Norman Nicholson, Illustrator

I had the good fortune to grow up in San Fran­cisco, where in grade school as well as high school, I was constantly exposed to art. I was often taken on day trips to the De Young Museum, Legion of Honor, as well as galleries along Sutter Street and the Gallery at Gump’s at 250 Post Street. While I was in high school, the annual exhibit at the Art Direc­tors Club on Clay Street was a major inspi­ra­tion, as I could view wonderful illus­tra­tions by Stan Galli, Bruce Bomberger, Gordon Brusstar, Fred Ludekens, Maurice Logan and others.

Following high school, my enroll­ment at the Academy of Art was cut short by the Korean War. I enlisted in the Navy, serving until my discharge in 1954. Ever since high school my goal had been to embark on an illus­tra­tion career. At the time, there seemed to be two avenues open : enter the profes­sion as an appren­tice learning from the well estab­lished illus­tra­tors in a studio, or, seek out a top art college. Fresh out of the Navy, I chose the first option. I was hired by Max Land­phere at Land­phere Asso­ciates. I was and still am grateful that Max saw some raw talent or possible poten­tial in what ever I must have been showing at the time.

After two years at the studio, I chose to leave and enroll at Art Center College of Design Los Angeles, on the G.I. Bill, one of the best deci­sions I made at the time. Like after WW2, many students were ex Korean War G.I.s anxious to get on with their careers and life. It was a great time to be at Art Center, lots of talent and compe­ti­tion there. Mark English and Peggy Hopper and John Asaro were class­mates.

After grad­u­a­tion I was hired as an illus­trator at Kaiser Graphic Arts in Oakland. It was a short stay of eight months for me as I wanted to work in a more vibrant market in San Fran­cisco. In the ‘60s, I was repre­sented in Los Angeles by Joe Henninger’s studio, Stephens, Biondi, DeCicco — I often flew down on week­ends to work there. Those were exciting years in San Fran­cisco with all the creativity and inspi­ra­tion that was out there.

My studio loca­tions were mainly on Pacific Avenue and at Pier Five on the Embar­cadero. I think the 525 Pacific group on Pacific Avenue, which I was part of, was the high­light of my career. About 12 very talented illus­tra­tors, graphic designers, and art direc­tors — made up this conge­nial group. Jim Sanford, John Larrecq, Ray Ward, Francie Ward, Kasandra Wein­erth, Tom Durfee, Dick Cole, Delores Camp­bell, John Pratt and myself. Apol­o­gizes to those I may have omitted.

Along with my illus­tra­tion years, trav­eling and partic­i­pating in the United States Air Force Art Program as well as the National Parks Art Program occu­pied my time.

I taught at The Cali­fornia College of Design, the Academy of Art and San Jose State Univer­sity.


Click on an image to see a larger, uncropped image.

1. Design Office AD : Bruce Korta­bien
2. Ford Times Maga­zine /​Ford Motor Co.
3. Kaiser Aluminum Agency : Y&R AD : Don Sternloff and Alan Lefkort
4. San Fran­cisco Maga­zine
5. Chevrolet Corp.
6. Sangrolé Wine AD : Dan Bonfigli
7. Gold­berg Bowen AD : Don Helbig
8. Motorland/​AAA AD : Jack Herold
8. Motorland/​AAA AD : Jack Herold
9. Princess Cruises AD : Jerry Huff
10. Nut Tree (Art Collec­tion ) “Yosemite” AD : Don Burell
11. Arizona /​Foot­ball Richard, Segal & McCoy
12. Fireman’s Fund Insur­ance /​Tennis Inter­na­tional
13. Royal Hawaiian Hotel AD : Scott McBride
14. Design Office AD : Peter Martin
15. Inglenook Wines AD : Max Land­phere
16US National Park Service
17US National Park Service
18. San Fran­cisco Maga­zine
19. Lietz Surveying Instru­ments and Equip­ment
20. Popcorn Cart
21. Airplane & Crew

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