Lowell Hess... Illustrator, Designer, Paper Engineer
“Almost everything that guy ever did makes my head explode.”
- A contemporary illustrator, commenting on Lowell Hess' work.
Lowell Hess, the original design genius behind many Graphics3’s card designs was an Oklahoma native. Lowell served as a lieutenant in the US Army artillery in Europe during World War II and later attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Lowell came of age as a commercial artist during what is known today as the ‘latter Golden Age of Illustration’, a post-war contemporary of Norman Rockwell, Harry Anderson, Boris Artzybasheff, N.C. Wyeth, Dorothy Lathrop and Charles Kerins, the illustrators that epitomized the era of printed media. During the heyday of magazine illustration terrific commercial artists, including Art Seiden, Hawley Pratt, Tom Oreb, Aurelius Battaglia, Lowell Hess, Charly Harper and Moritz Kennel rose to prominence. Known for his "strength of line", Lowell's creative work shined forth from the covers of many of national publications, including Collier's and Boy's Life as well as illustrating numerous children’s books for the Golden Books series, his work touching millions. At one point Lowell also worked for the Hallmark Cards, Inc. of Kansas City, Missouri.
Lowell demonstrated an uncanny ability to visualize the transformation of 2-d art into 3-dimensional reality, “strength of line” translating naturally into cut paper. A new frontier in pop-up design was crossed when Lowell designed the first commercially viable rubber band activated pop-up Christmas card designs for Graphics3 Inc.. Theses innovative freestanding pop-up card designs did not require a manually operated cover or to unfold; a rubber band would pop the card up on removal from the envelope, capturing the attention of recipients, the cards transforming into elaborate paper miniatures and gifts. Lowell’s considerable talents had found new expression in dimensional paper. Graphics3 customers and their lucky recipients have been the beneficiaries ever since.
In 1990, for the first time, Graphics3 entered seven of Lowell’s original pop-up card designs in the International Greeting Card Awards held by the Greeting Card Association in conjunction with the National Stationary Show held in New York City. Known as the “Louie” awards; so named for Louis Prang, the father of the American Christmas card, this is the greeting card industry’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Emmy, Oscar or Tony Awards. The event was held in the famed Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom and was hosted by actress Mariette Hartley. In the first year entered all seven of Lowell’s Graphics3 produced pop-up card designs were nominated as finalists in every category entered, winning outright in five of those categories and winning the industry’s highest honor, the “Louie” award for ‘Card of The Year’ in the Traditional Christmas Category, for his ‘English Toy Shoppe’, a Lowell Hess design inspired by Charles Dickens. In 1991, the last year entered, another Lowell Hess design again won the category for Best Traditional Christmas Card; this within an 800 company strong greeting card industry.
“We draw our design ideas from a wide variety of social and cultural sources but the creation and production of our pop-up cards is very much an art. Every card is highly unique in its innovative design, the paper stock and the rubber band that makes them pop.” – Lowell Hess.
Later in life Lowell engaged his creative talents in whittling whimsical wood-carvings, carrying his good humored vision into yet another dimensional medium. In a prolific career that spanned 6 decades, Lowell Hess combined knife, brush and paper with whimsical brilliance. Anyone receiving a Graphics3 pop-up card is a bit awestruck at the ingenuity of someone that could conceive and create such elaborate three-dimensional paper designs. Every card Graphics3 produces is a reincarnation of the creative process begun in Lowell Hess' studio. Each card is painstakingly hand assembled for the most important occasions - yours!
From the Japanese art of origami to the Scherrenschnitte craft of Germany, cultures around the world have found timeless appeal in simple paper cleverly cut, folded or printed as meaningful social expressions. With the Victorian industrial age western civilization brought intricate manufactured pop-up books and greeting cards to the public that are treasured by collectors today. To this tradition Graphics3 brings a bit of ‘Yankee ingenuity’; the innovation of rubber band activated freestanding pop-up card designs first pioneered by Lowell Hess. Since 1974 Graphics3 Inc., has been the leading the proprietary designer, manufacturer and original publisher of rubber band activated pop-up greeting cards, calendars and custom pop-up projects. Graphics3 enables businesses of every size to create positive relationships, awareness and lasting goodwill with pop-up greeting cards during the holidays, pop-up calendars for the year and custom designs for promotional use.
Graphics3's unique expertise is an outgrowth of involvement in the commercial printing business going back to 1935, where a reputation for producing unusually challenging graphic arts projects was established at Herlin Press Inc, of West Haven, Connecticut. In 1976 Lowell Hess evolved the concept of Graphics3's very first rubber band activated pop-up Christmas card. This card, now a collectible, was so warmly received by our customers that they, in effect, put us in the greeting card business. Each year we add new designs to our collection and showcase all our current designs in our mail catalog and web site.
Graphics3’s popular rubber band-activated pop-up polygon desk calendars have been in continuous production and manufactured here in the USA since the business was founded in 1974. To ensure consistent quality our polygon production is fully automated on machines we developed and patented.