John Ford Clymer was born January 29, 1907 in Ellensburg, Washington. His parents were John and Elmira Clymer of 715 Capital Avenue. His father was a florist. After finishing high school John Clymer studied at the Vancouver British Columbia School of Art and the Ontario College of Art.
His first assignments were for Canadian periodicals and advertisements.
He married his wife Doris in 1932 and they raised three children.
In 1935 Clymer moved to NYC to study with Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art, where he met Norman Saunders and Ernest Chiriacka. According to Clymer, "Harvey Dunn told me once, 'Son, if you want my advice, you look too sickly to me to be an illustrator. It's a tough job, you know!' I decided right then and there that nothing would stop me from becoming an illustrator!"
Clymer's first work for the pulps was drawing black and white interior story illustrations for Adventure and Blue Book. He sold only a few freelance pulp covers to Romance and Triple-X Magazine.
In 1937 the Clymers moved to Westport, Connecticut, where he became friendly with Charles LaSalle, Tom Lovell, Remington Schuyler, and Amos Sewell.
Clymer served in the Marine Corps Reserve during WW2, along with his friend, Tom Lovell. They were assigned to Washington, DC., where they created artwork for the U.S. Marine Corps magazine, Leatherneck, as well as patriotic poster designs.
After the war John Clymer worked for men's adventure magazines such as Sports Afield, True, Outdoor Life and Argosy. He soon developed a significant career career as a slick magazine illustrator, working for such magazines as The American, Colliers, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Liberty, MacLean's, Redbook, Woman's Day, and The Saturday Evening Post.
By 1963 John Clymer had painted over eighty covers for The Saturday Evening Post, but the slick magazine industry eventually outgrew the artist star system. Annual contracts were not re-newed and even Norman Rockwell was out of work.
In 1964, following the lead of Tommy Lovell, Ernest Chiriacka, and Bob Harris, John Clymer began to explore a fine art career painting scenes from the Old West for exhibition at the Grand Central Art Gallery, 40 Vanderbilt Avenue, NYC.
In describing his working process, the artist advised the use of both sketches and photos, "The sketch gives you the feel, but the photo gives you the facts. Next, make a small oil on canvas for the mood. Then comes the finished painting, where you emphasize the beautiful and wonderful and leave everything else out."
In 1966, the Clymers moved to Teton Village, Wyoming, where John Clymer died at age eighty-two on November 2, 1989.
© David Saunders 2009