Collins, Kreigh

1908 – 1974
Born in 1908, Kreigh Taylor Collins grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was encouraged by his parents to pursue his love of drawing. He became inspired after viewing an exhibit of landscapes at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, and decided to leave high school to study art at the Cincinatti Art Academy, only to leave school once more in 1927 to begin his career as an artist.

In the late 1920s, Collins befriended Grand Rapid's most well-known artist, Mathias Alten. Collins accompanied Alten on a trip to Europe. Alten, as well as this trip to Europe, greatly influenced Collins and his artwork. One afternoon, Collins was painting alone the Seine River, when an older man began looking over his shoulder and correcting Collins' work. Collins turned around and said, "Look here, I'm painting this picture, you go paint yours." This man turned out to be Augustus E. John, famed British portraitist. 

Upon returning to Grand Rapids in 1931 from Europe and a brief stint in Chicago, the Great Depression had stripped Collins of most commissions, and he was barely able to make a sustainable living. He made money by selling brochures for Old Kent Bank, which he illustrated. In 1933, he held an exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Gallery, which was the only one-man exhibit that Collins would conduct in his lifetime. 

Collins illustrated an historical book entitled "Do You Know?" in 1936-1937 for Michigan's centennial, created illustrations for a Grand Rapids publishing firm, Fideler Company, and was published in the Grand Rapids Press and Herald. He found brief employment through the WPA in the late 1930s creating landscapes and portraits. In the 1940s through 1972, Collins created comics for newspapers, including Mitzi McCoy, Kevin the Bold, and Up Anchor. Collins attributes the eclectic nature of his career to the fact that he "[is] not an endowed institution and we all love to eat."

Kreigh Collins did not experience a significant amount recognition, despite his talent and prolificacy. Like his peer. Reynold Weidenaar, Collins never bowed to the weight of modern art and abstractionism; he remained faithful to representational, realist art throughout his life. He died in 1974.