EARTHQUAKE, Feel The Pulse !

At 5:04pm, October 17, 1989, I was in my room on the second floor at One Lombard Street when the words in my hand : “Feel the pulse of the City by the Bay”, described the shaking under my feet ! It was a 6.9 magni­tude EARTHQUAKE !
Growing up in Cali­fornia, the rule that I was taught was to stand in a doorway. My room with windows to the street had an exit only through sliding glass doors.
I had been working on a Vicom Asso­ciates assign­ment that was an invi­ta­tion for the AAD “Recep­tion for Resi­dents” hosted by Syntex. (Syntex Corpo­ra­tion was respon­sible intro­ducing oral contra­cep­tives and anti-​inflammatory drugs.)
I had used markers for my layout, but then I thought to see how it could be accom­plished on the Apple that we had at home. At that time, large pixe­lated art would be the result. I was surprised when the agency went for the idea – as it would show only what was possible at that time !
Being left-​handed and uncom­fort­able grip­ping a square mouse with the long tail, I attempted to develop some “computer chops”. The mouse was attached to the right of the keyboard so I even tried using my right hand. Either way I was pretty clumsy. My first attempt shows the general elements. Then I devel­oped each section of the illus­tra­tion. The computer gave me the oppor­tu­nity to piece these sections into the one full image. Back at the agency, a nega­tive was made. I was returning to my room with the photo­stat, when the earth­quake hit. You can see that the photo­stat is wrin­kled, where I clutched it as I stood within the frame of the open sliding glass doors.

The elec­tricity in the agency was off. Only some outside phones (land­lines) were working. The rooms that had these phones were without windows so you had to light a match to see the keypad of the phone. There was the smell of gas outside in the streets, but only faint in the agency. My calls were to my home and family and then to my aunt who lived out in the “Avenues”, the Sunset district. The next calls were to my friends that our after-​work “Birthday Get-​together” was off. Almost everyone had left the building. (There was a young single guy in the agency, (telling this later) who found himself stuck as a refrig­er­ator momen­tarily pinned him against a side wall. There was another employee in the kitchen at that time and he said that he thought : “Here I am and the last face I see, will be hers”!)
There is much to read of the destruc­tion in various parts of San Fran­cisco. My route, if I had gone home, would have been past the fire and smoke in the Marina district.

Heading out to stay with my aunt, I got my car from the rooftop parking, then down three levels and south to the Broadway tunnel. “Strange” I thought, “no traffic in the tunnel (?!)”. This was not a smart choice, but after­shocks were yet to happen. I stayed overnight with my 74-​year-​old aunt. The next morning, after listening to the news of the exten­sive damage with on-​going rescues, we decided to (of all things) leave her place and visit the earth­quake exhibit at what was then the Stein­hart Plan­e­tarium in Golden Gate Park. As we stepped up on the plat­form that repli­cated the shaking of a strong tremor– the next in line was a young father telling his little boy : ”Don’t be afraid, see those two old ladies can do it!”

When I was back in the agency, thinking that the word, “pulse” (“earth­quake”) might scare off the invited, I asked if the title of the invi­ta­tion should be changed. Again, I was surprised by their deci­sion– “Go with it, as is”.

Ann Thompson

St. Patrick’s Day Layout Lesson

When I was just out of high school and enrolled in the Famous Artists Course, the Spring 1960 issue of their maga­zine was sent to me. Two pages described various approaches in arranging a set of five elements for a layout of a news­paper ad. The lesson offered nine different arrange­ments of size and alter­ation of the elements. There was an expla­na­tion of each of the versions – and the reason for choosing #8.

I never referred to that lesson. Years later, as I produced many layouts, a client often empha­sized the impor­tance of each element or the format, size and length of head­line or columns of type – all influ­enced the choices that were possible. Some ads converted to other sizes, one page, double page, two columns, etc. and each had to carry the basic “look” of them all.
The biggest variety of choices, I found, was when there was full freedom in illus­trating in-​and-​around the needed parts. I was never sure of the best choice. I felt that if I explored as many possi­bil­i­ties that I could in the time allotted, I could leave it to the client to make the choice.
These very rough full-​sized “thumb­nails”, below, were presented to the San Fran­cisco phar­ma­ceu­tical agency of Rain­oldi, Radcliffe & Bolles on November 10, 1980 for an invi­ta­tion needed for a gath­ering in Boston, on St. Patrick’s Day, March 22, 1981. Client : Cutter Labo­ra­to­ries.
Here are the 25 possi­bil­i­ties and the last one shown is the printed invi­ta­tion.

And – you will see, I had been showing four-​leaf-​clovers ! Sham­rocks have only three leaves.
(Just now, I looked up “sham­rock”. I found out that the sham­rock was the image used by Saint Patrick to illus­trate the doctrine of the Trinity and it comes from the Irish word : seamróg.)
Every St. Patrick’s Day, I had seen the deco­ra­tive three-​leaf sham­rocks. I might have noticed my mistake before presenting my sketches or did the agency catch my error ?
If the four-​leaf-​clovers had been spotted only when I submitted my finished art, I would have been required to correct that area with a patch. IF the error, unno­ticed, went to print – it would have been a very expen­sive re-​do. Lucky for me, this lesson in layouts taught me to ques­tion if I had the correct image of every element required.

Ann Thompson

The X-​Files” Parody, Pushing A Drug

The X-​Files” was a TV series that ran from 1995 to 2002. The recent broad­cast is showing now – and it reminds me of an assign­ment on January 7,1997, when I received a call from an art director at FCB /​Health­care, to work on a story­board for Biaxin, Abbott Labo­ra­to­ries. At the agency, the copy­writer was creating the script. The art director suggested that, before coming in to the agency, I should video­tape a showing of “The X-​Files” to study the char­ac­ters, Mulder and Scully and also study the mood of the mystery.
The lines from the first page of the script that was faxed to me, titled :
Treat­ment for Product Rep Video
“The BiaXin-​Files”: The Cure Is Out There
“Main Char­ac­ters” were described as Agent Mildew and Agent Scuzzy.

I had always thought that a peptic ulcer was caused by stress but the copy of this assign­ment taught me that it is often caused from H-​pylori bacteria (Helicobacter-​pylori). In 1985, Abbott Labs had part­nered with a Japanese drug company to fight bacte­rial infec­tions. Abbott Labs got the FDA approval for Biaxin in 1991.

By the time that I arrived at the agency, with these sketches, the art director had devel­oped this rough story­board for me to follow. My image of the H-​pylori bacteria is the sharp-​toothed eel-​like image that I found and clipped from my exten­sive scrap file. I colored this crea­ture in the brightest, glowing colors that would make the crea­ture stand out in the dark video.
Following the art director’s 24 frames, my inter­me­diate frames of the story­board got approval from the agency.

There was one more version drawn with more detail and presented on boards for approval of the client, Abbott Labs.
Since I was working at home and at the agency, my time-​sheet (I am surprised that I kept it) shows the hours and loca­tions as I was devel­oping the begin­ning, inter­me­diate and final draw­ings. First, the hours I worked were week­days and then there was also a lot of weekend, over­time hours, as it neared the dead­line. I don’t have the final perfected story­board, it was kept by the agency, but the timesheet for the last version – shows that I spent the average of 27 minutes on each frame.
As my part of this promo­tional campaign ended, I moved on to other jobs for other clients, so I never found out if the video was actu­ally produced. Could they find actor /​look-​alikes, find loca­tions and afford the special effects for such a spoof ? The video would have been very expen­sive and prob­ably was to be shown at confer­ences or parties, tied in with a trade show. I don’t know how this video could educate the reps with infor­ma­tion to use as they repre­sented Biaxin to doctors and medical centers.
(There was, at the end of the video, a “doctor” with a closing message. Copy for this was not included with the script. This might have contained impor­tant infor­ma­tion for the product repre­sen­ta­tives.)

As I was preparing this report, I was able to find a clue suggesting that the parody had been produced. I studied the collec­tion of “images” that came with the search of : Biaxin. Here were many “Tchotchkes – free promo­tional items dispensed at trade shows, conven­tions, and similar commer­cial events”. (This is a term that I learned when first working for phar­ma­ceu­tical agen­cies).

In this collec­tion, I spotted the same kind of “bacteria monster” (that I had intro­duced in my story­board) shown on a wall clock ! There is no date for the clock, but if it was made in 1997, it might have been handed out at the time of the showing of “The Biaxin-​Files”!

Then and now, the ques­tion : how could the Abbott sales force get any infor­ma­tion from the video to aid them as they repre­sented Biaxin to the medical world ? Medical journal ads, trade shows, patient aids, product infor­ma­tion, confer­ences, and direct reports to the reps are all of value– but giving reps : clothing, pens, plush toys, etc.? There must be a reason for rewarding product reps, with small gifts, beyond paying them. Some items could have been passed on during the rep’s appoint­ments. The enter­taining moti­va­tional video and give­aways were prob­ably paid for by patients, as “research and devel­op­ment”.

Ann Thompson

Twins With Different Art Styles

The McKee twins seemed to move natu­rally, each into their own style of art. I asked those who knew them what they remem­bered about them at the time that they both worked in San Fran­cisco at Land­phere Asso­ciates. The memo­ries from several Land­phere artists reported the McKee brothers were very close and a family member said that they even built a house together, which is a very different situ­a­tion where conflicts can be common.
Both Don and Ron McKee sensed as early as the 3rd grade at the John T. Hartman grade school in Kansas City, Missouri, that they wanted to make “Art” their career. Later, after grad­u­ating from South­west High in 1949, Don and Ron attended one year at The Univer­sity of Kansas City and one year at the Kansas City Art Insti­tute and then attended the Amer­ican Academy of Art in Chicago. Both twins were drafted into the U.S. Army for two years. As the Korean War ended, after completing basic training, Don and Ron spent the rest of their two-​year career in the Army designing and silk screening recruiting posters for the Sixth Army at The Presidio, located near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ron McKee After the mili­tary service, Ron was a top grad­uate of Art Center College in southern Cali­fornia. Working as an illus­trator in Detroit, San Fran­cisco, New York and Los Angeles, Ron has provided art for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Arco, 3M, Readers Digest, Universal Studios and Mattel Toys, among others. He produced paint­ings for the Irvine Company for the “Newport Coast Exhibit” picturing their luxury housing devel­op­ment.
During the few years that Ron worked at Landphere’s, Ron had this fresh and easy style when illus­trating sleek auto­mo­biles.

In contrast, this brochure for the new $21 million Crocker Plaza required Ron to accu­rately illus­trate and dramat­i­cally empha­size the 38-​story struc­ture to be completed in 1968. (I am including all of the pages of the brochure to show that this was a very large building for a skyline so different from today’s. The brochure was meant to be turned, to view the pages hori­zon­tally and verti­cally. (I do not have the infor­ma­tion to credit the agency and others involved in its produc­tion.) Following in the gallery are illus­tra­tions that were presented in various annual exhi­bi­tions :

In 1970 Ron McKee moved to work in the Los Angeles area. Now his paint­ings are marketed directly through numerous shows and select galleries.

Don McKee After the mili­tary service, Don was hired by Max Land­phere Asso­ciates (then at 215 Kearny Street) as a graphic designer. He produced ads and brochures for adver­tising agen­cies and direct clients.
Here are just some exam­ples from 1958, all eight were presented in San Francisco’s10th Annual Art Direc­tors Exhi­bi­tion :

By 1960 while at Land­phere Asso­ciates, Don had devel­oped a new concept in greeting cards, called “Cube Cards” as you see below.

Don, for a time, had his own graphic studio at 901 Broadway and when Max Land­phere retired, Don moved back to the Land­phere loca­tion (then on Gold Street) and he named it : “Artworks”. By 1973 he employed as many as 40 artists. In his many years as a successful graphic artist Don devel­oped an “art path” uniquely his own and he empow­ered others to multiply their own artistic talents. Don also created a selec­tion of regular greeting cards and with a move of his office and studio to San Rafael, Cali­fornia : he renamed his company “Joy Crafters”.
(Note, for accu­racy, I have “lifted” parts of para­gaphs from the biogra­phies of Ron and Don and these two photos of the twins were the only ones that I found.)
I’ve noticed that most siblings, who are close in age, compete. As chil­dren, the rivalry can be in many areas of accom­plish­ments as they mature. When the chal­lenge was drawing, my sister and I made a pact. I would not draw fashion and she would not draw cartoons. There was, then, no compe­ti­tion.
Ann Thompson

Louis Macouillard, Location, Location

Louis Macouil­lard, Loca­tion – Loca­tion

I never got to meet this fine San Fran­cisco painter/​illustrator who was known for his water­color paint­ings, posters, menu covers, murals, stamp designs and more. Of French decent, he was born in San Fran­cisco in 1913.
In the early ‘30s he attended San Fran­cisco Poly­technic High School (1884 – 1973).

701 Fred­erick Street, across from Kezar Stadium, I show the two gymna­siums, as they are today and a photo showing the main building. Also, here is a Google photo, showing the distance between the two gyms, where the main building once stood.
I know three of my friends who schooled there in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. The photo of these friends in art class, are today’s artists : Norm Nicholson and Tony Calvello. The school offered a prepa­ra­tion for a career rather than require­ments for an acad­emic college.

By 1934, Louis was attending the Cali­fornia College of Arts in Oakland (which was renamed in 1936 as the Cali­fornia College of Arts Crafts). The history of this college goes back to 1902. Louis then studied study at the Art Students League in New York City.
Back in San Fran­cisco, he opened his studio on Hotaling Place. He became art director for Velve­tone Poster Company at the same loca­tion in Jackson Square.
Following the early proce­dures that put printed words on felt pennants, this poster company pioneered the high quality screen-​printing of a “poster”. Here is a photo of that pioneer poster company and the poster that Louis Macouil­lard created for them. The third showing is Hotaling Place, today.

Louis was a Lieu­tenant in the Navy during WWII in the South Pacific. Research stated that a spread of his paint­ings from this area of the world was shown in the October 18,1943 issue of Life Maga­zine. The cover, shown below, shows Ensign Louis Macouil­lard and Grace Harrison, who was an adver­tising copy­writer in San Fran­cisco. They had married in July of 1943 and they remained together until his death in 1987. Grace died in 2000. Nowhere on the web could I find the story in the maga­zine, so for $6.59 I bought a copy so that I could share it here. This issue had many adver­tise­ments of prod­ucts known then and now, with illus­tra­tions from the very talented commer­cial artists of the time. Besides the British Pathé News in the theaters and the limited photos in news­pa­pers, Life’s exten­sive photos covering WWII in many parts of the world was an exten­sive and current view of the war.
Here is Life Magazine’s story about Ensign Macouil­lard and repro­duc­tions of his paint­ings, on loca­tion, followed by a painting that he created near the ancient temple, Marea Tainuu on the island, Ra’i?tea, French Poly­nesia.

The last image is a remem­brance written by Fred Meinke. Fred and Cal Anderson, (two of our SF adver­tising friends) also painted when “off-​duty” at a WWII loca­tion.

During the 1960s, Louis carried on the assign­ment of menu covers for the Matson Line. He followed three previous artists who had illus­trated trop­ical scenes for the line’s voyages to Hawaii and other trop­ical Matson desti­na­tions. From the Macouil­lard collec­tion, I show just three. There seems to be just one menu showing San Fran­cisco.

Through the years, there are so very many exam­ples of Macouillard’s fine art and commer­cial assign­ments found on the web (Louis Macouillard-​Images). I show a few well-​known exam­ples and include some that are in private collec­tions.

A few notes from the above collec­tion :
The 1950s illus­tra­tion “South Shore St. Peter’s Church Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Bermuda After­noon” was one printed by Portal Publi­ca­tions, Ltd. (founded in 1954 in San Rafael, CA)
“Summer Fog” was one of four prints (date unknown) by Bohemian Inter­na­tional Publishers, Ltd..
The Bank of America mural in San Mateo, CA.
BofA was formerly, The Bank of Italy in San Fran­cisco. During the 1906 earth­quake and fire, all funds were moved for safe-​keeping by A. P. Gian­nini to his home San Mateo.
This 1970s mural is a tribute to Mr. Gian­nini and that history. It was designed by Louis Macouil­lard. Glass tiles were set by Alphonso Purdinas.

Louis was a very skilled, life-​long yachtsman and he hand­crafted one of the first trimarans to sail on San Fran­cisco Bay. Besides their home on Russian Hill in San Fran­cisco, the Macouil­lards also lived in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, another area of inspi­ra­tion for his painting.
Louis Macouil­lard died on November 26, 1987 in San Fran­cisco.

Ann Thompson