Sketching Structures

In 1965, my first year as a free­lance adver­tising artist, I was willing to take on any artistic assign­ment. A few times I said yes to a field of art that I was not taught. Archi­tec­ture was never my interest but one day I was driven east of Sacra­mento to do some on-location sketches of plans for a new housing complex called Eldo­rado Hills.

Had they shown me exam­ples of what they expected, I am sure I would have declined this assign­ment. I was able to accom­plish some­thing but I, and they, knew they had the wrong person. I wasn’t charging much in those days, so they paid me for what I did.

Above is my job sheet as I first began free-lancing (four years at 728 Mont­gomery Street, SF)…and this photo taken at my visit to the Dean Stone & Hugo Stec­catti Photo Studio.


In 1973, there again was an assign­ment of a struc­ture. This time I was at my drawing board and I liked the subject. That was when I illus­trated a play area for one of the first arcade video games, Pong. The client was Atari.

There were a few more assign­ments when I touched on struc­tures – – simple ones (like point of purchase store displays).

But it was many years later, when the medical adver­tising agen­cies needed exhibit areas designed for trade-shows, that I began to enjoy this corner of my work.

Often I was asked to just rough-out ideas so that the product team could meet and plan basic ideas.

For the Acti­vase® exhibit shown below, there was a virtual reality game offered. I was given no visual refer­ence. That game was also avail­able at the Embar­cadero Center, just down the street from my One Lombard loca­tion. So one evening, Richard and I walked there, signed up, donned the VR head­gear and began a compe­ti­tion. (I won.) I also made a drawing of the game room. The next day the drawing was my guide for my sketch of the inte­rior of the Acti­vase structure.

Knowing that my render­ings of these trade-show exhibits were actu­ally built, gave me a sense of being a part of a show! It would have been great to visit the final results.

Corpo­rate conven­tions were a very lucra­tive busi­ness. “Were”, because Covid-19 has closed them down. The prod­ucts exhib­ited created consumer interest and also investments.

The large conven­tion centers collected atten­dance revenue. The atten­dees brought money to hotels, restau­rants, shops, and the hospi­tality industry. Corpo­rate conven­tions timed to coin­cide with the trade-shows, extended the visits to the loca­tion for more than a one-day stay.

Now, more and more, events with large venues are begin­ning to open for public gathering.

Ann Thompson