Shel Silverstein

Silverstein Playboy 1960-03

The Commercial, Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is a famous children’s book illustrator, cartoonist, and musician. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 25th, 1930. He served in the U.S. Army in 1950 and worked on cartooning then. After his service, he began to cartoon and illustrate for several magazines. Silverstein had a gig with Playboy magazines. There he illustrated small cartoons for a number of years. A musician, he wrote and played music and became quite popular. He passed away on May 10th, 1999.

Soon after his music career began, he experimented with illustrating children’s books. Arguably his most famous book  was The Giving Tree. Shel’s art style was almost child-like, but was simple enough that children could easily interpret the drawings. Although his books were for children, there are deeper meanings and lessons to the “moral of the story” that are applicable in adult life.

SHEL - Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein – 1974

Pictured above is the cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which was a book of poems along with illustrations. Shel uses simple line work to create images in which is appealing and understandable to the child reading. The style and characters are fun and what many today see as the base of what children’s books are supposed to emulate.

The cartoon below, The Golfer, takes the idea of the “frustrated golfer” and turns it into a comical event in which everyone can laugh at. Again, simple line work is utilized and the viewer can clearly interpret what is going on. His ability to create an “easy-to-read” story is impeccable and one to aspire for.



The Golfer, Shel Silverstein

His style is one that can be used as inspiration. The fun aspect of Silverstein’s drawings is that he does not worry too much about perspective, proportions, and ensuring that every part is entirely realistic. By not worrying about this, he creates mesmerizing cartoons in which your eye investigates every line and dot. Try experimenting with this style in your own way and see what sort of results will come of it.


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