The first issue of “Sports Illustrated” appeared on newsstands, August 14, 1954, and Don Moss’ first assignment as a free lance artist for “S.I.” came a month later. He painted in many styles across a wide spectrum of sports for a variety of editorial commissions until his final cover, “What’s Wrong With the NFL,” on November 12, 1984.
From an early age, growing up in Melrose, Massachusetts, Don loved challenges, whether it be on a hockey rink or climbing Mount Washington’s steep, unforgiving Huntington Ravine in a 100 mile per hour September sleet storm. His drawing ability went as far back as his love of sports, materializing in high school posters and a scholarship to Vesper George, a (then) noted Boston art school.
After serving in the Marines during World War II, he moved to New York City and honed his art career with “Esquire”, “Collier’s”, “Elks Magazine” and New York’s advertising agencies. His sentimental favorite from his thirty years with “Sports Illustrated” was his first cover — for the Kentucky Derby, May 4, 1964. Dick Gangel, “Sports Illustrated” art director, liked his artist-reporters to experience their assignments. Thus, Don skied the trails he painted from a racer’s point of view, holed out many a putt on famous golf courses after an eight iron shot to the green, photographed tennis players like Jimmy Connors, and had drinks with National Hockey League stars after motor-drive camera shots of their action on ice for a series of acrylics of famous hockey players.
Gangel recognized Don Moss’ interest in a broad range of painting styles from detailed realism to pointillism, from pop art to surreal. These were all represented in the 85-piece retrospective of his work that the National Art Museum of Sport organized in 1996. It was later exhibited at the Society of Illustrators in New York and several New England museums. Today Don Moss and his wife Sally live in Farmington, Connecticut, where he continuous to paint, adding the beautiful Farmington River valley to his subject matter.