Harry Thomas Fisk was born on May 4, 1887 in Portsmouth, Ohio. His father, Frank Fisk, was a house painter, and his grandfather, Allen Fisk, was also a house painter. His mother was Nettie Yates of Indiana. They had five children, but only three survived. All three were sons and he was the youngest.
In 1890 when his father was hired as the Foreman Painter for the St. Louis & Kansas City Rail Road the family moved to Toledo Ohio and lived at 213 Jervis Street.
By 1900 the family had moved to 5 Meredith Street in Frankfort, Indiana, where his father and his older brother were both employed as rail road painters. His oldest brother had left home to serve in the U.S. Infantry.
After he finished schooling he began to work in his family trade as a painter, but his inspired personality and natural drawing talent suggested a more creative future. With the encouragement of a local art teacher he decided to pursue a career as a commercial illustrator.
In 1910 at the age of twenty-two he moved to New York City to work as a designer at The Fancy & Decorative Company. He studied at the Art Students League, and he lived in a lodging house at 202 East 18th Street, where he befriended a young bank-clerk named Stockton Mulford, who was grappling at that time with frustrated desires to study art and pursue his own career as a freelance illustrator.
Harry T. Fisk soon found work drawing interior story illustrations for People's Home Journal, The Housewife, and Every Week. In 1916 his biggest break came when his work appeared on the June 10th cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
During the Great World War he served in France with Battery A and Headquarters Company 306 Field Artillery 77th Division. He was wounded just above the left knee by shrapnel from an exploding shell.
After the war he returned to New York City and resumed his career as a freelance magazine illustrator. He opened his own art studio at 854 West 181st in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan. John Coughlin and Paul Stahr also had art studios in this same area, which at that time had begun to replace Greenwich Village as New York City's most popular "artist colony."
His father had died, so his sixty-three-year-old widowed mother came to live with him. He rented a modest apartment at 3004 Heath Avenue in the Bronx, which is a short trolley ride up the Broadway Bridge from his studio. His friend Stockton Mulford also lived in that same Bronx apartment building, with his wife and three children.
Harry T. Fisk produced interior story illustrations for The American Legion Monthly, Boy's Life, Everybody's Magazine, Farm Life, Liberty Magazine, People's Magazine, Popular Science, and Outdoor Stories.
He also worked for pulp magazines, such as Argosy All-Story Weekly, Battle Stories, Clues Detective Stories, Complete Stories, Complete Story Magazine, The Golden West Magazine, The Popular Magazine, Over The Top, and Top-Notch.
In 1933 he moved to a modern apartment building, called London Terrace, at 329 West 22nd Street in Manhattan, and his celebrity was such that he was featured in an endorsement real estate ad for the building.
On April 25, 1942 he reported for his draft registration at the age of fifty-four. He was recorded to be five-nine and 150 pounds, with blue eyes, blonde hair, and a shell wound on his left leg. His oldest brother was listed as his closest relative, and he lived only one block away.
In the 1950s he painted playfully decorative and colorfully appealing impressionist paintings that were shown at the Arthur Newton Gallery in NYC. He was President of the Artist's Guild, Inc., and he was also an active member of the National Arts Club and the Salmagundi Club, where a gala exhibition of his paintings on the history of the frigate Constellation were shown in 1962 as a benefit to raise scholarship funds.
He never married and he had no children.
Harry T. Fisk died in his 22nd Street apartment in New York City at the age of eighty-six on March 12, 1974.
© David Saunders 2009