SHAG: If you look at my paintings, you’ll see Flora’s influence, as well as that of Deitch, Kimball, and other illustrators. That period of jazz-influenced, minimal, Cubist, wacked-out, avant-garde illustration and animation remains my favorite, and is the base upon which I’ve tried to build my own body of work. Sometimes I paint an object and realize, “Oh no, that’s how Jim Flora would have done it!” That usually requires me to paint over said object and try to do it again more “Shag-like,” whatever that means. Flora did it like nobody else.
DREW FRIEDMAN: The first Flora collection was a revelation and a long-overdue tribute to the twisted, bizarre, joyous genius of an artist who was so damn far ahead of his time. The second book was equally delightful. And now… A THIRD!! It’s too much, my head is exploding! God bless Irwin Chusid & Co.!
CHRIS WARE: Jim Flora’s illustrations have that almost impossible-to-attain quality that work done for commercial consumption rarely has: his drawings and designs are still interesting and lively today, not being rendered moot by forgotten fashion trend, taste, or faded cultural association. On top of this, he was obviously a serious artist who enjoyed doing his work. In other words: he was actually good.
LANE SMITH: Jim Flora was a big influence for me, and I was inspired by the spontaneity and animation in his work. While designing album covers in the early ’80s for groups like The Dickies and Oingo Boingo, I stumbled on Flora’s LP covers. I was excited and depressed at the same time. I realized his stuff was so much more new wave or punk, or whatever, than what me and my peers were attempting. He was fresher, more innovative, and just better. Later when I became a kids’ book illustrator, I found Flora’s books. Though not as animated as his album art, they were, and still are, more exciting than the majority of picture books out there. He was one of a kind.
JOHN CANEMAKER: Exciting eyeball jazz, that was Flora. Simultaneously primitive and modern, a cartoonish blend of Rousseau and Picasso, Miro and Bill Traylor.
TIM BISKUP: “This is going to change the way that I draw,” I said out loud in a record store. I was holding an LP called Shorty Courts The Count. The cover seemed to be moving. The balance of the shapes and colors was so perfect. After a few minutes, my eye made it to the bottom right corner. It said, simply, “Flora.” With a bit of searching, I found it was Jim Flora. I’ve been a huge fan ever since, and my drawings were forever changed for the better.
GENE DEITCH: Jim Flora was one of my very closest friends and my earliest graphic influence. In the 1940s, his stuff just sent me into a buzz, and I was brazenly imitating his style in my work.
JASON LETHCOE: Jim Flora has a special genius all of his own. When I recently discovered his work, it left me wondering where he had been hiding all these years. I find myself gazing for hours at his paintings and emerging both inspired and disturbed. He’s a true original!
PETE DOCTER: Flora’s work features great modernist design and eye-catchingly expressive cartoon characters, and neither loses out to the other. There are not many artists who can do that, and no one did it better than Flora.
BEN SISARIO: Flora’s designs are magically simple distillations of Cubism, Surrealism and cartoon madness, with playful figures and instruments floating in planes of color.
JD KING: Flora took the modernism of painters such as Miro, Klee and Picasso, blended it with a jazz sensibility and added a dollop of the Sunday funnies pages.
GARY BASEMAN: Jim Flora’s surreal images pop off the paper and into the viewer’s subconscious. The album covers he illustrated are visual jazz, very playful and improvisational. They’re very cool.
I got complaints with the Flora stuff. I admire and love him dearly, but the guys out in the field, the salesmen, they found it too sophisticated, not serious enough for their markets. There would be 25 guys in Phoenix that would think: “This is the absolute nuts!” or “Who is this great wild man doing these jazz things?” But 95 percent of the people do not want a big ugly cartoon in their house.
— ROBERT M. JONES, RCA Victor Art Director who assigned dozens of LP and EP cover illustrations to Flora in the 1950s