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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Jack Davis & Sesame Street

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Sesame Street?

We 1970s kids all knew the way;  just turn the dial (yes dial) on the television to PBS (or CBC here in Canada) and there you'd find Ernie and Bert, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and all your other Children's Television Workshop friends!

Little did this '70s kid realize that as I was watching Sesame Street (in black & white, by the way - we were the last family in our neighbourhood to get a colour tv, I swear!), the amazing Jack Davis was drawing all the muppet - and human - denizens of the Street!

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Only years later, when I was all grown up and admiring Davis' work as a student of the art of cartooning did I realize who was responsible for these amazing Street scenes.  Enjoy!

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 * Thanks to my old art school pal Rich Hockney for rescuing these posters and passing them along to me!

* More Jack Davis art on the Muppets Wiki - including "Reality Street" and "Mafia street" from Mad magazine!

Jack Davis "Doing Time"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yesterday we learned how the amazing Jack Davis earned the title, "fastest draw in the East or the West." Today, again thanks to the generosity of Bill Peckmann, we'll see a dozen examples of Davis' legendary speed and prowess. Keep in mind that, just as with yesterday's Time magazine cover, Davis might have done as many as 15 pencil concept sketches before executing the final illustration for any one of these covers!

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In his April '77 American Artist magazine article on Jack Davis' work for Time, writer Nick Meglin explains how Davis would come home to Westchester County from his meeting with Time's editors in New York, an approved sketch and related reference materials under his arm.  This would usually be on a Wednesday afternoon.  Davis would immediately begin working on the final, often staying at his drawing table until 11 p.m.

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By 11 a.m. the next morning Davis would already be back in New York, the finished art delivered, and Davis awaiting approval or changes.  He always came prepared with an envelope containing a pencil, ink, watercolour paints and brushes, and an electric eraser in case last minute changes were requested.

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Meglin explains that Davis liked to work on heavy Strathmore kid-finish illustration board.  He found the surface could tolerate large areas of colour being erased and reworked.

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Davis said, "I don't think I'll ever not be impressed that my work appears on the cover of a magazine like Time."  Compared to the usual scenario, where he would do his work and it would be months before it was finally printed, Time offered the added bonus of fast turn around.  "With Time," Davis commented, "it's like 'instant satisfaction.'  You deliver it Thursday and see it again Monday."

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 * Many thanks to Bill Peckmann, who provided all of today's scans and Nick Meglin's article from American Artist magazine!

Jack Davis "Just-in-Time"

Monday, August 29, 2011


The April 1977 issue of American Artist magazine includes an article by Nick Meglin in which he describes exactly why legendary cartoonist Jack Davis will never yield the title of "fastest draw in the East or West" to any challenger.  To demonstrate this claim, Meglin provides a series of roughs Davis prepared for the October 1974 cover of Time magazine.

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Meglin tells us that not only would Jack davis often be called later in the week, when Time's editors had for one reason or another decided to change track on a cover story, but even on this abbreviated schedule Davis would typically begin by providing the editors with as many as 15 rough concept sketches!

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Davis would execute these concepts on a special pad Time provided to its cover artists (as you can see in these examples) pre-printed with a red border and black TIME logo at the same size as the actual magazine.

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Once Davis received approval, the execution of the finished illustration would typically take him less than 24 hours.  He would then deliver the artwork in person to Time's downtown New York offices.  Remarkably, in the case of this particular cover, the concept was changed yet again, even after the artork had been completed -- and the amazing Jack Davis, "fastest draw in the East or West" began and finished another entirely new cover in just three hours in the client's office!

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 * Many thanks to Bill Peckmann, who provided all of today's scans!

Barron Storey's Automotive Art

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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 * Thanks to Harold Henriksen for sharing these wonderful scans with us!

 * Listen to Thomas James' interview with Barron Storey on the Escape from Illustration Island podcast, Episode 56

 * Barron Storey's website: barronstorey.com

Barron's Motorcycle Story

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Excerpt from Thomas James' podcast interview with Barron Storey:

"The motorcycle thing was something I never even thought of as a potential illustration market. It seemed sort of 'beneath me' to play up my teenage motorcycle fetish. All the illustrators I admired were doing much more ambitious things."
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"I lived across the hall from a wonderful young friend who was assistant art director at Car and Driver magazine. He knew about my motorcycle thing. He said, "We're thinking about doing an article on motorcycles... why don't you do some samples... maybe you could get that job."

And I just scoffed at the idea, you know, I am just not that kind of an illustrator. I'm not going to do 'buff' illustrations, I'm going to do serious things. And he said, "you don't know anything about serious things, you know about motorcycles. So do the damn samples!"

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"And, um, you know... I was reluctant... but I did 'em. The irony is that the terrific art director they had at Car and Driver just didn't like my work at all. But for once in my life I knew something I did was great... and it didn't matter to me that it had been rejected... for once in my life I felt so good about something I had created that I was ready to go to bat for it - to do the work to get it printed."

Hear the entire interview at Escape From Illustration Island, Episode 56

* Thanks to Harold Henriksen for providing today's scans!

27 Cats by Barron Storey

Monday, August 22, 2011

Storey03 Storey07 Storey06 Storey05 Storey04 * Many thanks to Harold Henriksen for sharing these wonderful images with us! * Thomas James interviewed Barron Storey in Episode 56 of the Escape from Illustration Island Podcast

James Hill and "the ability to work with, rather than for, an art director"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From the March 1978 issue of Creativity magazine Hill27 Hill25 Hill26 Hill31 (Above and below: James Hill shares page space in various 1950s volumes of the New York Art Directors Annuals) Hill32 Hill33 Hill24 Hill10.JPG Hill09.JPG Hill22 Hill11.JPG Hill21 Hill30 Hill23 Hill29 Hill20 Hill04.JPG
 

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