Elbert McGran, or E.M., Jackson (1896-1962), was one of the principal artists for The Saturday Evening Post and Country Gentleman magazines, with 58 covers to his credit. He showed an interest in drawing from an early age. As a child there was only one art teacher in town from which he could take lessons, and he did so with zeal. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in architecture. Once he realized that his passion was illustration, he began studying art at night. He was mentored by established illustrators, such as James Montgomery Flagg, and sold his first illustrations as a young man.
An artistic specialty of Jackson’s was painting women in poses that made them appear seductive and glamorous amidst architecturally authentic backgrounds. His technique was spontaneous as he painted from posed models. Usually, he illustrated for manuscripts involving romance and high society. However, he also illustrated for a wide variety of genres, including murder mystery and masculine adventure.
More than thirty of Jackson’s Post covers were illustrated during the 1920s. Jackson drew many covers that were sentimental or humorous. Jackson also painted portraits that represented the modern relationships between men and women, such as the May 10, 1930 Post cover of a young man and a young woman sitting back to back at a barber shop taking in one another’s new hairdos.
Through his work at the Post, E.M. Jackson, known primarily for his realist/representational art style, showed a more whimsical and varied side to his long and successful career as an illustrator, before his passing in 1962.