Are You Laughing At My Art?

The work of fine art humorist,
Jeff Leedy

Portrait of the Artist as a young dog.

Jeff Leedy is recog­nized as one of the top fine art humorists in the country. Through hundreds of outdoor art festi­vals, collec­tors, numerous gallery accounts and the licensing of his images onto prod­ucts, he has built a national following. In his book “Are You Laughing At My Art?” he devotes a full page to why he is funny. It reads,

You see, God gave me this strange set of contact lenses and this is how I see life.”

Some History: One of Leedy’s life goals has been to spread laughter in the world. Because of his fun-loving connec­tion with people who come to enjoy and purchase his work, he and his wife and busi­ness partner Elaine, chose self-publishing to main­tain that special contact. In 1988 Leedy intro­duced his now-famed “Demando Cat” at the premier Sausalito Arts Festival. Cat lovers four-deep, screamed, “I must have that print — that’s my cat.”

Since then, Leedy has self-published a myriad of open and ltd. edition prints, including his best-selling signa­ture piece “Counsel Approaching the Bench”, a court­room scene depicting two shark fins heading towards the judge.

This work has had 6 incar­na­tions and 5 editions have sold out not to mention the orig­i­nals as well. “I’m having trouble keeping up with all the attor­neys they’re turning out,” Leedy quips.

Born in New York at a very early age, Leedy was enrolled by his father at age 12 at the vener­able Art Student’s League in New York City. This is where he learned how to draw anything from any angle. After getting his BFA degree at Syra­cuse Univer­sity School of Fine Art he was drawn to NYC and San Fran­cisco and spent 15 years in adver­tising where he was told, “It would be the most fun you could have with your clothes on.” He’s worked at top ad agen­cies, such as Young & Rubicam, creating TV and print campaigns and picked up a prized Clio and other awards along the way.

Y&R NYC. Art Director 1964 – 1974
HD&B. San Fran­cisco 1974 – 1978 Asso­ciate Creative Director
Won a Clio -(Straw Hat Pizza)
Cole & Weber Asso­ciate Creative Director 1985 – 1987

Free­lance illus­tra­tion 1978 – 1984
Clients: Straw Hat Pizza, Qantas, Roll, IBM, BofA, Grape Advi­sory Board

Jeff Leedy Studios ‑Fine Art Humorist 1987-
Exhib­ited at over 400 art festi­vals in 23 states
Best in Show Fairhope, AL.
Best in Drawing Sausalito Art Festival
Exhib­ited at Sausalito Art Festival (#1 show in US) for 17 years straight
Owned & Oper­ated Art That Makes You Laugh© galleries
Sausalito, CA 1998 – 2008 — Mendo­cino, CA 2003 – 2009
Published: The Check is in The Mail. (1980)
“Are You Laughing At My Art?” Sold out (2004)
“There’s A Person Inside Every Dog” (2016)
“There’s A Person Inside Every Cat”. (2016)

In 1974 he relo­cated and fell in love with Sausalito’s water­front charm. He worked at HD+B as asso­ciate creative director and then four years later, he became a free­lance illus­trator special­izing in humorous illus­tra­tion, à la New Yorker. At one point he had 5 art reps across the US.
In 1987 he won a gold medal from the NYC Society of Illus­tra­tors show Humor ‘87 out of 3300 world­wide entries. In 1989 he was an invited guest exhibitor to the pres­ti­gious House of Humour & Satire in the country that brought us yogurt: Bulgaria. It was the most amazing career expe­ri­ence for him and jet-propelled his career forward. He was becoming international.

Why Art That Makes You Laugh makes you laugh:
People who are funny don’t take classes for that. They are wired that way. Being a humorist and an artist, it was not satis­fying to just do cartoons- they’re not very artistic or painterly. And serious painting was OK but to Leedy, it did not allow his other strength, his humor, to come through. And when Leedy broke onto the art scene in 1987, he was a very unique artist who asked on his display banner, “Art You Laughing At My Art?” The public, expecting only serious art to be avail­able at art festi­vals wandered over, curious. What they saw and how they reacted was history. Leedy has in his own words, “Exposed himself at some of the best art festi­vals in the country”. The police did not seem to notice.
Jeff and his wife and supportive busi­ness partner Elaine opened their first humor gallery called Art That Makes You laugh® in 1996 on the Sausalito water­front. It became a hugely popular desti­na­tion for 12 years to tens of thou­sands of Sausalito visi­tors. In 2000 they moved their home north to the Mendo­cino Coast where they opened a second water­front gallery in the Village of Mendo­cino, which they held for another 5 years.


Jeff and his wife and bearded collie MeMe now live in Boise, which looks like their final home. Still working, still making people laugh.

Are you laughing at my art?
Well good. You look like you could use a laugh.*

Current websites:



Geezers Yearbook Page 2020

A full page of our collec­tion for 2020 is also at the top of the left column. Each year there will be these indi­vidual photos and remembrances.
Ann Thompson

1. Bob Porter (Hoefer in the 70’s.)
The photo comes from a Shasta shoot down south in the early 70’s. The director was Sid Avery. At the time, I was Jim Nelson’s Asso­ciate CD at Hoefer. I’ve been retired and painting for the last 15 years. And this year, I finally made it to artist status at the Cali­fornia Art Club. (It’s an honor that mainly that lets you pay more in dues…)
Robert Porter

2. George Hampton
Hi, Y’All!
This photo was taken last year as I was hanging my art at the Salt Traders Coastal Cooking restau­rant. After moving to Austin, Texas in 2006 where I have a studio in my home, I began painting. Around this time I was very fortu­nate to have met Jack Gilmore and Tom Kamm, expe­ri­enced restau­rant chef/managers, who asked me to hang my art in their first restau­rant, Jack Allen’s Kitchen. They have since opened 3 more Jack Allen’s and one Salt Traders Coastal Cooking restaurants…I have followed along and have not only sold my art to them but have sold paint­ings to their clien­tele. How lucky can you get!
George Hampton
(Formerly with Land­phere Studios, Bots­ford, Constan­tine & McCarty, Bots­ford Ketchum & The San Fran­cisco Chronicle)

3. Tom Peacock
No artist, but enjoyed your company while working for BM&T. Frol­icking in Cuba after retirement.
(GGNote: Tom repre­sented Blake, Moffitt & Towne (paper and printing services in San Fran­cisco as early as 1855).
Paper, type, artist, studio and printing Reps knew everyone. I envied that. And often, when calling on a studio, Tom brought a jar of honey from his own hives of bees!

4. Jed Falby
What a great gift you give us with your time machine taking us all back to our youth and those good ol’ days.
Art Director/Producer at Y&R in those great TV years 1960 – 66 with Hanley Norins Creative Director and his creative collec­tive (Steve Gordon, Mik Kita­gawa, Gerry Severson, Paul Frahm et al).
Although Y&R shipped me out of San Fran­cisco to NYC in 1966 I stayed with them in all those ‘Mad Men’ TV years ’till 1970 when I opened my TV Produc­tion Company in Paris.
Finally moved back to England in 1990 to paint (South West Academy) draw (cartoons!) and write (“Le Train de Michel” Graphic Novel).
My cartoon here was done for this year’s NY ‘Vote’ campaign with the other SF Geezers now in NYC: John Emmer­ling, Mike Slosberg,
Cheers! Jed

5. John Mattos
2 items,
#1- I’m still friends with Vic Marcelli- (art director at Vicom, and other agen­cies in SF- ) and Vic is a TOTAL geezer- so please put Vic on the list — if he asks what this is about- just tell him “John thinks you are a TOTAL GEEZER” ‑ha
#2– I have 22 pages in the Upcoming December Graphis maga­zine — natu­rally I’m quite happy about this –

Merry Christmas –

6. John Hyatt
Fresh out of Art Center School in 1967 I got my first job as an art director at Lennon and Newell Adver­tising in San Fran­cisco. Roy Gover was also an AD there at the time — he and I would trip over each other sneaking out the back door after lunch to go home and paint. Roy sold his work at the famous Vorpal Gallery and I sold a series of oils paint­ings at H.P.Corwith on Union Street. Our fine art was consid­er­ably more compelling than Lennon and Newell trade ads for Hewlett Packard elec­tronics – a few years before HP became the personal computer giant.
During a seven year stint at Wilton, Coombs and Colnett, I was fortu­nate to work with photog­ra­phers Stephen Frisch, Karl Bauer and Craig Simpson; illus­tra­tors Lowell Herrero and David Broad; designers Nicholas Sidjakov and Jerry Berman. I started a free­lance career (John​Hy​at​tIl​lus​tra​tion​.com) when I met Chris Blum at Honig, Cooper and Harrington. Chris gave me my first illus­tra­tion job – a TV story­board for Levis, animated by Duck Soup in LA.
Currently I’m selling huge paint­ings of rowboats at www​.Canyon​Drive​G​allery​.com.

7. Mort Beebe
Having photographed for clients abroad for 50 years, co-founded the Image Bank, authored five books and was loca­tion manager for five feature films and TV series…now editing my film archive of the City.
Best wish to both of you,
Mort Beebe

8. Tom Brenner
! I was a copy­writer for a total of ten years, aver­aging about 2 years per agency! The last, being BBDO, with Herb Briggs and Hal Riney. I’ve enjoyed the stories about those two. Here’s mine: It seemed that every time I took copy to Hal, he’d read it, look up and say, “Is that the best you can do?” I’d mumble, let me try again, or some­thing like that. I left BBD&O at the end of summer on the Friday before San Fran­cisco State started fall classes, where I went to get a teaching creden­tial. On my last day at the agency, people came by to say, “so long, good luck.” Hal walked by, stopped at my door, looked in, and said, “Bastard.” I took it as a compli­ment. And then Herb came by and gave me a gallon glass jar filled with oatmeal mixed in water, with a reduced copy of an ad (Don’t let Mush Die) I had done while at Dancer for Wheat Hearts. My wife and I had just bought our first house in Berkeley. The jar of mush sat on a living room book­shelf and every time I pasted it I petted it, thanking and thinking of Herb and the others in my ad life. The jar lasted for about three weeks — it exploded one night. Glass and old oatmeal was every­where! School started, ad writing ended. After writing ads, I taught 4th-6th grades in Pied­mont. And when I retired we moved up to Vashon, an island off of Seattle. I took a few Writing for Chil­dren classes and now have three published (by Candlewick) picture books (fourth one will be out soon!)— a series of AND THEN COMES —so far: HALLOWEEN, CHRISTMAS, SUMMER., and SCHOOL is next, not sure when. I have no control over that! I REALLY enjoy the Geezer Gallery you post. Even though I only know a few of those who show up, just looking at the others takes me back to the days and how I enjoyed working with the people I worked with. Each agency had a different “set’ and I remember just about every one, even those not mentioned in my posting. Even though I enjoyed teaching little kids, there was a special element about creating ads — working with an artist to solve a commer­cial charge (not sure of the right word) was exhil­a­rating! And prob­ably can’t be found in many places, well, maybe working with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates might have made the cut. But working with highly talented people made average days exciting — looking back.
Thanks for doing the Geezer Gallery.
All the best,
Tom Brenner

9. Pierre & Marian Jacot
Here is a pic of me and one of my folks throwing a party circa 1965 – 66? It’s from an Adver­tising party they threw in their first home in Mill Valley.

Mill Valley House on Lovell Avenue. Pierre just started working for an Agency. I was too young to know which. Maybe someone out there was at the party that might remember?
I wish I knew more about that party. But all the ad people and illus­tra­tors and artists, etc. that they knew at the time were there from my mom’s telling years later. ; )
I hope you get some good stuff coming in!
Michele Engel (Pierre and Marian Jacot’s daughter)

10. Tom LaPerle
1977, on the Burbank “Back Lots” shooting a Transamerica series with Marty Evens (LA).

Then some…
2003, no dead­lines, no stress, no worries, no hair… life is good.

2020, living in Oregon on the banks of the Columbia River with G‑monsters, family and a 37-ft express cruiser.

Forever (it seems)…
LaPerle Asso­ciates, 1970 – 1990.

11. Lars Melander
Hi Ann,? Thanks for all Mail. Always fun to see. Nice to see Nick Sidjakov’s face — who I knew and admired. Here above is a picture from Macy’s 1978 where I partic­i­pated in a show for Green­grass Gallery.
Here is the card from Macy’s show. I must say I was in really good company!

Here above is a picture from my latest show this year in Stock­holm. Take care and safe!?
Best from Lars

12. Diana Thewlis
Here is my latest self-portrait (in this year­book page, above) titled, ’The Inner Woman’. Loved my years as a graphic designer, product illus­trator, tech. illus­trator, and then contract general illus­trator. Espe­cially loved teaching at the Academy of Art Univer­sity. Now basi­cally retired, but painting and getting back into teaching up here in Wash­ington State. I’m going to be filmed painting a portrait in water­color for the local water­color society to be used as a fund-raiser. 
Diana Thewlis

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