Will (William) H. Bradley Biography

A.K.A. William Henry Bradley.   Will Bradley was a cartoonist, illustrator, decorator, and architect. One of the leading American poster artists of the turn of the century, his facility in the graphic arts earned him the nickname "The American B," in reference to the great English graphic artist, Aubrey Beardsley. Born in Boston, Bradley received his first formal artistic education from his father, who worked as a cartoonist for the Daily Item, a local Massachusetts newspaper. In 1880 Bradley began a long career as a journalist, working for the Iron Agitator. He continued his journalistic pursuits until 1887 when he decided to move to Chicago to work for the prestigious painters, Knight and Leonard. By the 1890s he had become an independent designer, working for Harper's and other magazines. He established his own studio and produced theater posters as well as commercial advertisements. By 1895 he was back in Boston where he published "Bradley, His Book: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Art, Literature, and Printing".

In 1915 he began working for the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, acting as art supervisor to a film series produced by Hearst. By 1920 he was head art supervisor of the Hearst magazines and newspapers. In 1954, Bradley was awarded a gold medal by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Will Bradley's posters compare favorably with the best of the French and English poster designers of his generation. While Aubrey Beardsley set a formidable example, Bradley developed his own style of bold and elegant poster design relying, like Beardsley, on sharp contrasts of black and white for strong visual impact. In addition to his graphic work Bradley designed three houses for his family, revealing an interest in architecture influenced by the school of Glas gow and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. He died at the age of ninety-four in Short Hills, New Jersey.    The Saturday Evening Post called him the “Dean of American Designers.”