Inspiration (Norman Rockwell)
“I showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed.”

—Norman Rockwell


Norman Rockwell was one of the most prolific and well-known of American artists. During his 47-year career as a painter and illustrator, he depicted people and situations from everyday life. By the time of his death in 1978, his work was familiar to millions of people, and it remains iconic today.

Some of Rockwell's most recognized works include his cover art for the Saturday Evening Post; the “Four Freedoms” series (“Freedom from Want,” “Freedom of Speech,” “Freedom to Worship” and “Freedom from Fear”); “A Problem We All Live With,” showing school integration during the 1960s, and “Triple Self-Portrait,” which is featured on The Foundation for a Better Life's "Inspiration" billboard.

Rockwell was born in 1894. The Great Depression, World War II, The Civil Rights movement, the Space Age—Rockwell lived, and painted, through most of the turbulent 20th century. Even during the most frightening and uncertain moments of that century, Rockwell's work never turned grim or despairing. Instead, the artist retained a focus on the human drama he saw unfolding around him.

Through it all, Rockwell's work conveyed a belief in the goodness of humanity. One example is “Triple Self-Portrait,” where we see the artist (in his 60s at the time of painting) from the back, reflected in a mirror, and in the larger-than-life portrait on the easel. In the mirror we see a man with an aging face, a grizzled moustache, and thick glasses—but he is painting himself as a young, handsome man, ready to take on the world. The viewer gets the sense that this depiction isn't a false one, but that the artist is looking in the mirror and seeing his own best self.

In the same way, Rockwell saw the best in those around him. The “Four Freedoms,” painted during World War II, made it evident that Rockwell also strove to showcase what he saw as the best of American values and ideals. In the midst of a grim conflict, these illustrations were a reminder of the kind of world Americans were working for through their sacrifice and hardship. Deeply concerned with civil rights, equality and the war on poverty, Rockwell incorporated these themes into his later work. Even his paintings that deal with troubling subjects show a resistance to despair and pessimism.

Some critics have drubbed Rockwell's work as sentimental, overly sweet and idealized. This may be because his work seemed to say that the ordinary people he was painting were extraordinary at the core. Yet if what Rockwell painted was idealized, it was because he believed that we, individually and collectively, have the potential to reach that ideal.

"I showed the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed," Rockwell said.

To honor this steadfast depiction of his United States, Rockwell received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for "vivid and affectionate portraits of our country."

Just as Norman Rockwell saw the best in his fellow humans, his work reminds us to see the good in ourselves and each other. With its gentle sense of humor, combined with a mature awareness of the world’s problems, Rockwell’s work reminds us that even the most ordinary individual, when seen through loving eyes, can be cause for hope.

Inspiration. Pass It On!

This billboard about Inspiration features Norman Rockwell (1894-1978); painter, illustrator.

Pass It On®

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Your Comments
Anonymous SEPTEMBER 12, 2018
He's saying that ''saw the best in you that means that someone can't find the master part in you will find it like everyone have thing that they did it very great

Anonymous JANUARY 5, 2018
My mom has a whole book of these

A from Ar SEPTEMBER 1, 2017
He was the best next to Bach

someone from somewhere NOVEMBER 30, 2016
i wish he where here with me right now teaching me his wise ways of the arts

Anonymous NOVEMBER 21, 2016
he will always be my inspiration!!!!!!!!

Anonymous APRIL 14, 2016
I love it

jeff jr. from Jacksonville APRIL 4, 2016
he is so cool i hope people realize his message

Anonymous APRIL 4, 2016
he is so cool

NULL from NULL OCTOBER 7, 2014
This guy is great

Natima from merry land FEBRUARY 28, 2014
i love this guy so much <3<3<3

NOLEN from HARTFORD FEBRUARY 28, 2014
HE IS SO COOL

Eli from south carolina MAY 28, 2013
wow, this is cool

angi a from indianapolis JUNE 27, 2010
I love the Norman Rockwell billboard. Thanks for sharing with us!

Zoe, S from TX APRIL 19, 2010
I love his drawings and one day I hope people will see that he is real great.

Kirthishri M. V. from Bangalore, India NOVEMBER 3, 2009
This site is just like a friend. Try reading when one is depressed, you will feel soothing and better.

Dan from Wisconsin SEPTEMBER 28, 2009
This is such an amazing collection of posters!

Jane D. from South Carolina JANUARY 3, 2009
This is a brilliant picture. Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite artists.

Gary L from Connecticut NOVEMBER 28, 2008
I'm just worried about our friend from the Philippines....difficulties and disappointments seem to be haunting this person. I hope they find consolation here.

Shusnerdescet from Philippines NOVEMBER 11, 2008
Maybe the problem is that I expected it to be easy and learned too late that is extremely challenging. The difficulty of life combined with the disappointment brought by major experience (love, work, friendship) keeps me up or makes me bury my head under the pillow.

John P. from Effort, Pennsylvania USA AUGUST 27, 2008
In this topsey-turvey world where doom and gloom seem to be a recurring theme, it is certainly a breath of fresh air to appreciate the simple good that Rockwell portrayed. These signs have opened up a window on the world and let in a breeze of hope.

Vusubuhle M from Zimbabwe APRIL 1, 2008
Wow! Great fact from that picture the world is what we see it as if we want to see a grey old man so be it... but if you want to see a strong very energetic young man let it be... we have a Ndebele saying that says "KUGUGA OTHANDAYO" meaning you "are as old as you want"... great stuff this is keep it up. I will make it a point to go to see this billboard in real life...

Janet H. from Manhattan Beach, California USA JANUARY 31, 2008
My son has ADD and this poster is very inspirational for him. I printed a copy of the billboard for is room. Great concept. Thank you!

Brenda R. from Lebanon, OR, USA OCTOBER 10, 2007
In a day and age, when we are bombarded with negativity about our public figures, it is wonderful to be reminded that we have to love our fellow man. Love is blind to the faults of others, even in times of unrest and fear. Norman Rockwell did this during such a time. I have this print over my desk to remind me to do the same, and spread the word.

Lady Samm from Toronto, Canada JUNE 19, 2007
It feels like yesterday, my Nanny used to tell me, 'if you see the best in people, the best in people will see you'...She was very wise!

Eke A. from Abuja, Nigeria JUNE 18, 2007
bless you for the work you do

Alan N from Ft. Collins, CO, USA JUNE 18, 2007
I really like your positive approaches that I see in airports and my travels. We point them out to our kids, too. Thanks!

Sheryl S. from Santa Barbara JUNE 18, 2007
I LOVE this!

Alexander from Jerusalem JUNE 18, 2007
That's really great! When it's visual, it's much more powerful, than just words. (Although words are also important). These pictures are a powerful demonstration of what and how each state could look like. Thanks a lot, I really appreciate that!

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