Anthony Velonis Biography

Anthony Velonis

American

1911-1997

Biography

Anthony Velonis was born on October 23, 1911, in New York.  He studied in the College of Fine Arts at New York University.  In 1934 he began working for the Civilian Work Administration as a poster artist, where Velonis spearheaded the use of silkscreen to print posers.  In 1936 this program was reassigned to the FAP.

 The stimulating environment of the FAP brought new incentive to Velonis.  He conducted experiments that completed the transformation of silkscreen printing from a commercial process to a fine art medium.  In his own work of the period, Velonis experimented with combinations of screen printing and pochoir

The artist authored a pamphlet, Technical Problems of the Artist:  Technique of the Silkscreen Process.  .Distributed to WPA art centers across the country, this booklet contributed greatly to the spread and popularity of the medium in the 1940s.  Velonis also introduced silkscreen to the art-consuming public in an article in the Magazine of Art.

 After being released from the WPA in 1939, he and four colleagues established the Creative Printmakers Group, which shared a screen-printing studio and commissions.  They began by producing their own prints, but it soon became clear that they needed more commercial work to pay the rent.  Soon, they printed several editions for other artists such as Adolf Dehn and Federico Castallano.

Velonis’s works were included in two landmark exhibitions of serigraphs in 1940, held at the Weyhe Gallery in New York and at the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts in Massachusetts.  By this time, however, commercial work had begun to monopolize his time and energy.  In the 1940s he was a member of the National Serigraph Society, but his artistic activity had begun to wane. 

In 1942 Velonis and his business partner Hyman Warsager were drafted into the Air Force. Working first at Lowry Field, the artist designed training aids and recruiting posters; later, at Wright Field, he rendered graphs and statistical charts.

After his discharge, Velonis returned to Creative Printmakers, which had flourished and grown by that time engaging about a hundred employees.  This business demanded so much of him that he found very little time to devote to his own artwork.  Nevertheless, his technical innovations continued during his commercial career, as documented in 1959 by an article in the professional journal Print, which reviewed the latest developments in screen printing.  Retired from a successful business career, Velonis now divides his time between Glen Rock, New Jersey, and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands.

Velonis died in Glen Rock in 1997.

 Biography from David Acton’s A Spectrum of Innovation:  Color in American Printmaking 1890-1960