Howard Koslow, formerly of East Norwich, was an artist and illustrator known for historical accuracy and attention to detail in his design of more than 60 U.S. postage stamps, with subjects ranging from a series on lighthouses to American jazz legend Billie Holiday.
Koslow died Monday at his home in Toms River, New Jersey, the family said. He was 91.
A lifetime member of The Society of Illustrators, his paintings are part of the U.S. Air Force Permanent Collection, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space and National Postal museums, and many private and corporate collections.
Born in Brooklyn, Koslow attended James Madison High School, where he will be honored on their Wall of Distinction later this year. He graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He also studied graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
During his lengthy career, his reputation for accuracy led to commissions from the Air Force, National Park Service, Coast Guard and NASA — for whom he created official paintings of the Apollo 15 mission and the first launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. His first commission was in 1971 for a stamp marking the 10th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, according to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.
Several years ago, Koslow donated his collection of original artwork for the stamps he designed between 1971 and 2013 to the Smithsonian. The material consists mainly of highly developed “roughs” of accepted and unaccepted stamp designs in the form of pencil sketches and acrylic paintings. The final artwork for Koslow’s stamps resides in the Postmaster General’s Collection, according to the postal museum.
Other notable stamps he designed include issues for the bicentennial of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Brooklyn Bridge centennial and jazz singers in the Legends of American Music series. In addition to the series on U.S. lighthouses that first appeared in 1990, he also designed a commemorative stamp featuring artist Jackson Pollock.
“He was outgoing, friendly. He was extremely interesting,” said his daughter, Amy-Jo Willig of Melville. “He was a genuine person.”
He and his wife, Helen, lived in Fresh Meadows, Queens, before moving to East Norwich in the 1950s. There, they raised two children. The couple, who were married for 66 years, loved to travel, especially to Italy, his daughter said.
In 1994, Koslow and his wife moved to Toms River, where he continued to paint and create artworks.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Kathi Meyer of San Diego; a sister, Helene Mandelbaum of Toms River; four grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services were held Thursday at Temple Beth Am Shalom in Lakewood, New Jersey. Burial followed at Mount Ararat Cemetery in Farmingdale. The family will be sitting shiva Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in New Jersey.