A pioneer, Antoinette Martignoni was the first student to receive the degree of Bachelor of Applied Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, she received a Diploma in Illustration from the Museum School of Industrial Art, now known as the Philadelphia College of Art. As an illustrator for some of the top engineering firms during the 60’s through the 80’s, these firms turned to Antoinette for her unique illustration skills. Before breaking ground on a multimillion dollar commercial structure, investors want to see a rendering of what the completed project will look like.
Antoinette’s uncanny ability was to take blueprints in hand and to see the finished project positioned on a site before the foundations were even laid. This talent led to illustrations beyond traditional two-dimensional drawings: it was as if she could hover between the earth and clouds for a birds-eye view. Antoinette saw the proposed project and also its environment– roads, landscaping, and its place in the natural features or in a complex cityscape.
(left) Illustration for Frederick R. Harris Inc., Consulting Engineers (1977). The engineering firm was proposing a tunnel that would direct traffic under the city! It’s easy to take for granted the realism of Antoinette’s drawing until we remember–Boston’s underground highway did not became a reality until the Big Dig was completed in 2004.
Although illustrating mostly industrial projects, they were never ugly. Antoinette saw beyond the steel and concrete, revealing the hidden beauty.
How was she able to do this?