For Allan Comport and Sally Wern, the married founders of design firm, Art at Large, success, excitement, and partnership balance out the scary uncertainty of the commercial illustration industry.
“Sally and I lived and breathed the world of illustration and commercial applied imagery, she as a successful illustrator, and me as an artists’ representative,” Allan explains. “Our business morphed many times over 25 plus years to experience success in editorial, advertising, institutional and publishing work.”
The two met while working at a summer camp in Ohio when Sally was in tenth grade, and Allan was a sophomore in college. Between her sophomore and junior years at Columbus College of Art and Design, they wed. Sally had worked in the illustration industry since before they met, and Allan became passionately interested in the field.
“The idea of using my knowledge of relationships and communications seemed a natural fit to begin handling the sales, marketing and account representative work of the studio,” he says.
Soon, the two started working together, Sally doing freelance, Allan taking care of the business side of things. Over some years, they expanded their studio to include several other illustrators and seven photographers and eventually merged their small company with Shannon Associates in New York, one of the premiere artist agencies in the world. Sally illustrated while Allan represented numerous artists.
In 2005, they split up–professionally, that is. Sally continues to design for and run Art at Large, doing large-scale environmental graphic design. As a full-time MICA prof, Allan is one of the favorites among the illustration seniors who turn to him with their paralyzing fears of jumping out of the nest and plummeting into the real world of illustration. (I just graduated from MICA, with a concentration in illustration.)
“It was great to work closely for many years. We are both still completely committed to art and commerce, and support each other’s creative initiatives every day,” says Sally. Allan says he is proud of the direction his wife’s work is moving in. Each truly has admiration for the other that is almost tangible. They have two children and live in Annapolis.