A history of illustration – Maritz Motivation Company -Tom Lavelle

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Tom Lavelle
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Illustration by Tom Lavelle

I first saw Tom Lavelle,in 1960, when I was a student at Washington University.My illustration class was taking a tour of an illustration studio, which I believe,was called Centaur. Tom was one of the star illustrators and, as a student, I was impressed by his work. I met Tom in 1968 while I was working at a St.Louis illustration studio and Tom was renting a room in this studio. Tom, at this time, was creating the illustrations I have placed on this blog post, for a company called Maritz Motivation Company in Fenton,Missouri. At this time Tom was ,I believe, loosing his confidence in his ability to illustrate. He had been commissioned by Maritz to create five illustrations for the Fashion section of a Book of Awards that was produced every year by Maritz. Tom took a long time to create these illustrations,three of which are on this post. During his time at this studio,whose name I don’t want to publish,Tom said I should work at Maritz and if I did, he said I would be a star. At this time I thought this would not be a good fit for me. Several months later the studio went out of business and I went to work at Maritz. This turned out to be a very good thing and I did turn out to become a very well respected illustrator for eleven years at Maritz.

Maritz in 1969, when I began working there, was a lot like the show Mad Men; people smoking ,drinking at lunch and some employees having affairs. Very few woman artist or African American artist were employed there.
I have included the pages that Tom’s fashion illustrations appeared in and you can see from the photos that the fashion was very Mad Men.

Tom Lavelle in the 1970’s

illustration by Tom Lavelle

Illustrations by Tom were very much a formula,as were many illustrators who worked in St. Louis at this time. Men and women had a certain look that was taught to me at Washington University by an illustrator named Bob Watkins.

Illustration by Tom Lavelle

I always have appreciated Tom’s kind words about my abilities as an illustrator,especially at a time when my confidence was low.


  1. Glenn Myers says:

    I remember Tom. He came to Maritz Communication Company after I left there. I continued to do freelance work with them and Tom befriended me and was a great encourager. He was kind enough to use the term “star” with me as well. But, with you it turned out prophetic. Like Bill, another great guy to know and be around.

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