Oleg Stavrowsky

Born in Harlem, New York in 1927 to immigrant parents, Oleg Stavrowsky’s interest in art began in high school. During the Second World War, Oleg was drafted into the Army, served in Europe, and honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1949. After his return to the United States, he met and married his wife Georgia Carol. Together they have raised eight children, and have been married for sixty-six years. Oleg said of himself: “Very few people know me personally and I have heard that I don’t really exist, that I am black (because I was born in Harlem), that I am from the ‘old country,’ (because of my name), and that I don’t speak English. Of course, none of this is true. I got through two years of high school, was drafted in 1945, and got honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1949. I fooled around with ten thousand incidental jobs and finally when I was about thirty, decided I liked graphics. I started out as a draftsman, then I got a pretty good job as a technical illustrator and I was really cooking with McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft. Then I got interested in fashion drawing and got into freelance commercial art. My first real illustration job was rendering a pair of pants for a company in Kansas City. My only real teacher was a book, “Creative Illustration” and some correspondence with its author, the great illustrator Andrew Loomis. After a few trials early on, I had developed a solid reputation as a 'hot dog', and worked pretty steadily. In those days illustration was widely used in advertising and I had many good accounts. That gradually began to shift more towards photography and I could tell that a change was in the wind. One day back in about 1969, I was in Oklahoma City and decided to see what was happening at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. I liked what I saw and made up my mind that I’d like to give that a try. I guess we all like Cowboys and Indians. It was pretty successful right from the start and I’ve been at it ever since. I turned out to be a real country hick. I have no desire to live in the city anymore. One big factor in my life is jazz. When I paint, I am listening to music. Sixty-four bars of good saxophone is like four square inches of good brush licks on a canvas.” Oleg Stavrowsky passed away at his home in Cedar Park, Texas on May 15, 2020, at the age of 93.