Industry Profile: Jeremiah Goodman

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It is genuinely difficult to find the words to describe the elegantly exquisite work produced by internationally renowned interior illustrator, Jeremiah Goodman. With a career spanning over seven decades, Jeremiah has seen and worked with some of the most illustrious names in the industry. Revered for his unique painting style, this is a man who has a lifetime of experience to show for his dedication to his art, and at 92, he still has no plans for retirement. With an inimitably rare artistic talent, and an enthusiasm rivalled by none, Jeremiah is an extraordinary artist with a remarkable flair for interior illustration, one which has been recognised by his induction into the interior design hall of fame, and rightly so.

Following his inspirational seminar at Decorex 2013, we caught up with the distinguished Jeremiah to learn more about his extraordinary working life.

Chateau Moton by Jeremiah

What first drew you into the world of interior design illustration?

Oh I can be very precise about that. It was about 1940 when I went to school in New York City...God that's such a long time ago..and I went to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now known as Parsons the New School for Design). I was to be in the advertising class, but they needed someone in the first-year interior class that could draw. Since I was poor and on scholarship and had little say, they threw me into the interior class. Which I began to like. And unnaturally or naturally, I was the best artist in the class. It was a decorating class and most of the girls and guys had never done much drawing. They just thought they would go into decorating class and maybe draw four or five interiors—not knowing that they were going to ask the students to draw perspectives and everything. So I was the perfect fit to be the star of the class. Everyone could get angry with me and try to beat me.

The living room of Tony Duquette by Jeremiah

What would you say is your biggest inspiration? 

The fact that people have the ability to put aside all the dreadfulness that is going on today in this world and still have a quest for serenity and beauty.

If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?

Romantic, evocative-Catholic! I'm Jewish but I would say very Catholic. Which means, God knows what they mean when they say Catholic about things in theater or art. I guess it means it covers all points. Well, I think my style is very dramatic—as if you really wanted to walk into this room and have a very pleasant surprise about the owner's individuality. How does that sound?

Leonard Stanley bedroom by Jeremiah

What is the biggest challenge in your working life?

To create a timeless image that wont date. But having reached the grand old age of 92 I would say it has to be staying awake!

What would you say is your favourite work so far?

In 1957 I bought a former Carriage House in East Hampton and spent almost thirty years of my life remodelling and decorating it. This was amongst the happiest period of my life.  I loved having a houseful of guests at the weekend but was just as content to work on my paintings there alone.

Greta Garbo's New York City living room by Jeremiah

What has been the highlight of your career?

Being acknowledged by my peers has always been important to me but I think being inducted to the interior design hall of fame in 1987 was certainly a milestone.

Busser Howell living room, New York City by Jeremiah

You released your book ‘A Romantic Vision’ in 2011, are there any more works on the horizon?

Absolutely, at the moment I’m working for that brilliant architect and designer Lee Mindel of Shelton, Mindel & Associates, on a series of sketches for a proposed apartment building on Park Avenue, restyling the building. What else am I doing...I just did something for Bruce Weber, the fantastic fashion photographer. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the key artwork for a new Broadway production of the musical Gigi.

David Hicks' Country House living room by Jeremiah

During your seminar at Decorex 2013, you spoke fondly of some of the many renowned figures whom you have worked with. For those who didn’t make the seminar, could you tell us some of your favourites?

Number one would be Billy Baldwin, and then of course Michael Taylor in San Francisco whose work is still classic in its inventiveness in color and restraint, and at the same time opulence. Another would be Ruby Ross Wood. In France I like Henri Samuel. He was a fantastic all-around designer, one of the lead designers of the Rothschild family. And then I would say Renzo Mongiardino—the long standing designer for jewelry designer Elsa Peretti. Plus Giorgio Armani. What's not known to many people is his original objective was to be an architect -- he was very interested in architecture. That's why his colors are so beautifully structured.

Bill Blass New York City bedroom by Jeremiah

What would be your favourite object in your own home?  

It would have to be a paperi machie lobster that the designer Tony Duquette gave me. It’s been gilded. But I have always been entranced with the view from my apartment; I have all of Manhattan before me.

Carlos de Beistegui Paris dining room by Jeremiah

With a career spanning over seven decades, what is your secret to a happy working life?

The eternal goal is to find the secret, that’s the biggest challenge, so I continue on.

If you could have your career again, would you do anything differently?

No, it’s a gamble you can’t tell how the chips will fall…

Villa Feltrinelli, Italy by Jeremiah

As a renowned and respected figure within the industry, what would your advice be for aspiring artists?  

Be honest with your self and your measure of talent; seek out a field that suits your talents. Take it from me, a boy from Buffalo where both sides of the tracks were wrong!

The book, Jeremiah: A Romantic Vision, can be found here