The art of John Falter is idyllic. Like many American Illustrators of his time, his work is a celebration of Americana and the American way of life. These images are a romanticized vision of America during the middle of the last century.
John Falter’s career was largely supported by magazine covers. The Great Depression was in full swing and many artists turned to pulp magazines for work. Liberty magazine was the first to feature Falter’s work. This gave him the exposure needed to spark the interest of larger companies like Gulf Oil and Arrow Shirts. Eventually, this led to the Saturday Evening Post. His first cover was an image of Ben Franklin for the January 1st, 1943 issue. His father once remarked that he would not be a true artist until he did a cover for the Post. Not only did John Falter achieve this, he was also among the youngest contributors for the magazine.
Falter would go on to produce over 200 covers for various magazines and 47 books for Reader’s Digest, mostly scenes of his childhood in Nebraska and Kansas. Each one was an expression of his love for America. There is a sense of sweetness in these images. He depicts an idealized America in wonderful detail. The colors are vibrant and bright, but not artificial. People are naturally posed and are comfortable in their surroundings. The viewer feels uplifted when studying a Falter piece.
During World War II, John Falter joined the Navy. After it was learned that he was a professional artist, he was commissioned with special art duties. He created 300 posters; many were directed at recruiting women into WAVES or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. The WAVES poster “Proud – I’ll Say!” is very typical of Falter’s work. It depicts a father in his study holding a framed photo of his daughter in military dress. It is a wholesome and friendly image. The father is a clean-cut and respectable looking man with obvious pride in his eyes. It presents the idea of women volunteering for military service as honorable without challenging the conservatism of the era.
Throughout his career, John Falter strived to celebrate the best America has to offer. Before his death, he was working on a series of a definitively American experience—immigration. Overall, each of his paintings has hope and optimism.