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Willi K Baum

May 16, 2022

Hello everyone, just a quick reminder that my online Fair starts this weekend, featuring a whole range of new ideas and hand made ceramics. It will be live on the website from 8am on the 21st May and will be open all weekend on there and also on my Instagram page For an opportunity to buy work before the general public, anybody who signs up to the mailing list via the website, will get an exclusive invite to the Preview evening on Friday 20 May 2022 from 6pm.

The GNCCF champions and promotes high quality, cutting edge contemporary craft and promotes designer makers, giving them a prestigious and high-profile platform to sell their work to a discerning audience. Designer-makers, from across the country and beyond, are invited to apply to showcase their work including ceramics, jewellery, glass, interior and fashion textiles, wood, silver and furniture. The fairs are over-subscribed and an independent panel of craft industry experts select the makers to ensure a high standard and variety of work – more than 50% of applications are unsuccessful.

Looking forward to seeing you over the weekend, please put a reminder in your diary and help spread the word to your friends and family who also appreciate exclusive craft. It would mean so much if you dropped by.

All the very best, Craig (@fishinkblog)

For further information on GNCCFonline, visit:-
Facebook : Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Instagram @great_northern_events
Twitter @GNCCF

Ok now onto today’s fab creative. I came across the fabulous work of Mid Century Artist Willi K. Baum but could find very little written about him, apart from this self-penned C.V. If he is with us still, I believe he should be turning 90 this year. Happily Remembered Mr Baum !! In his own words…

Adventures with pen and brush and camera, and traveling the world, would describe my life.

Born in Switzerland, my school years in Dresden, surviving the city’s destruction in WW2, I was fortunate to spend a 4‑year apprenticeship in Graphics in Switzerland after the war. At age 20, I won the national competition for the design of a poster for the Swiss National Philatelic Exhibition, also chosen among the best Swiss posters of 1951. It is now in the MOMA collection of N.Y.

After 4 years, adventure called, so I accepted a job as Art Director at South African Advertising in Cape Town.

My earnings there allowed me to discover S.Africa and eventually roam East Africa on a motor scooter, with a stint at East African Advertising in Nairobi. On safari with my Lambretta. I developed my love of wild life photography. Life was as interesting as the magic images on the stamps of my boyhood collection. Many exciting adventures alone in the bush living in a pup tent, got me as close as possible to amazingly tolerant wildlife.

Before returning to Europe, I earned my seaman‘s papers on a Panamanian tramp steamer in the Indian Ocean.

1956. Back in Europe and in need of income, I joined Unilever as Art Director in Hamburg and London.

1958. Left for the U.S., touring the country in a used Ford. Ended up in Denver, finding plenty of work in design free-lancing, and most rewardingly designing and illustrating national ads for “Martin- Denver” Space program.

After a short-lived marriage, took off for a 10-month trip to Japan, S.E. Asia and from there, overland to Europe, recording with sketchbook and camera.

1961. Return to U.S., freelancing for advertising in San Francisco. Discover kayaking on the beautiful bay. In 1962 start many fruitful VW trips to Mexico, drawing and water-coloring.

A long sojourn in San Miguel Allende offered a chance to study mural fresco painting, and a chance at learning horse jumping.

When the savings ran out, I returned to S.F. and on to N.Y.C. where good freelance work was to be found. From there a passage on a large ore-tanker to Rotterdam, drawing and painting on board.

1964. Again in S.F., design and illustration shifting to illustrating for the emerging creative national schoolbook market, launched by the most prominent publishers.

1969. Move my studio from Pier 39 to a house in Mill Valley. Work lead to illustrating children’s books and eventually writing around a dozen of my own picture books mostly for European publishers. Many story ideas originated on travels. Observing dance drama in Bali lead to a visual translation in the form of a large portfolio of 32 hand printed and hand colored linoleum cuts, the “Bali Ramayana”, still looking for a book publisher for the collection.

Having my own letterpress, allowed for an output of private linoleum cuts over the years. A home dark room allowed for printing my own b/w travel photos.

A very creative relationship with a book publisher in S.F. allowed for steady work in book dust-jacket design which allowed for continued travel, now with my shutter-bug wife Kimiko, who shares my love for Africa and it’s wild animals. The backyard of our home in Mill Valley is a favorite hangout for the local wild life. Willi Baum

What a great designer and an impressive range of artistic skills.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2022 12:03 pm

    Yes – an amazing journey through his life and artworks. Really fascinating and inspiring.

  2. Kathy Sokol permalink
    May 16, 2022 3:14 pm

    Your work is very familiar to me.
    Did you know my father? Bill Sokol, art Director for the NYT.

    Similar life story. He wrote and illustrated books with my
    mother, Camille Sokol.

  3. Maggie permalink
    May 18, 2022 11:43 pm

    Another amazing post filled with gems! Thank you so much for all the research and putting it together for us! I’ve been following you on Insta for a while and absolutely adore your design sense and everything you make. Previously I had found a link to your Pinterest page but I cannot find it again and would love to.😊

    • May 21, 2022 9:54 am

      Thanks Maggie. I’m on Pinterest as Fishink or sometimes searching for Fishinkblog brings me up too : )

      • Maggie permalink
        May 21, 2022 7:05 pm

        Thanks yes I have searched those many times. I guess you do not have your own account? I thought I had stumbled across your own homepage with lots of your works.

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