Donald Featherstone (artist)
January 25, 1936|
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||June 22, 2015
|Notable work||Plastic flamingo|
|Awards||Ig Nobel – Art Prize
1996 Plastic flamingo
Donald "Don" Featherstone (January 25, 1936 – June 22, 2015) was an American artist most widely known for his 1957 creation of the Plastic Pink Flamingo while working for Union Products. Featherstone resided in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where he kept 57 plastic flamingos on his front lawn. Featherstone and his wife Nancy dressed alike for over 35 years.
Featherstone was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936 and grew up in nearby Berlin. After graduating from the Worcester Art Museum's art school, in 1957, he was offered a job designing three-dimensional animals for Union Products, Inc. Over his years at Union Products, Featherstone sculpted over 750 different items, the first of which were a girl with a water can and a boy with a dog. When Featherstone was asked in 1957 to sculpt a duck, he purchased one, which he named Charlie, and later released the bird in Coggshall Park. Later that year he was asked to carve a flamingo. The now iconic pink flamingo went on sale in 1958, when the color pink was popular.
In 1996, Featherstone was awarded the 1996 Ig Nobel Art Prize for his creation of the Pink Flamingo, and he also began his tenure as president of Union Products which he held until he retired in 2000.
Featherstone based his creation on photographs of flamingos from National Geographic, as he was not able to obtain real flamingos to use as models. As time went on the plastic flamingo became more and more popular. It appeared across the country and even as parts of various art exhibits. In 1987, Donald Featherstone inscribed his signature in the original plastic mold. This was apparently to help distinguish between original and "knock-off" Pink Plastic Flamingos. Featherstone's signature stayed on the bird until 2001 when it was removed. The signature was quickly replaced due to a small boycott of the unsigned birds.
In November 2006, Union Products closed and production of the flamingo stopped. Shortly thereafter, a New York company purchased the molds for Featherstone's flamingos and sub-contracted production to a Fitchburg, Massachusetts company, Cado Products. In 2010, Cado Products (cadocompany.com) purchased the copyrights and plastic molds for the Pink Flamingos and continues to manufacture them. They are generally sold in sets of two—one holding its head erect, nearly three feet (0.91 m) high, the other bending over as if looking for food.
- "Improbable Research". improbable.com. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- Featherstone, D. and Herzing, T., The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass, Schiffer Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-7643-0963-3
- Beaudoin, Diane (2007). "Pretty in Pink?: Flamingos give color to Leominster". Leominster Champion. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Collins, Clayton (2006). "Backstory: Extinction of an American icon?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2008-04-23. Published: November 2, 2006.
- "Original pink flamingo lawn ornament being reborn.". USA Today. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2009-05-04. Updated June 1, 2007.
- "Don Featherstone, creator of pink flamingo lawn ornament, dies at 79". Sentinel & Enterprise. Sentinel & Enterprise.
- Marquard, Bryan (June 22, 2015). "Donald Featherstone, plastic pink flamingo creator, dies at 79". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
- Price, Jenny (2006-11-17). "In the Pink No More". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23., November 17, 2006
- "Retro pink flamingos to hatch in New York". MSNBC. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-23. Published: May 31, 2007.