Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hall of Fame 5

Andy Warhol



Andy Warhol painted a series of Coca-Cola paintings in 1960. He worked in a succession of approaches, starting with Abstract Expressionist and ending with a clean, graphic style that looked more like an illustration than a painting. He showed the series to four friends from the art world. They all preferred the final approach. The rest is pop culture history.

Artist, illustrator, filmmaker, entrepreneur Andy Warhol became an icon just like the subjects of his paintings—Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Mao Zhe Dong—before his death. But his earlier connection to the New York advertising and design community bears recognition for the immense body of work he contributed to the industry as well as its direct effect on his later work.

Forties America was psychologically grim. The country had just recovered from the Depression. The Second World War had brought the cruel outside world to the hearts and minds of isolationist-minded Americans. The average man worried about protecting his at-home interests—money, property and manners—from Fascists, Communists, and atomic bombs. Compromise was his best psychological defense; keeping up with the Joneses' was the standing rule. In this atmosphere of conformity, Warhol enrolled in the Pictorial Design program at Pittsburgh's Carnegie-Mellon Institute of Technology's Department of Painting and Design.

Twice a year, he and fellow art student Philip Pearlstein went museum and gallery hopping in New York. When they graduated in 1949, Pearlstein and his wife Dorothy Kantor moved with Warhol to join the burgeoning Manhattan art world. The Beat movement was there, slamming the mentally lethargic, decadent attitude of the middle class. Artists and writers were out to alter the public consciousness. New York was also the home of breakthrough creativity in the commercial arts industry. Madison Avenue was the advertising and editorial hub of the world. It was the perfect place for an illustrator to make a living.

Another of Warhol's classmates had also moved to New York. But his aspirations directed him to mldtown. George Klauber went to work as a special assistant to Will Burtin at Fortune magazine. He helped establish Warhol’s illustration career by giving him some of his first commissions.

As Pearlstein recounted:

"Well, Andy was immediately employable. I was a very uncertain thing—my portfolio was one of those elaborately worked out, intellectualized things about the US Constitution (2B), and unfortunately, I hit New York in the beginning of the McCarthy era, and as soon as I walked in and somebody saw it, they immediately assumed I was some sort of political kook ... Andy went right to the heart of the matter, he knew—that's what I mean by he was immediately employable; he was only interested in illustration, and they were very direct."

Warhol's work may have been highly accessible, but his experiences were no different from other aspiring New York arrivals. He gained street smarts quickly. "I got one job, and then I would have to do it at night and then spend all day looking:' he recalled. "You carry your portfolio and after doing it for a couple of years you learn that if you come five minutes before twelve o'clock, that was the best time to come, because if they tell you to get there at nine, you would just sit around until five minutes to twelve and they wouldn't see you, so the best time was always—well, most of the people ate in the art department—usually at lunch time, so you could always see them at twelve o'clock."

Glamour magazine's Tina Fredericks hired Warhol to illustrate an article entitled "Success is a Job in New York." It was coming true for Warhol. His drawings appeared on record covers, books, Christmas cards, ads, and TV work for CBS's Lou Dorfsman. In 1951, he won his first ADC Award for a CBS record illustration.

The next year, his mother moved in with him. She contributed her distinctive handwriting to his illustrations and drawings. (Mrs. Warhola received an ADC certificate in 1958 inscribed "to Andy Warhol's Mother" for her calligraphic style.) His client roster grew to include NBC, Harper’s Bazaar and Dobeckmun. Ironically, he was also commissioned to illustrate the Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette that year. Warhol also had his first New York exhibition-a series of drawings based on the writings of Truman Capote at the Hugo Gallery. He began a series of drawing portfolios and artist's books between commercial assignments, including Love Is A Pink Cake and 25 Cats Named Sam and One Blue Pussy with text contributed by Ralph T. Ward.

In 1955, I. Miller decided to recreate their image. The plan was to use repetition in order to drive home the visual message. Fashion editor Geraldine Stutz, advertising director Marvin Davis, and art director Peter Palazzo concentrated the placement of their strategy by running it only in national fashion magazines, the Sunday Times and the Herald Tribune. They hired Warhol because of the distinctive nature of his drawings and his ability to create repetitive themes. Palazzo noted:

"I would draw it out the way I would think it would be a decent composition, or I'd crop it and he'd finish it...he went home with the shoes and that was totally his own. I would not tell him how to draw there, because he usually did something nice on his own … Andy was very easy in that sense; he just felt it was his bread and butter."

Shoes also appeared in his fine art work, especially in A la Recherche du Shoe Perdu, a 1955 portfolio with verses by Ralph Pomeroy.

Warhol traveled to Japan, Southeast Asia, Italy and Holland in 1956 and had two exhibitions at the Bodley Gallery. The work for I. Miller, Harper's Bazaar, and Noonday Press won him additional ADC awards. His illustration business had grown so large that he formed Andy Warhol Enterprises, Inc. in 1957, and hired a few assistants.

He started making use of rubber stamps and other reproductive devices specifically to speed up production. Then iconographic images began infiltrating his work. A 1959 Tiffany assignment was a glimpse into his future: the illustration included a Coca-Cola bottle.

In 1975, Warhol said: "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are good, Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it.”

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 1994.

Hall of fame 4

Massimo Vignelli



Born in Milano in 1931, he studied architecture there and in Venice, and since then has worked with his wife Leila, an architect, in the field of design—from graphics to products, from furniture to interiors.

Based in New York since 1965, their work has been exhibited throughout the world and is in the permanent collections of several museums.

Massimo Vignelli has taught and lectured on design in major cities and universities in the USA and abroad. Among their many awards: the 1973 Industrial Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects, and an honorary doctorate from the Parsons School of Design, NY. Following is an excerpt, written by Emilio Ambasz, from the introduction of the catalogue of the exhibition at the Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy, 1980.

“For years since 1964, they have been the ambassadors of European design; specifically, the standard-bearers of a Mediterranean brand of Swiss graphic design made more agile and graceful by the traditional Italian flair for absorbing and re-elaborating foreign influence. Almost single-handedly Massimo introduced and imposed Helvetica typeface throughout the vast two-dimensional landscape of corporate America.

His graphic design was always distinct and elegant and, if it is true that as time passed by it began to lose its crisp profile, this was due, in great part, to his having generously taught a whole generation of American designers how to evaluate, organize, and display visual information. By giving away his lucidly elaborated formulas he had allowed them to reproduce his image until it became so omnipresent that it began to become transparent.

There are great comforts in accepting the rewards of having developed an ineffable technique. And in America's Eden, there are even greater rewards for such technical virtuosity, provided the exercises take you nowhere. It is to the Vignellis' credit that they did not accept this situation. They have been searching for ways out of such deadening comforts. Admittedly, their probes were at first cautious, but theirs is not blind courage, but the lucid sort which presses ahead while fully aware of the risks awaiting. At a crossroads in their careers they valiantly march on. With one hand they hold onto the luminous treasures of their past experiences, while with the other they seek, sense, and try for the unknown, hoping for that which daring and risking may bring about.

Flashes of randomness have begun to appear in their work. An invitation to a New York showing of their work was sent to all their friends in the form of a crumpled piece of tissue paper. The paper's color was très chic and the typeface of the most accurate elegance, but the controlled passion that crumpled piece of paper denoted could not be disguised behind its carefully rehearsed throw-away elegance. Massimo and Lella, the professionals par excellence, are now undergoing a subtle but deep transformation. The hand which once followed carefully laid-out patterns has still kept its elegant demeanor, but the gesture is now looser and more openly passionate. Although still tempered by a great amount of self-control, the quest is now after the sheer, inebriating pleasure of questing. Rather than presenting answers in careful doses, it is slowly becoming evident that, in the last period, the designers have been posing questions.

A similar pattern of progress may be observed in their other fields of design endeavor. In the case of furniture design, because of the nature of the production-distribution cycle, the emotional gesture must be a more measured one. It is not, after all, a throw-away item such as a piece of printed paper. But they have traveled from the carefully constructed structural feeling of the seating line "Saratoga" to a more humble acceptance of craftsmanship and manual uncertainty, substituting the round formality and warm textures of the "Acorn" chair for Saratoga's precise geometry and immaculate skin. Thus again, the contingent is accepted and the unique instance tolerated, even welcomed. Wood and leather are chosen as instances of nature, and held together in ways that enhance their physicality. Gradually, the chimera of an eternal system crumbles, or at least lets its internal cracks come up to the surface. A readier acceptance of the temporary, of the accidental, of the one-of-a-kind, seems to emerge from this crisis, an acceptance which is all the more laudable if we perceive the existential turmoil these very gifted designers seem to be undergoing. I feel they are entering into a new, even more productive phase. With this exhibition they are taking inventory and evaluating the stock, populating the house they have built in foreign lands.”

- Emilio Ambasz

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 1982.

Hall of fame 2



The Depression had a firm grip on Chicago in 1935. But this didn't deter Leo Burnett from mortgaging his home and borrowing on his life insurance in a $25,000 gamble despite the fact that he had a wife and children to feed. And when he put a bowl of red delicious apples out on the reception desk to greet visitors to his eight-man office the odds had it on the street that he wouldn't last out the year. Three clients came and stayed for more than a decade because they believed in Leo Burnett's goal: to create advertising "that talked turkey to the majority of Americans."

Years later, David Ogilvy commented on Leo Burnett's statement: "I wonder if he realized that his kind of advertising could also talk turkey to the majority of people in every other country!"

Born in St. Johns, Michigan, Leo Burnett showed early interest in art, designing and illustrating posters for his high school football team and for his university's opera and theatre productions. After graduation from the University of Michigan he found himself working as a full-time journalist for the Peoria Journal. He had already gained a lot of experience as editor of a number of campus newspapers and magazines. After covering corrupt municipal politics and murder trials without a byline for $18 a week, Burnett was finally rewarded in 1915 with both a byline and a new biweekly column on railroads which ran for three months: "Right of Way, a Column About Railroads and Those Who Run Them. "

But he realized that the railroad was not America's future: it was the automobile. His own paper's auto column had grown to a full section, and an old classmate of his had gotten a job as house organ editor for the Packard Motor Company. Enlisting the aid of his favorite English professor Dr. Fred Newton Scott, Burnett landed a job starting a House Organ for the Cadillac Motor Company in Detroit. This was after a skeptical first interview and the test assignment of writing a "bromide" about the importance of cleanliness in selling automobiles, and waiting two months for a reply and a final interview.

Cadillac was where Burnett got his first taste of the advertising world. There he met Theodore F. MacManus, the creator of Cadillac's million plus print ad "The Penalty of Leadership." As a part of his editorial duties, he covered publicity for Cadillac at the New York and Chicago auto shows. Burnett's publicity and contact work earned him the position of advertising head for the company within a couple of years. While he was in Detroit, he met and married his wife of over fifty years Naomi, who stood by his side from that point on. (She even helped him practice semi-four while on their honeymoon before he left for active service.)

A year after World War I, Leo Burnett became the advertising manager for the newly formed LaFayette Motor Company located in Indianapolis. The car was designed to compete with the Cadillac and Rolls Royce in luxury and price. (Leo and Naomi, however, were driving a Ford sedan with a self-starter. They did manage to test drive an experimental LaFayette, which caught fire the second day they had it out.)

Leo's first project for the company was to find an ad agency to handle this elite market. After gleaning through the Saturday Evening Post for the best campaigns he could find, he picked the Chicago-based Erwin, Wasey and Company.

Burnett went to Chicago one Saturday morning to call on them. "I discovered that, even in those days, some offices were closed on Saturdays—at least this one was."

Sitting in an unlit reception room, he hailed a mailroom clerk to ask if Mr. Erwin was in. Neither Erwin nor Wasey were in on Saturdays.

Only one person was available to speak to him: the copy chief Art Kudner who was sitting in front of his typewriter in his shirtsleeves. He was writing a Goodyear tire ad in his tiny office. Burnett asked him if the agency would be interested in handling the LaFayette Motor business. Of course, Kudner's answer was affirmative. So, Burnett told them it was theirs: a transaction that took all of five informal, unannounced minutes.

The ad campaign was simple: familiar road sights executed as line drawings with a quick run of clean copy. They only ran 200 lines deep in the newspapers, but even the dealers remarked how effective they were.

Unfortunately, the $7000 price tag per car was a little steep for the 1920s buying market and only 700 cars were sold. The company decided to reduce expenses by moving to the smaller town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Prices for labor and material prices were soaring nationwide, and belts were tightening on luxury spending. The car had come on the market right in the midst of a serious recession and couldn't survive after sales plummeted in 1924.

Burnett had purchased $2000 worth of LaFayette stock when he joined the company—paying partly in cash and partly in a bank loan. When LaFayette failed, he had to pay off the bank loan, despite the fact he was without a job, had a new baby son and a wife to support.

He joined the Indianapolis agency Homer McKee, where he wrote and laid out his own ads. His accounts were the Marmon, Stutz, and Peerless automobiles.

In 1930, things started to go bad with these accounts. So Burnett contacted Art Kudner and ended up taking a standing offer: working at Erwin, Wasey in Chicago for the next five years.

The Burnett agency landed one of its biggest early clients in 1942 when Leo cold-called the Santa Fe Railroad after hearing that they were reviewing the account amongst thirty-four contenders: Burnett was the thirty-fifth. He sent his best writer Jack O'Kieffe on the Super Chief to Los Angeles that night with the instruction to write his entire experience and telegraph it to Chicago—ASAP. The longest telegram ever to be wired to the city arrived shortly thereafter. Thirty-nine hours after his initial meeting with the railroad executive, Burnett and Dick Heath arrived armed with a leather-bound presentation case stamped with the Santa Fe insignia, containing 5000 words about the romance of trains and the Southwestern landscape. They won the account.

The American Meat Institute, and The Minnesota Valley Canning Co. (now called the Green Giant Co.) also took a chance, and Burnett's investment grew. The Burnett logo—a hand reaching for the stars—reflects the founder's philosophy of supporting the creation of superior advertising and the cultivation of lasting relationships.

It's not often in the advertising business that one man's dream, spurred on by deeply seated determination and relentless hard work creates client-agency matches maintained for decades, but Leo Burnett cultivated some very solid bonds that are still going strong: Green Giant (1935), Philip Morris Co. (1954), Pillsbury (1944), Kellogg's (1949), Proctor & Gamble (1952), Commonwealth Edison (1954), Maytag (1955), Allstate (1957), Heinz Pet Products (1958), Starkist (1958), First Brands (1961), United Airlines (1965), General Motors Oldsmobile (1967), and Keebler Co. (1968) are just a few. Brand identity characters developed under the watchful eye of Burnett include: the Jolly Green Giant, Pillsbury Dough Boy, Tony the Tiger, the Marlboro Man, Charlie the Tuna, and the Keebler Elves. And slogans like "You're in Good Hands with Allstate" and "When You're Out of Schlitz You're Out of Beer" have brought America's buying public running for more.

When Philip Morris came to Burnett with the Marlboro business in 1954, the cigarette had the smallest market share in its category. A complete repositioning of the product and implementation of a strong advertising strategy changed the tide. In the sixties, Burnett introduced "Marlboro Country" using the musical score from the film The Magnificent Seven. The popularity of this campaign led to the rise of Marlboro to the number one slot in market share by the end of the decade.

The concept remains the base creative strategy for the product to this day. But with the implementation of Burnett's marketing strategy on the account, a new nontraditional medium was developed for the products that maintained strong imaging continuity throughout. The Marlboro Adventure Team was a year-long promotion that included producing print ads, point-of-sale materials, and a catalogue full of Marlboro gear: clothing and other cowboy and autoracing paraphernalia, like belt buckles and lighters, emblazoned with the Marlboro logo.

The fifty-five full-service offices of Leo Burnett are located in 49 countries with combined billings last year of $4 billion. International billings of $2.2 billion in 1992 placed Burnett in the forefront of worldwide agencies: nearly quadrupling their business in this sector in the last seven years alone with additional clients like McDonald's, Hallmark Cards, Miller Brewing Company, Samsonite, and H.J. Heinz.

And, not surprisingly, a bowl of red delicious apples still sits on the reception desk in every Burnett office around the world.

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 1993.

Hall of fame 3

Jay Chiat



After receiving his degree from Rutgers University, Jay attended the Columbia Graduate School of Broadcasting and later graduated from the UCLA Executive Program. He started his career in advertising as a copywriter for the Leland Oliver Company. He became Creative Director before leaving in 1962 to form Jay Chiat & Associates.

Chiat/Day was born in 1968 when Jay teamed up with Guy Day. Thumbing its nose at conventional advertising wisdom, their agency was one of the first to have its headquarters in Los Angeles. It quickly grew into a major force in advertising with offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, and London.

At Jay’s direction, Chiat/Day was the first agency in the United States to introduce Account Planning, a research-based discipline which establishes a dialogue with consumers to ensure that the advertising is relevant to its target audience. Chiat/Day became famous for its distinctive, breakthrough campaigns.

Jay always believed that the working environment had a direct impact on the creative process, and the remarkable offices designed by Frank Gehry and Gaetano Pesce bear witness to his philosophy. Jay reinvented the way people work by transforming Chiat/Day into a virtual office, one of the first in the U.S.

Jay won numerous honors, and as anyone who ever worked with him would attest, it was largely because of Jay’s tireless enthusiasm. Advertising Age named Chiat/Day “Agency of the Year” in 1980 and 1988, and “Agency of the Decade” in 1989.

After Omnicom’s acquisition of Chiat/Day, Jay shared his creative vision of the future as a consultant to Omnicom. His career in advertising spanned more than 40 years. He died at the age of 70 in April 2002.

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 2004.

The Hall of fame 1



Paula Scher plunged into the New York design world in the early 1970s, a moment when progressive art directors, illustrators, and graphic designers, as well as architects and product designers, were drawing energy and ideas from the parking lots of Las Vegas, the Factory of Andy Warhol, the creative boutiques of Madison Avenue, and the tragi-comedy of the Nixon Administration. This was the nadir of the Pop movement, a period when American design, music, fashion, and fast-food had become a global vocabulary—more profoundly international than the “International Style.” From New York to London to Tokyo to LA, Helvetica was outpaced by the lascivious swashes of Herb Lubalin’s lettering and the exuberant curves, serifs, in-lines, and outlines of a veritable harem of decorative typefaces revived from the dustbins of an ornamental past.

It was in this culture that Paula Scher came of age. She majored in illustration at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, finishing her BFA in 1970. As a student, Scher avoided graphic design because she lacked the necessary “neatness skills” and didn’t like arranging Helvetica on a grid. She didn’t draw well either (a modest liability for an illustrator), but she discovered what she could do: come up with concepts and illustrate them with type.

In 1972, Scher jumped into the belly of popular culture; as art director for CBS Records in New York City, she designed approximately 150 album covers a year, and produced innumerable ads and posters. During her decade in the record industry (one year with Atlantic Records, the rest with CBS), Scher made work that was accessible but smart. She collaborated with illustrators and photographers to interpret music in suggestive, poetic ways—she preferred to invoke a mood or stage a mysterious scenario than provide literal depictions of bands and performers. Scher often drew on typographic styles from the past to complement the imagery she had commissioned. The economic crash that gripped the late 1970s pushed Scher to rely increasingly on letterforms over illustrations; the impulse to convey content and identity through typography became the hallmark of her mature work.

An enormous influence on Scher was designer Seymour Chwast, whose clever blending of image and type inspired countless students and young designers in the 1960s and 1970s. But Scher didn't just admire Chwast, she married him. At age 22, she embarked on what would prove to be a long and complicated relationship with this towering hero of popular design, a man 17 years her senior. They later divorced, and Scher built a life and career on her own, pushing ahead in the competitive design world of New York to construct a distinct identity for herself—a difficult achievement for any designer, and a feat especially rare among women. She married Chwast again when she was 40, and today each enjoys the other’s hard-earned stature and independence, alongside their shared love and company.

Scher left CBS Records in 1982. She formed the studio Koppel & Scher with Terry Koppel in 1984, where she embraced the pressures of working on her own. The experience taught her the challenge of keeping her own clients and "paying [her] own phone bill,” a situation distant from that of a corporation like CBS. In 1991, Scher became a partner in the New York office of Pentagram. This unique business environment makes each partner responsible for maintaining his or her own clients and design teams while sharing accounting services, overhead, and profits with the other partners. The sole woman among 15 partners, Scher describes herself as "the only girl on the football team.” That doesn’t make her a cheerleader or a trophy date, but an equal player in a pack of heavy-hitters. The Pentagram environment continually forces her to hold her own and stay on top, both creatively and economically.

The move to Pentagram marked a major shift in Scher's career. This world-class, large-scale studio brought Scher a new level of visibility, and cultural and economic clout. She now had access to clients and projects that would not have ordinarily come to a smaller studio, especially not to one run by a woman. The years at Pentagram have allowed Scher to sharpen her typographic wit and her knack for conceptual solutions into a powerful approach to identity and branding. Whereas Scher's earlier work often centered around the creation of a neatly contained package for a specific cultural product, she now confronts the much broader challenge of conveying a visual personality across a range of media, from posters, advertisements, and packages to physical spaces.

Among her most spectacular achievements has been the institutional identity she generated for the New York Public Theater in 1994. From large-scale billboards, down to the logo and stationery, Scher used a rhythmic mix of sans serif letterforms to construct a visual vocabulary that is both diverse and coherent—like the theater's programming. Other clients include The New York Times Magazine, Champion International Corporation, Philips Van Heusen, and The American Museum of Natural History.

Assessing her work, Scher says, "I've always been what you would call a 'pop' designer. I wanted to make things that the public could relate to and understand, while raising expectations about what the 'mainstream' can be. My goal is not to be so above my audience that they can't reach it. If I'm doing a cover for a record, I want to sell the record. I would rather be the Beatles than Philip Glass."

Paula Scher is among the best designers of her generation. She cut a path for herself through the billboard-jungle of Pop, creating an approach to design that is articulate yet unpretentious, open to influences yet decisively individualistic. Through her astonishing visual work as well as her generous efforts within our profession as a teacher, advocate, and agitator, Scher has helped put an intelligent face on the field of graphic design.

-Ellen Lupton

Design Heroes

Design heroes: An introduction by Petrula Vrontikis

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” say the Taoists.

To find out more, I asked 15 top graphic designers to tell us about their mentors and those who have influenced them over the years. Their stories confirm that we don’t necessarily seek out these cherished relationships, but rather prepare for them.

School teaches us to learn, so these relationships often occur during our studies or a few years after graduating. We are primed for participating, observing, questioning, discerning and absorbing. Spending time beyond the boundaries of the classroom gives us a peek behind the curtains to view what really makes others tick. It’s a privileged place—we often see passion, enthusiasm, commitment and disappointment. We are allowed to witness another’s frailties as well as their strengths.

The relationships described in the following stories range from mentor, to relative, to hero. Many of those who inspire us have no idea of their ongoing influence on our work, ideas and creative process. We can learn from almost anyone we work with or admire, but a mentorship is a two-way street, where equal respect for each other’s knowledge and differences enter into it. Mentor relationships are challenging and satisfying for both parties.

What emerges is an unexpected synergy that can stay with us throughout our life. It gently nudges us as encouragement to mentor others and seek ways to pass on what we’ve learned.

- Petrula Vrontikis


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Typography and animation [Pulp Fiction]