Edgard Cirlin





Born January 16, 1913 in Montreal, Canada; Cirlin's family moved to Detroit when he was young, and he attended Cass Technical High School there. After graduation, he studied at a Detroit art school for a year, on a scholarship. Following a period of travel back and forth between Detroit and Florida, he took night classes under George Salter at the Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art, and graduated around 1942.

Cirlin began his career in commercial art as a freelance sign painter, working both at his Greenwich Village house and a studio in East 35th Street which he shared with Lester Kohs. In 1945 and 1946 his circle of friends included Salter, Kohs, Riki Levinsn, Philip Grushkin, Rafael Palacios, George Hornby and Gobin Stair.

Stair was art director at Bantam Books at this time, and some of the others worked on cover illustrations for Bantam and Penguin Books. Cirlin's first paperback assignment was to do a cover for Bantam 5, Scaramouche. Although he had the ability to draw quite well, he was then using a rather clumsy drawing style which he had picked up from George Salter.

According to designer and publisher Hornby:"He was the best calligrapher in America, but you never knew if he could deliver on time. I often had to go around there at six in the morning, practically with a pistol pointed at his head, to get him finish things for me."

Rafael Palacios remembers:"One time, Cirlin had to do a cover for a Simon & Schuster book called Ceasar and Christ. He lettered the title beautifully, in lovely big Roman capitals, in three lines over the entire cover:Ceasar - and - Christ. Then he had to sign it, and he put his name very small in the middle of the cover, so it read: Ceasar - Cirlin - and - Christ! And then there's the story about why he never had to go into the army during the war: when he was called up and they asked him what he did for a living, he said he made jackets; they thought he meant work jackets and, since the manufacture of workclothing was considered essential, they didn't induct him!"

Cirlin taught at Cooper Union until about 1950. In 1953 he moved out to the Los Angeles area; he was the art director for UCLA for a time, did graphic work for motorcycle and aviation magazines, designed a series of albums for the Audio Books Company and worked on "Designer and the Printing Press", a series outlining the history of typography.

He died in 1973.




(from The Book of Paperbacks by Piet Schreuders, Virgin Press, 1981)