Imitating The New Yorker Cartoonists

Imita­tion is the sincerest form of flat­tery.” This is the famous quote used since it was stated by the English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton who lived from 1780 – 1832. Artists, through the years, have learned from each other and often there is an obvious simi­larity achieved in their work. I found that it was chal­lenging to imitate the art styles of others. As a layout artist, I could present a partic­ular artist’s style- — with the plan of the client hiring the artist known for that style.

In 1968, Charles Matheny Adver­tising was located on the second floor of the Belli Building (where I was begin­ning my graphic art career) we both admired James Thurber who was an Amer­ican writer with a unique style of wit and humorous illus­tra­tion. Thurber’s cartoons and short stories were published mostly in The New Yorker, and he was also a jour­nalist and a playwright—

–but he could no longer be reached :
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 21961).

So imita­tion was our answer.
I offered a similar “look” (not truly copying his style — not really fooling Thurber fans). Charles Matheny had a long career in copy­writing for adver­tising. There were various campaigns for his client, Cali­fornia Casu­alty. These ads, folders and counter card show the art style that didn’t take much time to execute so it fit the client’s sched­ules and budget for this campaign.

In 1975, there were two ad campaigns, promoting the use of BankAmeri­card. I was to study Robert Weber’s cartoon style. His work was easy to find as his cartoons were also published often in The New Yorker maga­zine. Robert Maxwell Weber (April 22, 1924 – October 20, 2016 Known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007 – this was an artist that could be reached in the 1970s ! The first ad shows Weber’s style. Next, my layout (imitating Weber’s style) and the final ad by Weber as printed in many publications.

With the second BofA ad — I again tried to guess the image that would sell the concept to the client, National BankAmeri­card Inc. (that I knew as NBI). (After all these years, my files are incom­plete and I cannot remember the creative director that guided me.) I was not able to have a copy of the second final printed ad showing Weber’s final art — but here is the Xerox from those days that shows his plan. I was able to use this image in preparing the type and place­ment of the art before his final illus­tra­tion arrived.

Charles David Saxon (November 13, 1920 — December 61988)

Maxwell “Bud” Arnold formed an adver­tising agency in 1970. He was creating effec­tive adver­tising campaigns for clients but he also felt that he could use adver­tising to reach an audi­ence on socially conscious issues. In September of 1976, for Maxwell Arnold’s client, Golden Gate Transit, I was asked to imitate a Charles Saxon style. (This was the only time that I had free-​lanced for Mr. Arnold. He died May 242013.)

After being an editor for Dell Publishing before and after his service in WW2, Saxon began his career as a very well know cartoonist — first for The Saturday Evening Post and in 1956 he started producing his outstanding 92 covers and 700 cartoons for The New Yorker.
Following the two SAXON covers, below, this was my “Saxonish” drawing that’s Bud Arnold submitted to Golden Gate Transit for an approval of style—

—but the finished art was assigned to still another artist who was showing in several popular maga­zines and also worked for year for Disney : Henry ‘Hank’ Syverson (October 5, 1918 – August 12, 2007) Besides being a constant cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, This Week and The New Yorker maga­zines, his draw­ings reached other coun­tries with PAN AM Airways ads.
Here are some of Syverson’s creations :

The last ad appeared in October in the Marin County’s Inde­pen­dent Journal. It was then that I found out that the client had changed the artist from Charles Saxon to Hank Syverson.

Ann Thompson

Lunch With Dugald

Lunch With Dugald
by Newell Alexander

Rose­mary and I had flown to San Fran­cisco from L.A. to act in a series of commer­cials for a now defunct Bay Area amuse­ment park. In the first shot of the day, Rose­mary, two little kids and I were riding in a basket on the back of a huge elephant. We were stuck as the animal proceeded to go rogue, he ran through a large part of the park before he could be stopped with us unable to get off. Later, in another shot I was supposed to stand next to a Tiger who decided to lie on top of me, I was trying not to panic. The trainer kept screaming at the cat and jerking on a long chain. I was begging him, “Don’t make him mad.” The Tiger finally lost interest, stood up and saun­tered away. The produc­tion was a disaster, the director quit in the middle of the day, the whole thing was a wash, I don’t think the spot ever aired. But all was not lost, we both had a good payday and we were going to get to see my old pal, famed San Fran­cisco artist Dugald Stermer, so the trip was not a total failure.

It had been several years since I had seen Dugald, so Rose­mary and I rented a car and added an extra day to our trip so we could have nice long catch-​up lunch. Dugald called in his no nonsense manner, “Meet me at Delancy’s, it’s near my studio in the Embar­cadero.” The meal was delightful, Dugald’s pres­ence gave us lots of atten­tion, the staff approached our table as if he were a Francis Ford Coppola Godfa­ther, we later found out he was a long standing member of the board of the Delancy Street Foun­da­tion that managed the restau­rant. I did give him some grief over him having a sand­wich named after him on the menu. Dugald wasn’t a big fan of show busi­ness ; his ex-​father-​in-​law was James Bacon, a long time promi­nent enter­tain­ment colum­nist for the Los Angeles Herald-​Examiner. Dugald’s former wife Carol was raised in Holly­wood amid all the glitz and glamour, neither she nor Dugald were attracted to celebrity.

After lunch we walked around to Dugald’s studio, which was in the complex, it’s hard to describe how he had designed his work­space, it was remi­nis­cent of what Tom Mix or Ken Maynard’s den would look like, Indian pottery, rugs, Western memo­ra­bilia, a real Western ambiance. Several left-​handed guitars adorned the walls. After his passing it was dupli­cated in a display at the Cali­fornia College of the Arts.

When he first came to Houston, I watched Dugald tran­si­tion from a West Coast casual look, to boots, vest, Levis, and western shirts, a signa­ture look he retained to the end. In his studio we looked at some of his work, we remi­nisced, Rose­mary and I sang, and we drank some rare Irish Whiskey, of which he was very fond. It was the last time we were face-to-face.

The next week after our lunch, I wrote Dugald the following letter using the Delancy Restau­rant address.

Dear Mr. Stermer,
We had lunch in San Fran­cisco last week at Delancy’s, we saw you
having lunch with one of our favorite actors, Newell Alexander, we were going to ask him for an auto­graph but we somehow missed him when you guys left. My wife asked the staff who you were and the waiter said you just ate his sand­wich. Ha ! Since you know him could you send this enclosed package to him ? It has return postage.
Thanking you in advance, this means a lot to us.
Sincerely,
Babs and Sven Yevhoods 
P.S. We met Newell at the Cow Palace when he was touring with Neil Young.

I got an answer to my letter a few days later, it was on his letter­head, in the middle of the page were two words hand lettered in his trade­mark callig­raphy, “Nice Try.”

I first met Dugald when I was working as a designer/​paste up artist in a small six-​man studio in booming Houston, Texas. He had been working for a short while for the Dick Kuhn Studio in Los Angeles, he was recruited by our studio owner, Bill Middaugh. I was a little disap­pointed when my boss Bill, came back from a Cali­fornia trip all-​aglow over Dugald’s work. I saw the attrac­tion when I leafed through Dugald’s port­folio, his work was so good I couldn’t be jealous. I had one year of art at the Univer­sity of Houston, he was a grad­uate of the UCLA School of Fine Art. He and Olympic Cham­pion Rafer Johnson were class­mates and they were exchange students together in India during Dugald’s Junior year.

I was assigned to pick Dugald up at Hobby Airport in South Houston, I was curious, I knew he and I were about the same age. We both were family men, I had three chil­dren, he had four. The years he had spent in art school, I had spent in the U.S. Navy as an aviator.

We were doing very well at the studio, the addi­tion of Dugald was amazing, he and I worked well together, word was out that we were a “hot shop,” doing good, creative work. Our boss Bill came in with the news that we were getting a chance to land an ad campaign for the largest bank in Houston, no pitch, just design an ad, if they liked it we could have the account. It was to be a full-​page four-​color ad on the back of Hous­tonian Maga­zine. We briefly brain­stormed and Dugald did a rough sketch, it said in small type, “member of,” and then “FDIC” in a huge bold font. He added a small photo of the bank building about the size of a postage stamp on the bottom margin. Sizing up the work, Boss Bill said, “I don’t think they’ll get it.” There was a long silence, “How about doing an alter­nate ? Just make the building big and FDIC small.” Dugald refused to change it. I wouldn’t change it either and we didn’t get the account. Dugald’s reac­tion ? Fuck ‘em.” The story got around the ad commu­nity in Houston and our busi­ness skyrock­eted. It was a lesson well learned. I used the same tech­nique later when I was working as an art director on major accounts at a large agency in Dallas. I won some battles and lost some.

I never knew Dugald as an illus­trator, he did however do the linocuts and hand set all the type in the work he did on his small letter­press he called “The Impress.” The small 4 x 5 inch books were gems that he printed on hand­made paper, the text was simple and clever, the art was very tasty. His press was set up in his house and he spent many late nights drinking Irish whiskey and making small delightful pieces of art. His mastery of typog­raphy was amazing and he won numerous awards in the Houston and Dallas-​Fort Worth Art Director’s competitions.

Howard Gossage was flown in to judge the Houston Art Director’s show. He was an icon in the adver­tising San Fran­cisco adver­tising commu­nity, Howard was blown away by Dugald’s work. Dugald won several awards and with Howard’s help he landed the Art Director’s job at Ramparts Maga­zine in the Bay Area. Dugald assisted me in getting a job at CA maga­zine in Palo Alto. I free-​lanced some for Dugald at Ramparts but only for a few months. The mail boy at the maga­zine, and our weed connec­tion, was a young eager kid named Jann Wenner. Jann went on to trans­form the anti-​war maga­zine Ramparts into today’s Rolling Stone Magazine.

My tenure at CA was brief, I moved back to Texas and didn’t see Dugald for many years. I watched his ascent into art fame as I labored in Southern Cali­fornia building an acting career.

Dugald and I only had one moment of discord, I made an off-​hand remark in a post, “Keep the lenses of your Art-​O-​Graph clean.” (An Art-​O-​Graph is a tool to aid drawing). I knew he was pissed because of several one-​word responses to my e-mails.

Every once in a while when I have a moment I will log on to Dugald’s website and just browse through some of his work. His design sense helped him place his art on the page in very tasty ways. He would scoff at the notion, but I consider him a master.

Dugald Stermer mastered the appli­ca­tion of art and ideas.

The Ramparts covers, above show one example from each of the years when Dugald was the art director at the maga­zine. The two exam­ples— Ben Franklin and Woody Guthrie — show styles far different than illus­tra­tions that he produced later. The edito­rial page, in 1969 explained that Ramparts had been loosing revenue and had to go into bank­ruptcy, Chapter 11. Dugald left his posi­tion as art director in 1970. The maga­zine needed to raise its subscrip­tion price and had legal prob­lems. It lasted until 1975. Then it was taken over and became the Rolling Stone Maga­zine. Another offshoot was Mother Jones Magazine.

At the left of this story, under Artist’s Sites, you will see Dugald Stermer’s website showing his deft illus­tra­tion and lettering styles known to his many admirers.
More on Newell Alexander can be found on IMDb.

Ann Thompson

IT” Was An ATM !

In August of 1974, I was free-​lancing at 300 Broadway, second floor. I was assigned the chal­lenge of creating a new image for Redwood Bank. I began with the colors so popular in those years, magenta and red. Here you see, just portions of pages of devel­op­ment — the last section shows the devel­oped logo used with the basic logo of each of the bank branches.

So busy was I, with the logo devel­op­ment, I wasn’t yet informed what this new “IT” was offering. As approved copy arrived for type­set­ting and I received my instruc­tions for a line drawing of the “Instant Teller” — I saw that this was very different ! There were many promo­tional pieces required : news­paper ads, folders, bank displays, outdoor boards, taxi backs and more. (In the third item below which was produced to mail the IT card to the Redwood Bank account holder, you can see that this is just my mock-​up of what would be the actual plastic card.)

I have to laugh at myself because at that time, I thought that this form of banking — using a piece of equip­ment instead of the personal inter­ac­tion with a human bank teller — would never catch on. Then, when it was said that a person would do their banking out on the street — then I was sure this was risky and a “bad Idea”! Recently, I looked up the first install­ments of this kind of service. In the US, a patent record issued to Luther George Simjian shows his 132nd patent (US3079603), was first filed on June 30,1960. There are reports of many banking machines with many names devel­oped in many coun­tries, but the “Instant Teller” was new to this area. I must have been too absorbed in my work to even read or hear any news reports about the new convenience.

Promo­tional pins, T-​shirts, and plastic tote bags —were added to the Redwood Bank’s campaign. When the equip­ment and the card that acti­vated the Instant Teller were ready, this news­paper story (below) appeared in San Rafael’s Inde­pen­dent Journal on August 21, 1975 describing a period of time when the equip­ment would be prac­ticed — inside the bank — to be followed by the instal­la­tion OUTSIDE and avail­able “24 hours a day, 365 days a year”! One of the last of my assign­ments was this round handout, a reminder to try “IT”.

There were many years when Redwood Bank offered this new method of banking at each of their branches. I never thought to take a photo when the bank had the large brightly colored images of the “IT’ logo at his loca­tion at 1447 Fourth Street, San Rafael, CA.— I thought it would, always, be there.

The first photo, the loca­tion, 1447 Fourth Street, as it was in 1964. The second photo is how it looks now. It was orig­i­nally a Pacific Gas and Elec­tric building. Today, it has two-​tenants, a dental prac­tice and herb store /​clinic. The bank has become Redwood Credit Union at the Montecito Shop­ping Center on Third Street in San Rafael. It has a green color scheme and ATMs outside.

I found it odd that there is no Internet refer­ence about the Redwood Bank and its branches, nor any refer­ence to the 1975 intro­duc­tion to “IT”! But recently, I found out that a personal friend, Ann Cameron, whose title at that time was Senior Oper­a­tions Officer, Redwood National Bank, was at the bank at that time ! She was able to bring a huge scrap­book of photos, news­paper clip­pings and bank publi­ca­tions. I asked Ann for her personal expe­ri­ences with the intro­duc­tion of “IT”!

She wrote :

Getting the first ATM (we called the Instant Teller) in Marin Co. sounds cool. And Redwood Bank was a bastion of cool, at least in the corner offices ! But for those of us who had to make it work it was night­mare. For starters during the roll out we had to wear T-​shirts that had the slogan, YOULL LOVE IT AT REDWOOD right across our chests. UGG we all hated it ! In the first iter­a­tion the money had to be loaded in to little envelopes, a five-​dollar bill and a twenty. Then the envelopes were loaded into trays that fitted into the back of the machine. Of course it broke down all the time and many nights a client would call me at home to come down and give them money from the back of the IT. As it was free standing kiosk in the parking lot secu­rity was always an issue. Auditing would have been most displeased if they ever figured out we just opened the doors and doled out money. The next gener­a­tion of IT did not use the envelopes. The currency was fed into the trays, $20.00 in the top tray and $10.00 bill in the bottom. Of course if you reversed the trays then the machine dispensed $20s where the $10s should be. I had a huge dog in those days and always took him with me on my night excur­sions to the Bank, my secu­rity. Inter­est­ingly during this same period Redwood was also exper­i­menting with what is now on-​line banking, we called it computer banking. We had a handful of clients who had access to their accounts via their home computer. Even­tu­ally the Bank decided they did not have the infra­struc­ture for all the compli­cated program­ming that needed to be in place to make computer banking viable.

Ann Cameron

From the scrap­book, I show these addi­tional images :

The first shows the outdoor instal­la­tion of the Instant Teller located in the bank’s parking lot with a group photo of the bank’s employees in 1976.
Second, is a clip­ping from the Vallejo Inde­pen­dent Press, August 12,1979.
Third, two pages from the Redwood Bancorp Annual Report 1975, which describes Redwood Bank’s inno­v­a­tive approaches to banking. (The illus­trator is not cred­ited and most likely would have been one of our Geezers, back in the day.)

Ann Thompson

Color is important, Ask Alan

Color is impor­tant, Ask Alan Lefkort !
In the previous collec­tion, I wanted to show the 1963 Award of Excel­lence for Direct Mail that was awarded to Alan Lefkort. The pages from the ADASF annual of that year were only in black and white. You will see that this winning design was not clear enough to show the image that made it a success.

I reached Alan to see if he could share the actual letter­head and enve­lope, for me to show here. He told the story of being told by Bob Pritikin that the stationery could only be printed in one color, black. Alan had to fight for color ! The whole adver­tising world knew that the copy­writers used yellow legal tablets as they came up with a winning head­line, body copy and all copy needed to reach the public in print and all other media of advertising.
As copy devel­oped, there were a lot of ideas that the copy­writer tossed to the waste­basket. This was the normal process until the best copy ideas were born.

1963 Award of Excel­lence San Fran­cisco Art Direc­tors and Artists Club
The small type at the bottom of the letter­head reads : Board of Direc­tors /​Howard Gossage, Peggy Green­field, Hal Larson, Dan Lewis, Fred Manley, Hanley Norins, Bob Pritikin, Nelson Shreve, George Sutton, Julian Watkins.

Alan Lefkort was often “covering two bases”: art director and copy­writer. He brought the two valu­able talents to many San Fran­cisco adver­tising agen­cies : McCann, Y&R, Dailey & Asso­ciates, D’Arcy-MacManus & Masius and Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli. Clever concepts of words and images came together in one place, on Alan’s drawing board. Visiting Alan, I saw a large collec­tion of printed pieces of a variety of corpo­ra­tions that adver­tised through San Francisco’s talented teams.

The Adver­tising Club of San Francisco’s Cable Car Awards, 1981 publi­ca­tion was among Alan’s collec­tion. This 48-​page collec­tion was called “The Sweep­stakes Awards” because of the record amount of entries that year. Alan was the first ever to win the Marget Larsen Award for art direc­tion. He was, at that time, vice-​president and exec­u­tive art director for Dailey & Asso­ciates, San Francisco.

Marget Larsen Award This was the art direc­tion award that Alan received for the image that he created for this “Black and White News­paper Ad” cate­gory even though his copy “Berth Announce­ment” was also a ‘winning’ copywriter’s line for the whole campaign for Philip­pine Airlines.

Ann Thompson

Graphic Designers Made Their Marks

San Francisco’s Graphic Designers Made Their Creative Marks


Illus­tra­tion by John Craig. Type and page design by William P. Davis.

Walter Landor From the above report by Ken Kelley and Rick Clogher in the August 1992 issue of PBS KQED’s San Fran­cisco Focus magazine :
Walter Landor came to San Fran­cisco and founded Landor Asso­ciates in 1941. At that time, the only indus­trial designer around told him “that there was barely enough work to support one designer in San Fran­cisco, let alone two”.
“The designs that have come out of Landor Asso­ciates in the past five decades — whether Walter’s own or those of his skilled colleagues — are a perma­nent part of our culture. But Landor’s greatest creation may be the least tangible one : he turned product brand and corpo­rate iden­tity design from a young, ill-​defined field into a world-​recognized profes­sion. In the process, he turned San Fran­cisco — his adopted home — into a creative hub of those fields.”

These pages : Commu­ni­ca­tion Arts May /​June 1980

Marget Larsen As art director for Joseph Magnin, a store catering to young, smart tastes, Marget was involved in retail news­paper adver­tising. Her design and use of color, with illus­tra­tions by Betty Brader Ashley, built an image for the store. All of the JM design was handled inter­nally and Marget also did the brochures and packaging.

She designed many of the ads for the San Fran­cisco agency Weiner & Gossage or Freeman Mander & Gossage or what­ever name they were oper­ating under that week, and also worked as a partner in Intrin­sics, Inc. with Robert Freeman. Intrin­sics created and marketed design prod­ucts and offered creative consulting to clients. “Marget was respon­sible for so many inno­va­tions, and was the very embod­i­ment of ‘What if?’” said Freeman. “She, prob­ably as much as any other, changed the look of adver­tising and graphics in the last gener­a­tion.” Ca

This copy, above, is from the Commu­ni­ca­tion Arts web site. They offer (digital) back copies at : https://​store​.commarts​.com/​s​i​n​g​l​e​-​c​o​p​y​?​P​a​g​e​=35. The story of Marget Larsen is in the March /​April 1988 issue.

One of the most outstanding of Marget’s talents was the complete visual iden­tity that she created for the 1907 Del Monte Cannery (at one time the largest peach cannery in the world). The prop­erty was being converted into shops and restau­rants just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf. The basic iden­tity design was one that she adapted from the tie-​rod washers that held up the massive brick struc­tures. She convinced the devel­opers to alter a whole outside wall to accom­mo­date her Cannery Star. You can see in the signs, the tie-​rod washer in the center of the star.

In addi­tion to the massive amount of recog­nized accom­plish­ments, Marget’s personal collec­tion of her art has been made avail­able at : margetlarsen(dot)com.

A collec­tion from 1958 and years : 1963 to 1967. I found that graphic designers were, and are, often creating other design assign­ments when a new mark is required. One didn’t have to specialize as an “image maker”. The logos, here, were accepted entries in the ADASF (Art Direc­tors and Artists of San Fran­cisco) Annual Exhi­bi­tion, years : 1958 and 1963, ’646566 and ‘67.
Most logos are used as busi­ness stationery. In 1964 no indi­vidual marks were shown. “Direct Mail” was the clas­si­fi­ca­tion title that year. The two exam­ples were “Iden­tity Images”: G. Dean Smith created the wild-​flower cover to repre­sent the Curry Company at Yosemite Park. The little flag held by the figure on the string was sent by mail to tell that : “Nicolas Sidjakov — is moving to — 633 Mont­gomery St. — San Fran­cisco — EX 27754.” 1966 had an exten­sive cate­gory : Trade Marks, Letter­heads, Logo­types, Lettering. The Walter Landor Asso­ciates’ entry was the full alphabet designed for the Cali­fornia Wine Asso­ci­a­tion. They named the type style “Klamath” which was the name of their ferry­boat, as described above.

To those designers, whose creations I have missed, I apologize.
Some of the logos in the annual publi­ca­tions were too small to show.

Ann Thompson