A visit to Albert Dorne

This story ran orig­i­nally in Todays Inspi­ra­tion.

This expe­ri­ence occurred around 1946 – 47-​I was just back from the Army in Europe and enrolled at Pratt Insti­tute. I had the chutzpah to call Albert Dorne to request a visit. He was very kind and invited me to his studio located in mid town Manhattan. It boggled my mind and though I can’t remember the details I shall never forget upon entering the studio, in the foyer were dozens of beau­tiful framed works of many of the famous artists of the time. The actual studio was huge and luxu­rious with a large skylight, more framed pictures, a pool table, a large tabouret and drawing board. He was extremely gracious and kind when I showed him my port­folio and generous in his crit­i­cism and advice. At one point a gorgeous blonde lady came in and he intro­duced her to me. I can’t remember if she was his wife, friend or model. All I could think was that this was the life ! (I learned recently that she was a good friend who handled his finan­cial affairs). Mr Dorne was a giant in the industry and a wonderful person to take the time for a young­ster.

Best regards

Dave Broad

Calendar Girl

Calendar Girl
by Tom Watson

A once in a life­time assign­ment that exceeded my expec­ta­tions started with a concept presen­ta­tion to Seatrain Ship­ping Company. Seatrain was not unlike many Indus­trial accounts that I worked on in my career. It wasn’t a bad account, but not partic­u­larly stim­u­lating with creative oppor­tu­ni­ties. Well, not until they agreed to have me create and produce a Pin Up Calendar for the coming year. By the 1970s’ and pin up calen­dars were virtu­ally a thing of the past. However, beau­tiful sexy ladies are never a thing of the past, and the client wanted his logo to be seen by his customers all year long.

Seatrain shipped cargo every­where, but for the calendar we focused on just the United States. I chose 12 loca­tions which would become the theme for each month of the year. For example, I used the Statue of Liberty as an East Coast loca­tion for one month, a Midwest Corn­field loca­tion for another month, and the next month it was Hawaii, and so on.

One of the more diffi­cult tasks was selecting 12 beau­tiful models over several days of exhausting (?) inter­views.. yuk, yuk. Well, the exhausting part was trying to narrow it down to only 12 gorgeous ladies. Part of the proposal to the client was to keep the total budget rela­tively low. That meant using photog­raphy (illus­tra­tion would require more time and a bigger budget, although, that would have been my pref­er­ence) and most impor­tant, we had to eleme­nate travel expenses. I had heard of rear view projec­tion from 35 mm slides for a back­ground scene, but never used it before. So, I did some research and selected 12 familiar scenic slides from various photo morgues. Jim Blakely was recom­mended to me, since he had expe­ri­ence working on Playboy Club photo assign­ments for most of their S.F. promo­tion. I had to twist Jim’s arm a little, but he finally agreed to take on the assign­ment as a char­i­table gesture, and a gallant display of his human­i­tarian side. Well, that might be a slight exag­ger­a­tion.

Seatrain wanted the calendar girls to be sexy but not erotic or raunchy, so we (well, the client) decided we should subtly cover up the “bare essen­tials.” Each scene and model would be char­ac­ter­istic of a general region of the U.S., and each model would have one or more props with the Seatrain logo in plain view. For example, one month the model was wearing just a thin wet unbut­toned beach shirt and a bikini bottom, holding a large conch shell to her ear, and a coastal beach scene projected in the back­ground. The conch shell had the Seatrain logo painted on it. We used a fan to add the effect of a sea breeze. As much as I would have liked to have photographed at the real loca­tions, we had complete control in the studio, espe­cially with the lighting. Bad weather was not a concern, nor any other unpre­dicted prob­lems that some­times appear on loca­tion shooting . And, using rear view projec­tion, really looked like they were shot on loca­tion.

One of my models was Suzanne Somers, whom several years earlier had a bit part as the pretty blonde in the T-​Bird in the movie “Amer­ican Graf­fiti,” and later became a star in the hit TV series “Three’s Company.” She was about 27 when she modeled for the calendar, and she had modeled for me a few times before.

While preparing for the morning shoot in the studio, I knocked on Suzanne’s dressing room door and she responded, “Come in. I want to show you some­thing.” As I stepped in, I was busy looking at my notes for the upcoming shoot, and began explaining how I wanted her posi­tioned. When I looked up, she was sitting at the mirror applying her makeup, and to my aston­ish­ment, she was wearing nothing from the waist up. I gulped and eluci­dated with utmost sincerity, “Oops, Sorry Suzanne, I didn’t know you weren’t dressed,” and started to leave. She quickly replied, “Wait, it’s okay. I brought three halter tops to try on for you,” as she held up a shop­ping bag. I tried to act unphazed, but I doubt that I pulled it off. Strug­gling to gather my composer, I blurted out, “Great, I would like to see them,” imme­di­ately thinking, yikes!, what a poor choice of words ! Showing no discom­fort, she spon­ta­neously tried on each halter top, and of course, they all looked terrific on her. I under­stand­ably pondered over which halter top I would use in the photo.. another tough deci­sion. As much as Jim would have been willing to help me make this diffi­cult choice, I knew his first priority was setting up his equip­ment for the day’s shooting, so I thought it best not to disturb him.

Well, Suzanne was perfect as she posed on a bicycle with her care­fully selected halter top, a pair of very short shorts and tennis shoes, as the breeze from the fan softly ruffled her long blonde hair. The back­ground was a view of El Capitan in Yosemite. Jim did a fine job behind the camera, and all the models were ideal. Suzanne modeled for me later, on several more assign­ments before moving on to fame and fortune. She was an excel­lent model with an infec­tious smile, sparkling blue eyes and always a good sport. That was the only pin up calendar I did in my career, and one of the most enjoy­ably assign­ments, as you may have guessed !

In The Pink

Norm Nicholson

In the 1960’s I was fortu­nate to land a nice illus­tra­tion commis­sion from Young & Rubicam. It entailed a series of full page illus­tra­tions for Kaiser Aluminum that appeared in Fortune maga­zine, Busi­ness Week and other publi­ca­tions. Each ad consisted of three pages. The first page was solid black with a die cut and small bit of copy under­neath giving you a small glimpse of the illus­tra­tion on the third page. The die cut was over a vivid pink sky I had painted in the illustration,which happened to be a picture of a heli­copter flying over very rough terrain bringing a fully assem­bled aluminum trans­mis­sion tower to its perma­nent site. With in the illus­tra­tion I chose to paint a hot pink sky for visual impact. I thought I could get away with it. Upon delivery of my art to Y&R, I was confronted by one account exec reviewing my illus­tra­tion. ”Wow” was his remark. “Why the pink sky?” “For visual impact” was my response.” Yeah but skies are blue” he said with a very serious tone to his voice “We will let let you know if they approve it”

Previ­ously I had been told by Don Sternloff a creative director at Y&R that Henry Kaiser himself viewed and approved all corpo­rate iden­tity ads. Two days later I received a phone call from the agency ”Henry Kaiser loved the illus­tra­tion pink sky and all” I was told. ”I knew he would like it” I responded” “What made you so sure?” I was asked. Having worked at Kaiser Graphic Arts right out of Art Center College, before opening my studio in San Fran­cisco, I was aware of Kaisers affinity for the color pink. I told the caller from Y&R all of Henry Kaiser’s Perme­nente Cement trucks in Cali­fornia were painted a hot pink. On another occas­sion I viewed an article in Archi­tec­tual Digest Magizine about Henry Kaisers home in Hawaii as well as a suite of rooms he kept at the Fair­mount Hotel. The color PINK was domi­nate in the décor.

So when it came to painting the sky pink in my illus­tra­tion, not only was pink used for visual impact, I thought how could I miss with Kaiser’s taste for PINK !

Thanksgiving Print

Todd Miller

We were presenting a “Thanks­giving print adver­tise­ment” to the client, Pacific, Gas & Elec­tric Company. I forget the head­line, but the black & white illus­tra­tion showed a drawing of a turkey talking to a pig. A cartoon dialogue balloon pointing to the pig said, “I’m glad it’s you and not me.” The turkey was seen to reply, “Wait until Easter.…you’ll get yours”.

The client read the print ad and, with great business-​like authority, he spoke, “We can’t do this. Pigs don’t talk to turkeys, and turkeys don’t talk to pigs.… pigs talk to other pigs and turkeys talk to other turkeys. I tried to keep from laughing. Speech­less I just nodded in agree­ment. (I knew the client was mistaken because some­time in the mid-1960’s, I’m sure I heard my narrow-​minded dog laughing and making surely comments to my cat, who I had just tie-​dyed a lovely red, green and purple).

Peace on Earth with Chevron.

Todd Miller

One day in the 1970’s (during the Vietnam War and “Cold War” years), we were presenting an outdoor bill­board (remember those) to the lovable Director of Marketing Herb Hammerman at Chevron. Our creative achieve­ment was designed to promote Chevron’s friendly nature toward the Christmas Season. Because it was for Mr. Hammerman, we kept it as simple as possible (“how can he find anything wrong with this”, we surmised).

Mr. Hammerman looked at the Bill­board design, which simply declared, PEACE ON EARTH Chevron. He said seri­ously, in his lyrical southern accent, “This will never do. ‘Peace” is a Commu­nist word”.