The artist born George Melvin Erickson on January 31, 1883, in St. Paul Minnesota to parents John and Matilda Erickson, painted Post covers under the “brush” name Eugene Iverd.
The story goes that George Erickson told his brother, Carl, that he was going to become a famous artist one day, and when this happened he would make the name Eugene Iverd famous. Iverd was Carl’s middle name, which Carl disliked. And to make his brother feel better, George would take Carl’s middle name and add it to another friend’s name, Eugene — another unpopular name according to Carl. George would put them together to create his new alter-ego, Eugene Iverd.
He signed all of his commissioned artwork Eugene Iverd as a kind of pen (or brush) name. But there are several landscape paintings he signed with his own name, George Ericson — he often left out the “k” because he liked the look of that spelling better.
Covers by Eugene Iverd
Unlike most prolific magazine illustrators of his time, George Erickson did not live on the East Coast. He grew up in Minnesota, and at an early age he began to show signs of artistic talent. Although not much of an academic, his art could be found on everything from kindling to hymnals.
His mother supported him, but his father felt that art was a frivolous pursuit that would not take him far. George and his brother came up with creative jobs to support his schooling, such as setting up a concession outside of the local movie theatre. This provided him with the capital to complete his art training.
He enlisted in the Army during World War II, later working at Walter Reed Hospital doing art therapy with shell-shocked veterans. After his war service, George married Lillian Remund and moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they built their house which included an art studio.
He was a man of immense personal charm and enormous artistic talent and productivity. In 1926, he submitted his first picture to The Saturday Evening Post. The managing editor paid him a personal visit, telling him that Norman Rockwell was growing older and the magazine was in need of new blood. Iverd submitted four pieces and two were immediately accepted. His first artwork was published on March 13, 1926, a young boy daydreaming while playing the accordion. This began his 10-year run as an artist for The Saturday Evening Post. According to his daughter Jean Ericson Sakumura, he produced 55 magazine covers, some 60 advertisements, 15 published lithographs, 25 story illustrations, and hundreds of portraits or landscapes.
George Erickson became one of the best-known painter/illustrators in the country during the 1920s. Campbell’s Soup Company, Monarch Foods, and The Saturday Evening Post were among his high-profile clients.
His sudden death from pneumonia at the age of 43 was a tragedy. He left his widow with three small children in the height of the Depression.