I was going to hold off on posting last week’s update until Sunday, but I decided to do something for Thanksgiving.
I’m thankful for many things, but today I will focus on one person who I have yet to properly thank.
Albert T. McNea (1940-2005) was an Irish-American industrial design illustrator. He was a senior designer for the Ford Motor Company for 30 years, and when he moved to the west coast he worked for Boeing and Walter Dorwin Teague. As you might expect from his work experience, his skill at drawing vehicles, whether cars, planes, or boats, was unmatched. Unfortunately, very little of his work can be found online. I wouldn’t have known of his legendary skill if he hadn’t been my illustration professor at the Art Institute of Seattle.
Professor McNea’s job was mostly about vehicles, but he drew all sorts of other things in his own time. As a member of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Painters, he would also do landscapes and seascapes. He also did a little cartooning, and admired two comic strips above all others: Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland and Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes.
I sometimes talk about how my work derives from the work of Japanese moe-specialists such as Kito. But I owe just as much to Professor McNea – probably more, since he actually gave me feedback, showed me how to correct my mistakes, and pushed me to keep improving. My style looks more like Kito’s than Professor McNea’s, but if you look carefully, you can see the influence of the old Irishman in my work: vehicles, natural landscapes, cartoons of heavy black lines. I’m obviously not as good as Professor McNea (or Kito, for that matter), but to become great, you have to strive to emulate the best.
Professor McNea was the first Irishman I met in my life. While he didn’t introduce me to Irish food or music, I don’t think I would have gravitated toward them if he hadn’t given me a positive impression of being Irish. It is said that the Irish are fighters, and Professor McNea approached his work and his students with great energy and passion, even late in his life. As he liked to say, “There’s snow on the peak, but there’s fire in the furnace”.
The “Irishness” of Lunasa in Autumn Children, as well as what Shizuha learns she can do to help the people of Gensokyo throughout the year (as you will see in the December updates), are inspired by Professor Albert T. McNea.
Thanks for everything, Professor.