Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Camouflage Artist | I.B. Hazelton

Recruiting Poster (1914) by I.B. Hazelton
Isaac Brewster Hazelton (known professionally as I.B. Hazelton) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 30, 1875. At age three, his family moved to Wellesley, where, in 1889, he graduated from Wellesley High School. That same year, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied Engineering, Draftsmanship and Art. He graduated from MIT in 1894.

Hazelton’s father was a prominent physician named Isaac Hills Hazelton, who served during the Civil War as Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy, and, subsequently, as a doctor at two asylums for the insane, in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. There were three daughters in the family, one of whom was Mary Brewster Hazelton, who became an accomplished portrait painter. The extensive family papers, known as the Hazelton Family Collection, are housed in the Wellesley Historical Society in Wellesley MA.

Throughout his life, I.B. Hazelton was a prolific illustrator, specializing in illustrations for advertisements, pulp magazines and books. After marrying in 1906, he and his wife moved to Providence, where he taught for several years at the Rhode Island School of Design.

In 1912, they settled in New York, where he worked for a publishing firm, while also concurrently working as a freelance illustrator. World War I began in Europe in 1914, and, although the US did not enter the war until 1917, Hazelton began to look for ways to contribute to the war effort.

According to David Saunders, in a biographical essay on the website for Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists, Hazelton designed a popular army recruiting poster (Men Wanted for the Army) in 1914, as is reproduced above. Saunders adds that later—

On September 12, 1918, he registered wth the draft board and was recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with gray eyes and brown hair. He was forty-four, married and the father of a child, so he was not selected for military service.

Denied the option of active service, Hazelton studied ship camouflage in 1918 with muralist and camouflage artist William Andrew Mackay (as proven by a letter signed by Hazelton and other associates of Mackay on September 25, 1918). For the remainder of the war, he worked in New York (as noted in a listing of the civilian wartime service of MIT graduates) as a

Marine Camoufleur, N.Y. District, U.S. Shipping Board, superintending painting of camouflage designs on ships, and research on the subject of camouflage.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hazelton pursued his work as an illustrator for newspapers, books and magazines. At age 73, while commuting to his Jersey City home from his Manhattan studio, he died of a heart attack on January 27, 1943.


Note A slightly different version of this biographical entry has also been contributed to askART.com.