Saturday, April 23, 2011

Errol H. R. Etienne - April 28, 1941 - April 22, 2011

I first met Errol Etienne when he had a graphic design studio in Montréal, Québec. My wife was his "mechanical man" and prepared all his camera-ready artwork. He was a profound influence in my attitude towards the graphic arts as he epitomized the complete commercial artist excelling at design, illustration, photography, and typography.
A few pages from "Brown Things" a self promotion book written and illustrated by Errol and screen printed on handmade Japanese paper.

Étienne was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1941, but spent most of his childhood in Québec, Canada. At the age of 27, in 1968, he graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California.
The "Incredible Fuzzy Wonder Book" a small promotional book featuring various moustachioed celebrities including Errol and partner Jim Carpenter produced during his brief Toronto stay.

In the mid-seventies he moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he did business under the name of the "Frog and Bison" "Frog" being a reference to his years in Montréal, Quebec, and "Bison" for a former associate in Montana. At that time Errol also operated a studio/gallery, the "Frog and Swan" with artist/calligrapher Robin Arkell. Errol embodied no-compromise professionalism: "I don't let people make changes in my work because it's so personal. I know production and what the job needs, and the only thing that's important is the end product. How you get to that is the problem because the only standard is that it must be excellent. There is really is no excuse for a mediocre final product."

Errol's career veered off track in the early 1980s due to illness and it wasn’t until after a liver transplant in 1994 that he could return to his craft, but found the need to work differently in a different market. “When I came out there were computers and everything had changed for graphic designers.” So Errol gave up graphic design work and with his wife Jan became a vagabond and worked in a “mobile studio,” a GMC motorhome that took them across the country, painting, meeting with collectors and selling his work at private shows and small town markets.
"The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly."


  1. I just decided to search out Etienne on the Internet because we had bought a few of his works here in Manistee, Michigan at the River Street Gallery (Ray and Lois) several years ago and have been enjoying the paintings (strawberries and peas) ever since. I am sorry to see he passed away last year. I hope many more people will be able to enjoy his work into the future. Be well.

  2. I just saw his work for the first time and posted on my blog. Where can I see more? Thanks.

    1. At South Beach House
      Point Roberts WA.

    2. I have acquired some of his works of art. How do I know it is the same Errol Etienne? My mohter knew him in the 80s.

    3. He love his name so there'll likely be at least one signature and a large outline of an "e"