Douglas Simonson is one of the world’s best-known interpreters of the male figure. His work has been collected over the past 30 years by connoisseurs in 80 countries. Simonson lives and works in Honolulu, in a private studio-gallery overlooking Diamond Head.
Douglas Simonson has been painting for over 40 years. 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 the Hawaiian Islands.
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, soaking up 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 11 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 in 1979, at the age of 29, Simonson put aside his fears and boldly committed himself to drawing and painting the male nude. It was a life-changing decision.
At first he was concerned that focusing only on the male figure might be too limiting, that it might slow his artistic growth. 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.
That was over 30 years ago. Today Simonson is as committed to, and inspired by, the male figure as he was then. In the interim he has shown his art to hundreds of thousands of admirers, been interviewed in dozens of newspapers and magazines and on television and radio, has shown his work in many galleries and prestigious juried shows, 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 reached collectors in 65 countries and on 6 continents.
Thus Simonson was uniquely positioned to benefit from the advent of the World Wide Web. When the artist put his first website online in July 1995, he already had a worldwide following. Now, for the first time, he could reach that following with ease. Also for the first time, Simonson’s collectors and admirers could view his work without sending for slides or printed brochures, and without having to travel to Hawaii!
Simonson’s website at http://www.douglassimonson.com has to date hosted many millions of visitors. It has become Simonson’s major gallery, showcasing thousands of his works, including posters, miniposters, limited-edition prints and photographs, in addition to original drawings and paintings.
Thanks for your interest! If you have questions or comments please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via snailmail at: Douglas Simonson, 1542 Young St., Suite 340, Honolulu, HI 96826, USA. Phone: (808) 737-6275.
- 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