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Jim Flora . The devil is in, (or behind) the detail

August 2, 2013

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Jim Flora had a rather devilish sense of humour and a knack for intermixing playfulness with the absurd. Here’s a few early sketches and woodblocks that he created.

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Born in 1914 his work was noticed initially by musical audiences, dancing on his wild Jazz and classical album covers for Columbia Records in the 1940’s and RCA Victor in the 1950’s. His website says that ” Flora’s album covers pulsed with angular hepcats bearing funnel-tapered noses and shark-fin chins who fingered cockeyed pianos and honked lollipop-hued horns. Yet this childlike exuberance was subverted by a tinge of the diabolic. Flora wreaked havoc with the laws of physics, conjuring flying musicians, levitating instruments, and wobbly dimensional perspectives. Taking liberties with human anatomy, he drew bonded bodies and misshapen heads, while inking ghoulish skin tints and grafting mutant appendages. He was not averse to pigmenting jazz legends Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa like bedspread patterns. On some Flora figures, three legs and five arms were standard equipment, with spare eyeballs optional.” And they were telling the truth !

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A few Magazine articles.

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Countryside meets cityscape.

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Jim Also created illustrations for over 17 Children’s books, a couple are featured below, more  here.


This great A to Z of ‘not so obvious’ words from Jim’s era.

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After living in Mexico in the 1950’s Jim’s work reflected elements of mexican folk lore and later on a love of the sea and sea craft too.

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His family have created a great set of greeting cards based on his work which are available in the ‘little shop of Flora’s on their site.

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I also discovered a fabulously, funky range of wallpapers printed by Design Your Wall. Lovely colour schemes and selections of Jim’s most popular illustrations. What a great idea, I’ll take three rolls of the yellow skyscrapers please !

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For more links to Jim’s weird and wonderful work have a look here on his families website.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2013 8:40 am

    I love Jim Flora. His work’s just bursting with mad energy. Seeing his stuff is a great way to start the day – so thanks for sharing!

  2. August 2, 2013 2:03 pm

    Fantastic, I’ve only recently discovered Jim Flora’s work through Pinterest, there are some amazing images here – thanks Craig! Rachel 🙂

    • August 2, 2013 2:20 pm

      My Pleasure Rachel, how forward thinking was he working in the late forties ?

  3. Lisa permalink
    August 2, 2013 3:00 pm

    Very nice, did he also do a set of covers for The Lord of the Rings? I have a very old slipcovered set that looks remarkably like his work.

  4. August 2, 2013 3:43 pm

    Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment. I can’t find anything on Jim’s site that mentions Lord of the Rings covers but it’s possible. You can email them and ask if you’re still curious to find out : ) Must have been remarkable covers ! You weren’t thinking of this ?

  5. August 2, 2013 4:40 pm

    Great blog as ever, Craig. The First Book of Jazz, though (the image of which seems to strangely come and go here) has illos by Cliff Roberts. I picked up a copy of the book really cheaply some years ago! (Smug look!) Mr Roberts was clearly influenced by J.F.

    • August 2, 2013 5:00 pm

      Well spotted Colin, eagle eyed as ever lol I got a very nice email from the Jim Flora family thanking me for my ‘ nicely arranged ‘ post and they mentioned that the said image belonged to Cliff Roberts so I took it out. His work looks pretty cool too. One for another day perhaps !

      • August 2, 2013 5:11 pm

        Aha, thought you may have deleted it, which explained its coming and going! Yes, a good candidate for another blog, some nice stuff online but not as prolific as Flora. I like to think they may have been friends rather than deadly rivals!

      • August 3, 2013 11:46 am

        I’d like to think they were friends too.

  6. August 3, 2013 5:43 pm

    This guy is faberooni!! xxxx

    Sent from my iPhone

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