Nicolas Sidjakov

Nicolas Sidjakov Designer, Illustrator, San Francisco

Nicolas Sidjakov Designer, Illus­trator, San Francisco

Nicolas Sidjakov, (12 – 16-1924 – 6 – 20-1993).
Born in Riga, Latvia.
Nic Sidjakov studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, worked in adver­tising, and free-lanced for the French movie industry before moving to the USA in 1954.
In San Fran­cisco, his loca­tions were — 1967: 120 Green Street — 1971: 433 Turk Street — 1976: 1779 Union Street — and then with part­ners — Sidjakov, Berman & Gomez from 1981 – 1987: 1779 Union Street. Nic lived in Sausalito, CA.

When Tom Kamifugi & Asso­ciates (at 433 Turk Street) and Nic shared neigh­boring art studios — they created this poster, an invi­ta­tion to their party. It appeared in the Art Direc­tors and Artists Club of San Francisco’s eigh­teenth annual in 1967, under the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of “Maga­zine Ad”. (Hal Riney was ADASF’s show chairman, that year.)
The credit infor­ma­tion shown in the annual, shows M. Halber­stadt as the photog­ra­pher — but the photo was by Jack Allen.
Jack had been forming an ad agency with Harrah’s club as his first client. When internal poli­tics ended that plan, Jack became a profes­sional photographer.

This, I reported previ­ously. (See: Geezers’ Gallery Jack Allen — Ad Man + Photog­ra­pher + Painter)

Jack Allen wrote:
“Mean­while, the photog­ra­pher Milton (Hal) Halber­stadt invited me to lunch and suggested we might pool our talents. He had a beau­tiful studio in North Beach and I said yes, quicker than dirt.
At first we had fun — as Hal liked the sets he was so good at putting together — and I liked the people. So we fit well. And we enjoyed lunch at New Joes. And Hal was a Master Photog­ra­pher so I was learning every day.
As in many things, they don’t always work as planned. Hal and I parted as friends and I moved to Vander­water Street in my own studio, next to Vene­to’s Restau­rant. Years of work came out this Studio.”

So on 111020, I emailed and phoned Jack and asked what it was like taking this photo of Sidjakov and Kamifugi. “Can you tell what the day was like, working with those two – – taking that shot? How long could Nic, hold still in that Cossack position?”
Jack said that all he said at that time was: “Hold still”!

There is a lot to be found on-line about the extremely talented, Nic Sidjakov. In my collec­tion of ADASF publi­ca­tions, I found 107 of Nic’s accepted entries in the years of 1963-to-1967 and 1974 and 1978. Some, show that he was listed as Art Director – (19) and others, cred­ited his artistic / design skills – (88). I had planned to scan and show these pieces but he was too prolific with his many styles — for me to be able to display them here.

His volume of work was explained. This from Chris Blum:
–“ad folks would drink their after­noon and want to nap and Nic would take over and save their jobs for them”. C.B.

I never had the chance to meet Nic Sidjakov, but i was told that he was as kind as he was talented and was always there to assist.

The sixth publi­ca­tion (1964) of the Cham­pion Paper’s – Imag­i­na­tion – “The Wild West” paper sample was in the ADASF’s sixteenth annual show in 1965 listed under Booklet or Folders”. Nic Sidjakov and Ewald Breuer provided the artwork and Tom Gorey directed the art. (And, Jack Allen shot the photo of the “Gunslinger”.)
I show the compli­cated plan­ning neces­sary in producing this booklet.
There are fold-out pages, partial pages, die-cut pages, embossed pages, even a sleeve, holding a single detached page. All of the artwork explained how chosen colors worked well on the various samples of stock. The booklet was designed to show the the graphic art commu­nity the many possi­bil­i­ties for their graphic projects when choosing Cham­pion Papers.
I have repeated the pages to show the planned sequence as one looks through the booklet – – opening folds that reveal more images – – all that was created offered an “expe­ri­ence”.

Also, here are samples of Nic Sidjakov’s design that I have kept though the years. These two news­paper spreads and a Focus Maga­zine ad from 1975 promote the new Embar­cadero Center in San Francisco.

Maybe, when I have more time, I can go back to scan and show even just a part of the 107 Nic Sidjakov’s ADASF accepted entries mentioned above.

Ann Thompson

Comments, Corrections and more about Y&R.

Follow-up To Previous Post:
Here are a few of the many comments to our previous “Herb & Hal” posting:

Wasn’t Herb married to Barbra Bradley of the Academy of Art at some point?? Bruce Hettema

My reply to Bruce:
Barbara was born in Los Angeles, but spent most of her child­hood in San Fran­cisco. She grad­u­ated from Lowell High School in San Fran­cisco and then attended the Univer­sity of Cali­fornia, Berkeley, where she met her first husband Herbert Briggs (a fellow artist) while drawing for the rally committee. Herb and Barbara studied at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles before setting off for New York to begin their careers.

Lee Riney’s story about Herb in the elevator wasn’t at FCB, it was at Y&R. And I was one of the guys that was with the crew that taped Herb and put him in the elevator.
Dave Sanchez

(A reply me to forward to Dave from Lee Riney)
Yes, it was defi­nitely Young & Rubicam. I worked there for five years when I left Foote Cone. I should have made that clear in my story. Please send my email on to Dave Sanchez.
Thanks, Ann.
Lee Riney

Thanks Ann. Herb was pretty drunk, so he didn’t fight. I think he was in the elevator into the evening.
I have fun memo­ries of Herb, most are the insane memo­ries. He sure was a char­acter, I wish there were more.
Dave Sanchez

Bringing this up to date, I asked Dave Sanchez who guessed that “The Elevator Caper” was in 1961 or 1962. He said Herb left Y & R after 1962.

I called Jack Allen:
Jack explained that the client of Y&R was Petri Wines – – so I’m guessing that there were a lot of samples there to inspire the agency folks (after hours?). Jack said that his two hires were there: Dave Sanchez and Mik Kita­gawa. Alan Lefkort was also there, also. He was their “father figure”.
I called Alan who accepted that title.
I remember the brand, Petri.

I saw that it was estab­lished with barrel wines in 1886 by Raffaello Petri in San Fran­cisco — with vine­yards in the San Joaquin Valley. As “prohi­bi­tion” became the law, the stock for 250,000 gallons of barrel wines were sold to pay for Petri’s new prod­ucts — including Italian leather goods and cigars. At the end of “prohi­bi­tion” it was back to selling wines, this time bottled as well — contracting In 1935 with E & J Gallo. When Petri bought Italian Swiss Colony Wines in 1953 — Petri became the largest wine producer in the USA.

The company also estab­lished United Vintners.
This ad was shown in the10th Annual Art Direc­tors Exhi­bi­tion of 1958.

Ann Thompson

Herb Briggs Story – Hal Riney’s Storyboard

By Lee Riney

Lee Riney photo

When I came to San Fran­cisco from the Midwest in the ‘60s, I didn’t know what an adver­tising agency was. Somehow, I’ve forgotten how, I ended up as a secre­tary at Foote Cone & Belding. It was my first job.

I soon discov­ered that my favorite office on the 18th floor of the Russ Building was Herb Briggs’ office. His walls were covered with sheets of illus­tra­tions tacked up willy nilly. The air smelled of fixa­tive and chalk. It was a jumble of pencils, paint and paper. Herb could always be found there – crouched over his drawing board, pencil in hand. He could sketch anything in seconds, and the many story­boards tacked to his office walls were impres­sive, even to an untrained eye.

Herb was about 510”. He was unkempt – he needed to comb his hair and shave. Faded jeans, plaid flannel shirts and sneakers were his daily garb. Always friendly, he would growl at you in his rumbling low voice. I could under­stand only a few words, but didn’t bother to ask him to repeat himself. No one else could under­stand him either. He kept a small fridge filled with beer in his office, which was promptly opened and shared at 5PM every day.

When a client rejected a proposal, everyone was expected to stay at the office to rework all the art, all the copy. Herb didn’t go home at midnight along with the others. He took down the drapes in his office, found a couch, pulled the drapes over him and spent the night. In the morning, he looked just like he had the day before.

Everyone loved Herb. Not only because of his immense talent, but because he was so genuine – the agency staff, copy­writers, account exec­u­tives, media people, were indeed smart, witty, will – dressed and charming, but they never stopped trying to impress. Herb was just Herb.

His modest home in Mill Valley was a Sunday after­noon desti­na­tion. His wife, Pat, would greet us at the door. His son, Dan, would be sprawled in front of the TV watching Star Trek. Agency people and their friends, lovers and wives came knowing there would be large jugs of cheap wine passed around, with maybe some popcorn or chips, and excel­lent company. People sat on the floor with Herb, or sprawled on the couch. There was spir­ited conver­sa­tion on every possible subject except work. All arrived and left with little fuss, perhaps a “See you tomorrow”.

The creative section of the agency – the copy­writers and artists – spent a great deal of time thinking up pranks. Any secre­tary who went down the hall to the creative depart­ment, always watched care­fully before passing doorway. Fixa­tive that could be lighted with a match and projected into the hall like a flamethrower was a favorite weapon to be use on passing secre­taries. We hardly looked up from our type­writers when we heard screams. Herb never failed to call his good friend, Mik Kita­gawa, on Pearl Harbor Day, rail at him about the Japanese attack, and hang up without iden­ti­fying himself. One memo­rable day, several of the creative staff got together, duct taped Herb to a desk chair, rolled him to the elevator, left him inside to be seen by everyone, and pressed the “down” button. This lasted tor at least 10 minutes. We gath­ered around the elevator door, laughing and shouting encour­age­ment to Herb when the elevator opened at our floor; waving when the doors closed.

Herb was a Scot, and once in a while, to everyone’s delight, he would put on his kilts and march thor­ough the office playing his bagpipe. If a client was visiting, so be it.

Later in his career, Herb worked for my husband, Hal Riney.

Hal Riney was renowned for never giving anyone a compli­ment of any kind. If Hal found work accept­able, the best anyone could hope for was a grunt and a nod. Herb had a framed story­board hung in his den. At the bottom of the page Hal had written “Not Bad” and signed it. Anyone who knew them both, understood.

(Notes: Read more about Herb? Go to: The Prince Of Pranksters By Todd Miller 
I could find no photos of Herb Briggs.
I received this, below, from Tim Price – that shows a Hal Riney Storyboard.
Ann Thompson)

It’s a Xerox copy of one of the Riney Rulers. Hal didn’t do shooting boards, instead he drew out these exacting – to the second– graphs in which every scene, all dialogue is precisely laid out. I think that’s why Hal once told me, “We use Mr. Pytka (director) mainly as a cameraman.”

Yep, Herb worked for Hal at the same time I did, Bots­ford Ketchum days.
I knew Herb, got no photos.
Tim Price

Pink Pearl” and More Art Supplies

Pink Pearl Eraser

In the previous post, Bill Stewart’s “Pink Pearl” eraser was there among his art supplies. That brand of eraser was not just an art tool it was used by all. I got curious about its origin and found — the science!
On June 17, 2019, Ray Hahn wrote this: (Search: Bottle Caps and Pink Pearl Erasers)
The Eber­hard Faber Company opened America’s first pencil factory in New York City in 1861 on a plot of land now occu­pied by the United Nations. It is uncer­tain when the eraser was invented, but in general terms, Joseph Priestly (the same man who discov­ered Oxygen) is frequently given credit for the eraser.
The history of the Pink Pearl eraser is much better docu­mented. It was invented in 1848 in Germany when Eber­hard Faber’s grand­fa­ther, Casper, decided that a new method of erasing wayward graphite marks (not, lead) might be achieved by using rubber. Erasers have been an impor­tant piece of writing history, but the pencil and the eraser were at first, two different tools. It was Faber who first added erasers to his pencils and he did so some­time after a new factory was built in the Green­point section of Brooklyn in 1872.
The magic ingre­dient in the Pink Pearl is volcanic ash from Italy. When mixed with rubber, it is the pumice in the ash that gives the eraser its unique smell. Unlike poorly formu­lated erasers that loosen and remove paper fibers, the Pink Pearl erases by cleaning the surface. It is elemen­tary science, which demon­strates that erasers don’t just work manu­ally; they also work chem­i­cally. ?Pencils work because, when they are put to paper, their graphite mingles with the fiber parti­cles in the paper. Erasers work because the poly­mers that are used in manu­fac­turing them are stickier than the parti­cles of paper. It’s that simple, graphite parti­cles end up getting stuck to the eraser instead of the paper. Erasers are liter­ally sticky graphite magnets. (This article appeared in an earlier form in the South Jersey Post­card Club’s McClin­tock Letter of October 2014, page 6.)
And More Art Tools

I have contributed photos of a lot of my old art tools to the “Museum of Lost Art Supplies” as we show in the column on the left under “Places We Like”. This is still a great collec­tion to look over.
Recently with the extra time and a few items still to send in – I found that the site was not respon­sive in accepting addi­tional items. After several attempts, I reached Lou Brooks.

Lou wrote:
Hey, Hi Ann! Sorry it took a while to get back to you. Lots of changes. Clare and I moved to McMin­nville Oregon almost a year ago, and we’re still chasing our own tails to catch up. Now, the CO-VID! But on we all go. My orig­inal provider has made it diffi­cult to get the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies site to do us much good these days. I value your contribs and friend­ship, Ann, and strongly request you sign up on FB for my Forgotten Art Supplies Forum Pushing 4,000 enthu­si­astic members and climbing. With stellar results… tons of post­ings, and plenty of back and forth helpful dialog. All seem to enjoy it immensely. I enjoy you posts, and would love to see your stuff up there.
Just sign up and I’ll put you right in.
Lou Brooks

I don’t do Face­book but I slipped my collectible into Richard’s FB account —to place these two exam­ples with my written descrip­tion. It went up quickly on the “Forgotten Art Supplies Forum”. I was surprised as I received twelve comments about my submis­sion. Lou Brook’s new Face­book collec­tion shows items that are in addi­tion than those on his previous site.

(We are keeping the orig­inal “Museum” on this site. It is still inter­ac­tive for viewing the exten­sive collec­tions but it doesn’t accept new addi­tions.) Or use this link.

I’ve thought of another subject – the Flo-master felt tip pen and its ink.
This attrac­tive felt-tip pen could be filled and re-filled. It was avail­able before Magic Markers and other markers appeared in art stores.

The beauty of this pen was that I could control the wet or dryness of the strokes to the paper. As you pressed the felt tip a few times to a surface, ink would flow into it. When the felt tip became partially dry, subtle shading was possible. I used it often in life drawing classes and I carried it when sketching outdoors.
This sketch, above, I made on a land­scape sketching field trip in the summer of 1961 – a summer class at the Academy of Art (founded in 1929 by Richard S. Stephens) Mr. Stephens was leading us there on SF’s Tele­graph Hill. At the end of class, all were invited to a coffee shop (where Scoma’s Restau­rant is now) —where “Pappy Stephens” held court.

I mentioned the pen to Bill Stewart and I was surprised that he, too, remem­bered it as a favorite tool.
Bill Stewart wrote:
I was going to send a Pix of a Flo-Master Pen. A pre Magic Marker refill­able felt pen. When I was a student, Robert Fawcett gave a lecture. Of course, everyone wanted to know what he used for his beau­tiful, powerful illus­tra­tions. He said a Flo-master pen. After that, all the art supply stores sold out of Flo-masters. Actu­ally Flo-masters were orig­i­nally intended for use as sign markers in the retail stores. Later, a tool for NYC subway taggers.

This was my SF office/studio room —with lovely “North light”! (1 Lombard Street, where Battery Street met the Embar­cadero.) On November 6, 1997, I dragged my chairs, drawing board, lamps, two file cabi­nets and all of my art supplies —home.
Art supplies that I was sure I was going to need.
Now, I need to send photos of the last of my collec­tion of art tools— to the “Forgotten Art Supplies Forum”.

Ann Thompson


Oddments from the files of an AD’s log book.

I was working for Bots­ford, Constan­tine and McCarty, soon to become Bots­ford, Ketchum. We just moved into a building near Market Street. I think it was called The Jones bldg. but not sure. The time was around 1968ish. I think we were at this new loca­tion for about three or four months and we were getting comfort­able with new spaces. We were located on the 8th or 9th floor as I remember it. On a Friday after­noon about 4:30 everyone was winding down for the weekend. The art direc­tors we’re putting away their Magic Markers scat­tered all over in their office along with ellipse guides, numerous trian­gles, French curves, T‑squares and all the other “stuff” that proclaimed them as art direc­tors. Without the stuff, you ain’t no art director. If you didn’t have the stuff, they would call you a creative director or an account guy some­thing. (One time a writer came into the art depart­ment and said, “The only reason you guys have a job as art direc­tors is because you have all the STUFF”)… and looking back, I think he might have been right.

The illus­trator that did the sketch was Dick Brown In Seattle. I really liked his work, nice and loose. He caught the char­acter of each person really well. I noticed everyone ended up with huge hands, however. I guess that was kind of his style.

Anyway, as I was finishing the orga­ni­za­tion process, Brian Barnes walks into my office and points to a salmon fishing pole I had been using for a prop for an Olympia Beer photo. He asks, how do you cast with those level-wind reels? I said, you just need to keep your thumb over the line as the reel is spin­ning while the line is playing out. When the bait is near the water, you stop the spin with your thumb so you don’t get a back­lash of line if the reel is still spin­ning. Well, it was late Friday so I said, here, I’ll give you a demon­stra­tion. Open the window. (We had really big windows that you could still open). I put a Pink Pearl eraser on the end of the line for a little weight and cast it out the window. The line sailed out over the street below in a beau­tiful arc and I stopped the reel with my thumb. The Pink Pearl stopped mid air and grace­fully swung back and bounced off the building wall for another show of ballet like motion. That was impres­sive but it needed just a little more weight to show Brian how a proper cast really looks. We asked the guys who were loitering near my office if they had anything for a weight and they came up with a plastic chicken from a BBQ display sample for Olympia Beer. A little large but the right weight. We fixed the line to the plastic chicken and cast again. The chicken flew straight and true and was soaring high above the busy street below. A beau­tiful sight to see. A chicken flying high over Wells Fargo for a few seconds and then slowly arcing down to take on the speed of some­thing that resem­bled a raptor. The chicken/raptor swung back to hit the building wall and again bounce back for a final show of aero­batics. Now, the last cast was so good, much more line was released and the chicken was now very low above the busy side­walk. I would esti­mate it to be maybe about 4 to 8 feet above the people below. The clear fishing line was almost invis­ible and now it appears like this BBQ’d plastic chicken is levi­tating just a few feet above all the pedes­trians… but no one notices. Quite a sight. As we were reeling up the chicken, someone in one of offices below had an umbrella out the window, trying to snag the chicken but we success­fully avoided the kidnap attempt and retrieved the chicken. At that point it became more than just a lesson in casting so we wrote a note on a post-it that stated “PLEASE IGNORE THE CHICKEN.” We care­fully lowered the chicken back to the kidnapers window, the umbrella came out again and the chicken was rudely was pulled inside. Well, we just lost our chicken. They didn’t ignore it as instructed. After a few minutes the line was released with a new note attached. We reeled it back up and the note read: “WHAT CHICKEN ?” The next day Herb Caen wrote in his column about a levi­tating chicken of unknown origin was spotted across from Wells Fargo. I kept the article but lost it years ago. Maybe I can find it in the Chron.‘s archive sometime.

Bill Stewart