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”.
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.
“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”.
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.
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.