Charles Gehm’s career as an illustrator was not limited to romance book covers. He was also a fine artist, a designer of movie posters, collectors’ prints, and plates, and an art teacher.
Charles Gehm, Fine Artist, Book Illustrator, and More
Early Life and Education
Charles C. Gehm hailed originally from Alliance, OH, where he was born on September 20, 1929.
As a senior at Alliance High School, he and a fellow classmate painted murals that hung in the auditorium for almost 25 years.
Also, while still a student, both the Canton Art Institute and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown displayed the young Gehm’s paintings in 1948. He was the recipient of a 1948 Scholastic Art Award Certificate of Merit. AHS inducted Gehm into its Hall of Fame in 1985.
After graduating in 1948, Gehm attended the Columbus Art School (now Columbus College of Art and Design) on a scholarship.
Like many men of his time, he was a military veteran. From 1950 until 1953, Gehm served in the U.S. Army in Korea.
After his service, he attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts from 1953 until 1955.
Career As a Commercial Artist
Charles Gehm enjoyed great success both as a commercial artist and a fine artist.
His collectible art projects include several limited-edition prints to celebrate the film Gone With The Wind. In honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of the Brothers Grimm, he designed collector’s plates for the Bradford Exchange.
Gehm created paintings for movie posters for films such as Barry Lyndon, The Betsy, Death on the Nile, The River, and The Island.
Gehm’s illustrations appeared in magazines such as Life, Time, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Good Housekeeping.
Career as a Cover Artist
Charles Gehm created hundreds of memorable book covers for almost every major publishing house during his career as a book illustrator.
He painted book covers for books by Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow. In addition, he illustrated several children’s books, including Soup and The House without a Christmas Tree.
Retirement, Death, and Legacy
As a fine artist, his oil paintings have been shown nationwide, appearing in galleries in states such as NY, AZ, OH, MA, and CT.
Charles Gehm received numerous awards during his long career. He was inducted as a member of the prestigious Society of Illustrators in New York, NY. He was a mentor to artist James Griffin, encouraging him to work as an illustrator.
In 2000, he and his wife, Judith E. York—also a noted artist and illustrator of romance covers—moved to Gaylordsville, Connecticut. For years he taught illustration, painting, and design at West Connecticut State University (WCSU) as an adjunct professor, as well as at the elite Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
In 2002, he was selected by the New York Stock Exchange to create its Christmas card for that season. The original painting now hangs in the NYSE Museum.
Charles Gehm passed away on Saturday, June 13th, 2015, in Danbury, CT, and was survived by his wife, Judy, and brother, Phillip Gehm.
Charles Gehm Covers
- AHS Alumni Foundation – Charles C. Gehm
- Killer Covers
- My Love-Haunted Heart
- The News-Times: Charles Gehm Obituary (2015) – Gaylordsville, CT
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