EMD Artists

Denver & Rio Grande Western GP30s as rendered by Tom Fawell

Post-World War II railroading lost no time in shedding military fatigues and redirecting its energies towards winning new business. North American railroads were investing heavily in new trains, equipment and diesel locomotives and the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors was fully intent on capitalizing. The Illinois-based manufacturer was clearly the preeminent builder of diesel locomotives at thetime, and the company wanted the rail industry and traveling public to beware of that fact. To that end, locomotive artwork was an important component of EMD's overall marketing approach. The builder used in-house art staff as well agency graphic artists / illustrators to create colorful and dynamic artwork that helped generate sales. The artwork was used extensively on posters, product catalogs, pocket calendars, and builder data/spec cards, as well as for trade publication covers

The most notable names among the group of graphic designers were EMD's own Ben Dedeck, Bern Hill and Harry Bockewitz, as well as agency designer Tom Fawell. Each of the graphic specialists possessed a unique style that was visibly evident in their work. Moreover, the trio's artistry often reflected social and economic activity of the specific time period, and all the while depicting the advantages of diesel versus steam-driven power.

Ben Dedeck - (1940s to mid 1950s). The diesel locomotive was still in its infancy, especially in terms of hauling freight, and EMD needed artwork that touted its dominant role. That task often fell to the talented Ben Dedeck who was a strong product illustrator. His artwork helped turn the bulldog-nose of the EMD-built passenger and freight cab into a national icon. He used strong colors and detail to hold the viewers attention, while water-colored backgrounds faded into the distance. Additionally, his imagery helped potential EMD customers envision the character of a future locomotive purchase. It's not surprising that his series of 108 builder / specification cards remain collector items.

Bern Hill - (1950s to 1970s). By the 1950s, EMD was clearly the dominant force among all locomotive builders, which allowed for a more philosophical approach to advertising art. Enter Bern Hill. "Aesthetically innovative and historically important" are words knowledgeable critics have used to describe Hill's railroad illustrations. He created panoramic and birds-eye views that placed the viewer at a distance; his style was at the junction of realism and abstract. Hill's paintings sometimes adorned the cover of Railway Age magazine (1950 to 1956) and on Trains magazine in the early 1970s.

Harry Bockewitz - (dates ?).Unfortunately, very little information regarding Bockewitz was readily available. His time at EMD seems to overlap the period of Bern Hill and Ben Dedeck. He worked with tempera watercolors, and his artwork has garnered value among collectors. item.

Tom Fawell (Mid 1960s to late 1970s) The railroad artistry of Tom Fawell is worth far more than a thousand words. Using vibrant color and a dark mood, he crafted dynamic scenes that captured the speed, power and drama of EMD-built locomotives at work. Fawell once described his initial meeting with EMD managers, In fact they laughed at my work - It has no wheels, the sky is too rough, the train looks like its going to fall over. Fawell's unique artistic style none-the-less proved highly successful for the locomotive builder, and evolved into a long-term collaboration.

SLSW F7s w/ Freight

Southern Pacific Railroad's popular "Black Widow" attire from the late 1940s/ early 1950s was its best when applied to the bulldog nose of EMD-cab units. Ben Dedeck showcases a F7 freight-hauler set in classic A/B/B/A configuration rolling across the grasslands of eastern Texas with subsidiary St.Louis-Southwestern #925 on the point. (Internet photo)

MKT E7A Passenger Units

After investing heavily in equipment during the late 1940s and 50s, railroads were delighted to showcase their newest sleek, light-weight passenger trains. The Texas Special depicted here by Ben Dedeck was jointly operated the Katy (MKT) and Frisco (SLSF). It entered service between St. Louis, Missouri and San Antonio, Texas in 1948. (Ralph Back collection)


General Motors Electro Motive Division, La Grange Illinois, produced 7.5 x 3.25 collector spec cards during the 1940s and early-1950s for its F-series locomotives. The cards have a beautiful water-color print showing the exact colors and styling used on a particular railroads locomotive drawn by EMD staff artist Ben Dedek.

The back of the spec card tells you everything you would want to know about the pictured unit. (Ralph Back collection & text)

Railway Age Cover Art

General Motors, the consumate marketer, often purchased the cover space of Railway Age magazine to announce recent new locomotive buyers, such as the Atlanta & West Point. (Detroit Public Library Archive)

Pennys FP7s w/ Passnger Train

When it came time to introduce the newest four-axle steam-generator equipped F-Unit, EMD chose the cover of Railway Age to showcase a recent purchase by the Pennsylvania RR. (Detroit Public Library Archive)


Trains Magazine Covers

Bern Hill's artwork graced Trains covers annually during: June 72, May 73, April 74 and April 75. This depiction of a Minneapolis & St. Louis freight appeared December 1971. (Trains Magazine Archive)

WP F3s w/ Silver Lady

Here is another of Bern Hill's drawings that appeared on the cover of Trains Magazine. This one depicts the California Zephyr snaking through the Rocky Mountains. (Trains Magazine Archive)

DRGW F7s w/ Passenger Train

A trio of four-axle Denver & Rio Grande Western F7s roll through Colorado's Royal Gorge in this Bern Hill depiction from the early 1970s. (Detroit Public Library Archive)

GN F3s w/ Streamliner

Bern Hill's canvas possibly portrays Great Northern's "Empire Builder" rolling gracefully through Marshall Canyon in Eastern Washington state (Detroit Public Library Archive)

NP F9s (Railway Age Ad)

This rendering of three EMD-built F9s is a departure from Bern Hill's typical artistic style. His work had been questioned at times because there was too little emphasis on the locomotive; it can be compared to examples immediately above. The F9s advertisement also appeared in Trains in black & white. (Streamliner Memories Website)

M&StL FTs w/ Freight

Too few color photographs exist of the Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad's small fleet of FTAs (four A-Units) & FTSBs (two B-units) built during the final year of WWII. This Harry Bockewitz artwork of FTA/B/A #445 rolling across agricultural farmland in the midwest is a worthwhile substitute and reminder. (Streamliner Memories Website)

C&O GP30s w/Freight

Chesapeake & Ohio's 48 new EMD GP30s arrived during 1962/63. Tom Fawell's rendering places several of the newcomers in an industrial setting to reflect the model's multiple uses. (Trains Magazine Archives)

SOO GP30 w/Freight

SOO Line purchased 22 EMD-built GP30s in 1962; they sported the company's new look. Tom Fawell artistically shows three of them high above the St. Croix River. (Deane Motis collection)

SAL SDP35s w/ Train

This Tom Fawell depiction has a pair of new six-axle EMDs leading the northbound and southbound sections of the railroad's famous Silver Meteor passenger train. (Deane Motis collection)

NP SD45s w/ Freight

The artistry of Tom Fawell has a trio of Northern Pacific SD45s with a high-priority freight conquering the Rocky mountains. (Ralph Back collection)

F59PH Passenger Power

Fast forwarding to the early 1990s, EMD advertising art takes on a much more contemporary look which reflects the aerodynamic-sculpturng, swept-back stylings of the company's newest passenger power. (Graphic illustrator unknown / Art Peterson collection)


  • "Tom Fawell | Visionary Electro-Motive Diesel Advertising Artist" by Travis Dewitz
  • TrainOrders.com website forum (Deane Motis)
  • Ralph Back's EMD Builder Card collection.
  • Streamlimer Memories.com website
  • AskArt.com website

  • New: 1 January 2023

    Fawell Brought The New GP30 To Life

    (Ralph Back Collection)

    Fawell's Depiction of EMDs New 645-Driven Locomotives

    (Ralph Back Collection)