Jim Bonner: Artist, Graphic Designer
by Bonnie Hogan – 1998
The Bonner Collection. What is it?
Jim Bonner is good. The walls of his small gallery are rich with the reflections of our area. A pelican lover, I was astounded by the realism of the many images of this fascinating pouched bird. The name, style and skill of the artist cannot help but conjure up a comparison to John James Audubon, who died almost a century before Jim Bonner was born.
Obviously a multifaceted artist, Bonner paints and carves duck decoys and is equally proficient in oil and watercolor. He is self-effacing in the extreme and while very cordial and affable, is reluctant to say much about himself. He did agree to give me some brochures and loaned me an issue of the world's leading graphics and photography periodical, “Communications Arts,” which carried a feature about him.
Browsing through the material he has produced through the years is tantamount to a graphics design tour of New Orleans. The eye catcher is a row of Barq's drinks. Bonner designed the familiar can. Also pictured are brochure covers and logos for the Audubon Zoo, the History of the New Orleans Country Club, Beau Chene, the New Orleans Jazz, the Hermann-Grima House, the Superdome, Kentwood Water, Brennan's, New Orleans Tours, Evans Candy, the city of Lafayette, and many, many others. There are portraits of Edwin Edwards, Dave Treen and Ernest Morial and annual reports of First Commerce Corporation, First National Bank of Commerce of New Orleans, Bisso Towboat Co. and McDermott International. "The Whitney", the venerable Whitney National Bank, has been commended by the American Bankers Bank Marketing Association for its superior advertising, some of which was created by Jim Bonner.
His awards are numerous, coming from the Art Directors & Designers Association, the New Orleans Ad Club, the New York Creativity Annual Shows, the International Typographic Association, Creative Printers of America, the Printing Industry of America and others.
Bonner was born and reared in Meridan and is a graduate of Southern Mississippi University. He also maintains a studio in New Orleans, where he and his wife Patsy live Monday through Thursday. They owned a home in Waveland for ten years before building in Pass Christian in 1985.