Frank Kalan was born in Ely, Minnesota in 1922. When he decided to pursue illustration he left for Chicago where he studied at the American Academy of Art and got his professional start working as Al Buell's apprentice. After serving as a gunner in the Air Force during WWII, Frank returned to Chicago and worked for a variety of clients including the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Brown & Bigelow and Playboy, there under the direction of Art Paul. Peers and friends included Eddie Augustiny, Joyce Ballantyne, Hank and Marilyn Conover, Ben Denison, Gil Elvgren, Babe Jacobson, Euclid Shook, Haddon Sundblom and Thornton Utz.

After a short stint in Atlanta, Frank moved to NYC where he worked for the Fredman/Chaite Studios with Frank McCarthy, Robert McGinnis, Bob Peak, Jack Thurston, Coby Whitmore and many others. Clients there included Chesterfield Cigarettes, Norelco, and Coca-Cola, for which he did several projects including the 1961 75th Anniversary "Portrait of a Business" magazine and a series of paintings exhibited at the 1964/65 World's Fair in Flushing Queens, New York. 

For many years Frank did commissions for paperback book publishers such as Avon, Pyramid and Ballantyne and in the late 70's, when photography started to replace illustration as the ad medium of choice, he began a three-decade stint producing romance novel cover art for Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises. In addition to saving over 300 original oils, Frank kept many of his Art Directors' instruction notes, model shots, sketches and final jacket covers, which taken together show how a cover got made. Regardless of style ("high sensuality," "low sensuality" or "family oriented") the work always had to place the hero and heroine center stage, connect with the target market to cement the sale and provide a scene the reader could return to while imagining the lives of the characters. For process fans interested in the marketing aspect of the genre, six full sets, from instruction to final product, can be seen on the Process tab

In December 2017, Frank's family donated 130 covers and supporting materials to the Browne Popular Culture Library at BGSU in Ohio, where they now make up The Frank Kalan Romance Cover Art Collection. The remainder are in family possession. A selection appear on the Work tab, categorized by theme, and the rest can be seen here. All were done on boards sized roughly 16"x20" and produced at the rate of one per month, or sometimes two, to satisfy ever-growing reader demands. 

We welcome any questions regarding the illustration process, exhibition, research or acquisition.

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