Jon Douglas Arfstrom was born November 11, 1928 in Superior, Wisconsin. His father, Fred Oscar Arfstrom, was born in 1881 in Sweden. His mother, Thyra Westlund, was born in 1882 in Sweden. His parents married in Wisconsin in 1927 and had two children, John (b.1928), and June (b.1931). The mother was a widow from an earlier marriage with five children, Ralph Modene (b.1910), Evelyn Modene (b.1911), Edna Modene (b.1913), Margaret Modene (b.1915), and Bernice Modene (b.1919). The father was a house painter and a calligrapher. The family lived at 1911 Tower Avenue in Superior, WS.
In 1936 his parents separated. The mother and her four youngest children moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota., She supported the family by working as a cook at a delicatessen. The two elder half-sisters worked in a local garment factory, while Jon and his sister June attended public school.
In 1942 during World War II Jon Arfstrom was a thirteen year old school student, so he was not old enough to register for military service.
When Jon Arfstrom was a teenager he spent several summers in Chicago with his older half-brother, Ralph "Bud" Modene, who was a commercial artist.
In 1944 he finished the tenth grade of high school and then entered the work force. He worked on freighters and excursion ships on the Great Lakes.
In 1945 at the age of sixteen, he married his wife, Norma J. Siegford. She was age fifteen. They moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they eventually raised four children, Gayle, Tory, Daryl, and Gary. Jon Arfstrom worked as a clerk at the Minnesota Amusement Company. They lived at 2421 First Avenue in Minneapolis.
In the evenings he attended the Minneapolis School of Art, where he studied with Birney MacNabb Quick (1912-1981).
By 1949 he was illustrating book covers for Fantasy Publications. He went on to draw illustrations for several sci-fi fanzines, such as The Fanscient, Fantasy Advertiser, Scientifantasy, and Space Trails.
During the 1950s Jon Arfstrom illustrated several stories in Weird Tales, and went on to paint several covers for this title. His work also appeared in Mystic Magazine, Other Worlds Science Stories, and Spaceway.
In 1952 he was a staff artist at the Gamble-Skogmo advertising agency.
In 1956 he became a staff artist at Brown & Bigelowe Calendar Company in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1958 Jon Arfstrom enrolled with the Famous Artists School correspondence art course, which was located in Westport, Connecticut. Rudolph Belarsky, Richard Case, and Emery Clarke were art instructors at the school, which was founded in 1956 by Al Dorne (1906-1965), Harold Von Schmidt (1893-1982), and Norman Rockwell.
During the 1970s Jon Arfstrom illustrated religious publications and worked as a commercial artist at a Minneapolis retail store.
During the 1980s he illustrated the fanzines Odyssey, Scientifantasy, and The Fanscient.
In the 1990s Jon Arfstrom illustrated several books for Haffner Press and P.S. Publishing.
In 1994 Jon Arfstrom received the Stoker Award for "Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection" for Robert Bloch's The Early Fears from Fedogun & Bremes.
In 1996, after forty years of working for Brown & Bigelow, he retired, but he never stopped making art. In his final years he concentrated on painting magical landscapes that combined colorful abstract art with Surrealist fantasy.
He was an honored guest at the 2015 Pulp Fest conference in Columbus, Ohio.
Jon Arfstrom died at the age of eighty-seven at his home in Anoka, Minnesota, on December 2, 20015.
© David Saunders 2016