Back in the spring, I had the pleasure to interview Judie Anderson, illustrator, painter, and retired Art Director for the Chicago Tribune. Judie Anderson’s illustrations included children’s educational illustrations, editorial illustration and much more. What a thrill to talk to her about her life and career!
Judie Anderson told me about her early career as a fashion illustrator at a local newspaper. She talked about the challenges she faced as a woman in the field, “I worked for the Chicago American. And you talk about being an activist, I don’t know if you could formally classify me as an activist or not, but I walked into a man’s world in the newspaper business. Whereby I was the only woman in the art department and I could draw rings around these guys. They were all older than me. I was this young little cookie who walked in there. I brought in a lot of business for them.
“So when it came time for my review, I would go to the head of the department and see what he would say. He would tell me that: ‘You brought in all this business. This is wonderful. We’re so pleased to have you here, but I can’t give you a raise.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘Well because all these men have families. You’re single. You don’t need this.’ And I went, ‘It’s not based upon what I need, it’s based upon what I do.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s based upon what I choose to do.’ So, okay, I threatened to quit and he gave me a raise. Okay.
“Another year rolls around, I came back for a review all over again. I’m bringing in even more business at that time, so he said, ‘I still can’t give you a raise, Judie.’ And I said, ‘Yes, you can; otherwise, I quit.’ So we went through that charade for three years standing and then finally I decided: I’m quitting. And he said, ‘No, I’ll give you the raise.’ I said, ‘No, I’m quitting. I’m opening up my own business. I want to go freelance.’ And that’s it.”
Later on, she started a business with her husband Bill Anderson and eventually she joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune where she worked in political illustration until she became the head of the art department. She told me about the time when Mayor Washington died suddenly. “When Mayor Washington died, and that was on a Thanksgiving night, I had company here for Thanksgiving. I said, “Uh-oh, I’ll have to go to the paper tomorrow early in the morning and do something because we’ve got to produce something for this.” So I went in about 5 o’clock in the morning and I got a photograph out of our reference room. I did an illustration of him knowing that the editors would be in by about 10 o’clock all frantic. “What are we going to do?”... Well I had this done by the time they came in...But I really did have a very good career there. I loved it. I really enjoyed it. It was exciting. You’d get to meet many people. You were always on top of the news, and eventually they made me head of the art department.”
This is just a taste of a wonderful interview with the amazing Judie Anderson!
Judie, along with her late husband, Bill Anderson, are in a exhibition called Legacy/ Alliance at the Beverly Arts Center (2407 W 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655) thru Nov. 1 and the Fall Members show at the Elmhurst Artists Guild at the Elmhurst Art Museum (150 S Cottage Hill Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126).
Go check out their work!