The context of the narratives depicted in Tom Herzberg’s paintings isn’t always clear for the viewer. Yet, the humorous and occasionally unsettling watercolor and acrylic works are absorbing and offer the chance to form our own theories about each’s wild characters. Herzberg is a Chicago-based artist and educator whose illustrations for magazines, books, newspapers, and other products number in the thousands.
Specifically, Herzberg painted and drawn for the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, Playboy, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and others. He also spent a 15-year stretch as an instructor at the American Academy of Art. His work in fine art, as of late, continues to showcase the artist’s penchant for character design, with strange characters off on adventures and wrestling with obstacles. The pop-surrealist vibes of his personal work may vary with his editorial work in content, yet narrative is always at play.
Works like “Why Does She Need To Be Like That?” also show Herzberg’s strange creations in quieter moments, its subject’s hands clasped in contemplation. We may not know what its troubles are, but that’s just another engrossing aspect of Herzberg’s work: scanning his worlds for answers.