About the Artist
Douglas Simonson is one of the world’s best-known interpreters of the male figure. His work hangs in collections in over 80 countries on 6 continents.
Born and raised in the dry, dusty cattle country of the western U.S., Simonson was encouraged in his art by his mother, also an artist. When he was 19, Simonson left his home town of Thedford, Nebraska to move to Honolulu, Hawaii.
In Honolulu, Simonson studied art at the University of Hawaii and the Honolulu Academy of Art. He also drew, painted and studied voraciously on his own, absorbing the influence of such diverse masters as Velázquez, Vermeer, Rubens, Sorolla, Sargent, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Modigliani, Matisse and Picasso.
Simonson also found time for an amazing diversity of experiences and careers, from sign-painting to typesetting to writing radio and television commercials. Then, in 1981, with the help of two close friends, Simonson wrote, illustrated and published a book called Pidgin to da Max, which went on to become one of the best-selling books ever published in Hawaii. Since then, Simonson has created or co-created 14 books, which have been published in 3 countries and in 5 languages, with a total of over 350,000 copies in print.
At around the same time as the success of Pidgin to da Max, Simonson began experimenting with fine art again — something he had not done for several years. Although he’d been fascinated by the male figure for most of his life, his own fears and insecurities had kept him from exploring it in his art. But around 1980, Simonson put aside his fears and began focusing on the male nude as his primary subject matter.
At first he was concerned that the male figure might be too narrow a focus, that it might limit his growth as an artist. But the opposite proved to be true. For the first time, Simonson felt that he was painting what he had always been meant to paint. He found the male figure to be a continuous source of inspiration, and he began producing art—paintings, drawings, prints —with an energy and enthusiasm that he had never felt before.
Today Simonson is as committed to, and inspired by, the male figure as he was then. In the interim he has shared his art with hundreds of thousands of admirers, been interviewed in dozens of newspapers and magazines and on television and radio, has shown his work in many venues, and built a worldwide reputation.
One of the most unusual aspects of the career of this unusual artist is the fact that galleries are not his primary means of reaching collectors. For the first 15 years of his career, Simonson communicated with most of his clientele by mail, sending color slides, and sometimes printed flyers, to interested collectors. In this way the artist built a global following.
Thus Simonson was uniquely positioned to benefit from the advent of the Internet. He built his first website in 1995 and within a few months his art was selling briskly online. Millions of visitors later, his website is his primary gallery, showcasing thousands of his works, and offering a broad range of Simonson art-related items, like posters, limited-edition prints, calendars, cards, books, e-books and more. You can also read Simonson’s Artist’s Blog (a WordPress blog also accessible through the Simonson website) to get an entertaining and profusely illustrated insight into the artist’s creative process.
Douglas Simonson currently lives and works in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but keeps a studio and office in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can contact the artist directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at: Douglas Simonson, PO Box 22278, Lincoln, NE 68542, USA. Phone: (308) 221-1360.
- 1981, 1991: Artists of Hawaii, Juried Exhibition
- 1991-92 Association of Hawaii Artists Annual Show (1992: Award)
- 1982: Kuhio Federal Building, Honolulu
- 1982: Manoa Gallery, Honolulu
- 1987: Che Pasta, Honolulu
- 1988: A Different Light, Los Angeles
- 1990: Hawaii Maritime Center, Honolulu
- 1990: Life Foundation AIDS Benefit, Honolulu
- 1991: Hula’s, Waikiki, Honolulu
- 1992: Ramsay Galleries, Honolulu
- 1996: Treats, Honolulu
Tours, Lectures, Traveling Shows
- 1987: San Francisco
- 1988: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego
- 1989: San Francisco
- 1990: Boston, New York, Washington D.C.
- 1990: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago
- 1991: Seattle, Chicago
- 1994: Atlanta, New Orleans
- Pidgin to da Max Series, 1981-1986, Honolulu (over 300,000 books in print)
- Hawaii, Paintings and Drawings by Douglas Simonson, GMP Publishers, London, 1986
- Islanders, Paintings and Drawings by Douglas Simonson, Alyson Publications, Boston, 1989
- brush & camera, Paintings, Drawings and Photographs by Douglas Simonson, Douglas Simonson Fine Arts, Honolulu, 2006
- Tropical, Male Nude Photographs, Honolulu, 2011