Six of David Dodges travel books are illustrated by Irv Koons.
Irvin Louis Koons was born March 1, 1922 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His father owned a printing shop and, as a teenager, he began assisting in the family business by designing items for their clients. After graduating from high school in Reading, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved earlier, he attended Pratt Institute in New York City. In 1942, at the age of twenty, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he held positions designing sets for Broadway performances heading overseas to entertain troops and as a designer/illustrator for the Army Information and Education Program.
After World War II ended, he began working as an illustrator for Simon and Schuster, where one of his first assignments was to illustrate How Green Was My Father (1947). He soon also began working for Random House, where he illustrated How Lost Was My Weekend (1948), The Crazy Glasspecker (1949), 20,000 Leagues Behind the 8-Ball (1951), The Poor Mans Guide to Europe (1953), and Time Out For Turkey (1955). During this time, he began turning more towards design than illustration and founded his own design firm, Irv Koons Associates, in 1949.
Koons has worked on projects for many companies and organizations designing packaging, advertisements and logos, leaflets, brochures, and booklets. Among his best-known clients are the American Cancer Society, Bristol Laboratories, Bloomingdales, Metropolitan Life, Mobil, and Seagrams. In addition to Simon and Schuster and Random House books, he has provided illustrations for a variety of periodicals, such as Fortune, Family Circle, Seventeen, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Sports Illustrated. He has also designed items for various Jewish organizations, including advertisements and publications for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in New York, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the American Jewish Tercentenary, the American Jewish Heritage Commission, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and several synagogues and community centers. Koons has also created Jewish art pieces, including Torah ornaments and stained glass windows.
Irv Koons has won numerous awards for marketing, packaging, and advertising. In 1982, he was named the Packaging Person of the Year by the Packaging Designers Council International. His products have won Clio awards several times, including three gold Clios, and his work is included in collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Hagley Museum, and Yeshiva University Museum. In 2001, Koons was included in 2000 Outstanding Artists and Designers of the 20th Century, published by the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England.
Two of Irv Koons illustrations for The Poor Mans Guide to Europe (1953)
- Irv Koons Design: http://www.irvkoonsdesign.com/
- Irv Koons Papers at Hagley Library (Wilmington, Delaware): http://www.hagley.lib.de.us/library/collections/manuscripts/koonspapersabst.html
- Irv Koons Papers at Yeshiva University Museum (New York, N.Y.): http://digifindingaids.cjh.org/?pID=92137
Randal Brandt, November 2009
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