Born in Ely, Minnesota in 1922, Frank Kalan studied at the Institute of Art in Chicago and afterwards got his start in the commercial art world as Al Buell's apprentice.  During WWII he served as a gunner in the Air Force and in the late 1950's he moved to NYC where he joined Al Chaite's midtown advertising studio.  Early clients included Pyramid Books, Avon Publishers, Coca Cola and Chesterfield Cigarettes. Kalan worked in pen and ink as well as oil and at the time was best known for his "bodice-ripper" book covers. Friends and colleagues included Bob Abbett, Joyce Ballantyne, Marilyn Conover, Ben Denison, Darrel Greene, Lenny Goldberg, Bob McGinnis, Barney Plotkin, Joe Rakowsky and Jack Thurston.

When photography eventually replaced illustration as the ad medium of choice, Kalan went on to spend the 70's, 80's and 90's producing romance novel cover art for Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises. He also captured a sliver of Harlequin marketing history by saving 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. Six full sets, from instruction to final product, can be seen on the Process tab

In December 2017, Kalan'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. Another 200 covers remain in family possession; half appear here and a link to view the rest of the catalog is coming shortly. All were done on boards sized roughly 16"x20" and produced at the rate of one per month, or sometimes two. 

We welcome inquiries from parties interested in exhibition, research or individual acquisition. Prices for the romance cover oil paintings range from $400-$550; please inquire regarding acquisition of "sets" that include supporting materials. To see the title, size, year and current availability for any particular work hover over the image and a caption will appear with the information.

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