my favorite illustrators and I realized that many of the books I say I love are because of his drawings!

  4. I knew Erik as a man who liked a pint and talked wonderfully and knew the places in Denmark where the band I was in had played..we met principally at the Anglesea Arms in South Kensington. I had heard of his father Harald because he was a fish biologist; I worked at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, so lunchtimes were favourite with us..our good friend Donald Gee, the actor, was with him almost to the end, I believe. Erik was a lovely man.