The CalArts Pool Fisheye Snapshot

Leo Monahan (Chouinard 58)

Leo Monahan (Chouinard 58) shares, “Christmas, 1952. I was in the Navy during the Korean War. My ship, AKA54, was in Long Beach, Calif., for services. Another sailor and I went to Hollywood on liberty. We found the USO and put our names on a list for families to take servicemen home for Christmas dinner. Mr. Louis B. DeWitt took us home to an extended family dinner. They had gifts for us, dinner was great, and they had a lovely blonde daughter. Every chance I had, I was with that family. A year later, I was set to be discharged from the Navy. DeWitt, who was a prominent motion picture designer, asked me what I was going to do with my life. I said that I didn’t have a clue. He said that I should take the GI Bill and attend Chouinard Art Institute. I said, ‘OK.’ His suggestion changed my life. After one semester, I was awarded the Walt Disney Honor Scholarship. During my last year, I was a student-teacher of what was the Bauhaus design and color course. My first paper sculpture was of a man in a truck for an ad for Liberty Records. My partners and I were suddenly in the record business. I was essentially a graphic designer. In the next five years we designed approximately 1,200 record covers. I did occasional paper sculptures for ad agencies. As time went on, I became known for paper sculpture illustration in Los Angeles, then across the United States, and finally, internationally. I did paper sculpture illustrations for the next 50 years. In 1982, I received a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. And in February 2018, CalArts gave me the same honor.”