Biography: Benjamin Kimberly Prins

(1902-1980)

Occupation:

Artist, Illustrator, Advertising Art Director

Schools:

Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design, The New York School of Fine Arts, The Art Student’s League, and The Grand Central School of Art.

Studio Work:

BBDO Advertising

Art Genre/Grouping:

American Art

Awards and Honors:

The Society of Illustrators and The Art Director’s Club

 

Biography

Benjamin Kimberly Prins had a storied career in the advertising world, a profession that eventually led him to critical acclaim as a famous magazine illustrator. His covers for The Saturday Evening Post showed an innocent America, often on the cusp of peril. In opposition to Norman Rockwell’s ideal America, Prins tended to focus on catastrophes: troubles, storms, awkward run-ins, problems, and dilemmas facing Americans of the day.

Born in Leiden, Holland in 1902, Prins’ family had made its way to America by the time the young artist was ready to attend fine arts schools in New York City. Prins devoted himself to his instruction in the arts, completing many academic programs before beginning his career as a working artist.

Prins attended the Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design, The New York School of Fine Arts, The Art Student’s League, and The Grand Central School of Art. He studied carefully under the tutelage of fine arts mentors George Bridgman and Dean Cornwell.

After completing his studies and finding work as an artist in New York City advertising, Ben Prins moved to the artists’ community of Wilton, Connecticut. He spent his entire career working and commuting from Wilton, enjoying the countryside outside of the urban sprawl of the city’s five major boroughs.

The artist eventually worked his way up the American corporate advertising ladder to run the art departments of some of America’s greatest advertising firms. From 1939-1945, in the middle years of his long career in corporate advertising, Prins spent 6 years as the Art Director at BBDO (Batton, Barton, Durstine & Osborn) Advertising. Even today, BBDO is one of the most famous and internationally recognized advertising firms. It is still based out of New York City with over 15,000 employees at 289 offices in 80 countries.

Prins also worked on private illustrations throughout his career in traditional 9-to-5 office jobs. His illustrations made the covers of magazines such as McCall’s, Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, and of course, The Saturday Evening Post. The artist completed the majority of his magazine illustrations during the 1950s era of American idealism, until the popularity of photography took hold over magazines. Prins completed over thirty-three cover and inside illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post during this time period.

For his contributions to the art and advertising world, Benjamin Kimberly Prins was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame and granted membership into The Art Director’s Club, both based out of New York City. He passed away at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut, in 1980 at the age of 78.