My art education started with comic books and the artists that
created them: Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, and Steve Ditko to name a few.
I attended the American Academy of Art where I studied under the
masters, Fred Berger, Irving Shapiro, and Howard Mueller. There I
discovered Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and J.C.
Leyendecker. I earned an Associates Degree at the American Academy of
Art, a Bachelor of Arts at Northeastern Illinois University and a Post
Baccalaureate in Visual Communication at the School of the Art Institute
I have taught illustration, figure drawing, portraiture and graphic
design at the American Academy of Art, Ray College of Design, The School
of the Art Institute, Columbia College. I currently teach the History
of American Illustration at the Academy of Art San Francisco and at the
International School of Comics.
I have worked in advertising as a storyboard artist and product
renderer, in animation as a background painter, in editorial and book
illustration, in portraiture, in collectible card game art for Magic the Gathering
and the Harry Potter game. I am currently illustrating a series of
Robert E. Howard books for the REH Foundation. I am also illustrating The Beasts of Tarzan for Homeworld Press which will be reprinting all of Burroughs’ Tarzan stories in illustrated, hardcover formats.
Since 1981, I have worked as the courtroom sketch artist for the WGN,
NBC, and CNN television networks. I have drawn Mafiosi, corrupt
politicians and serial killers. I recently covered three high profile
trials: the trial of Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, the Jennifer
Hudson family murder trial, and the trial of the notorious Drew
In 2012, I painted a 20’ by 4’ mural for the children’s room in the Eisenhower Public Library in Harwood Heights, Illinois.
Since childhood I have been strongly influenced by comic books, film
and American illustrators. These influences continue to have tremendous
bearing on my work . Particularly engaging for me are the genres of film
noir, pulp magazine stories and pulp art from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
Film noir and pulp go hand-in-hand. The first such pulp character to
catch my attention was The Shadow. It was the dark, moody and mysterious
quality of this weirdly sardonic knight errant-vigilante that
In film noir, Orson Welles’ seminal masterpiece, “Citizen Kane”,
Robert Wise’ dramatic boxing vignette, “The Setup”, Jules Dassin’s
portrait of a hapless grifter in “The Night and the City” and Billy
Wilder’s eerily sardonic “Sunset Boulevard” still enthrall me to this
day. They draw me into a world of dark city streets, sinister
silhouettes and the sultry sound of high heels on wet pavement
reflecting garish neon lights. In the painting of the bare-knuckled
boxer, Sailor Steve, I wanted to capture the power of a man who was as
tough as the iron ships in which he stoked pitch-black coal into red-hot
furnaces. Hydraulics and High Heels is a teaser poster for my graphic
novel, Mechanic Anna. She is Rosie the Riveter Revisited. She is a
working-class woman, a mechanized female, a reluctant warrior and
somewhat of an outcast because of her hydraulic arm. Rod on the Witness
Stand depicts a man who rose to great heights in his political career,
only to be toppled by unbridled ambition culminating in a classic,
tragic film noir ending.
In my work I want to capture the era, the atmosphere and the drama
that is pulp and noir. It feels natural to me. I feel as if I were there
at the birth of such genres.
Sailor Steve Costigan: Fists of Iron Round 2, Oil on board 18”x24”