Sandy Kossin – RIP

Illustrator Sandy Kossin has passed away.

Sanford Marshall (Sandy) Kossin
June 4, 1926 – (April?) 2023

Adrian Sinnott has shared the sad news that Sandy has passed away:

Another incredible talent and good friend gone. Sandy Kossin, proud Berndt Toast Gang, National Cartoonists Society and Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame member has passed. Here’s his bio from the BTG 50th anniversary show in 2016:

“Sandy Kossin has illustrated countless paperback covers and posters, notably The Shadow, The Last Temptation of Christ and Beckett and the Train. Building images with line became the hallmark of any Sandy Kossin painting. Starting with his roots in West Los Angeles near MGM Studios, Kossin eventually moved to New York City following his service in World War II. As his drawing skills improved, he managed to get his work in front of the right people– those who encouraged his desire to incorporate better concepts through better drawing. Each endeavor gave him more information for the next piece, while consistently maintaining the strength of his drawing. He was inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ prestigious Hall of Fame in 2012…”

Prabook has Sandy’s freelance career starting in 1952. In 1963 Sandy’s fame soared with his impressive illustrations for Life magazine’s Bay of Pigs cover feature article.

After Sandy’s Bay of Pigs masterpiece his talent was in constant demand by editors and art directors across the country. Magazine covers and inside illustrations, book covers and illustrations, movie posters, newspapers, and even MAD magazine managed to get a few pages from him.

Sandy was appreciated by illustrators too, as he was a 2013 Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame inductee.

Studying a Kossin painting is a lesson in how a simple line can vary in strength and express the realism necessary to describe a scene, while pushing the limits of abstraction. The line is everything to the artist. The push and pull of the thickness, the weight, the heft—shifting from hard to soft edges creates what he calls, “that electric line.” His focus on raw energetic line work carried over into describing dimensional edges as well, in order to achieve form. Smudging with his finger or scraping through layers of color to create an exciting edge was Kossin’s calligraphy, an unmistakable signature.

Then there’s his intense color, added unabashedly in bold passages. But was it laid down first or after the line? The layers don’t reveal his process so easily, as they combine to build a luminous layer of line and color—all piled up with Elmer’s Glue and Designer’s Gouache. The color appears fearless, almost cavalier, but there’s method here. “As long as you get the value right, you can get away with anything!” 

Further reading and appreciation and samples of Sandy’s art from:

Leif Peng

Mike Lynch

Drew Friedman

Gregory Manchess

The MacArthur Memorial

Sandy and Josephine – together again

illustrations © respective copyright owners