Steve Rustad Has Tales To Tell
Steve Rustad Has Tales To Tell & Also Great Advice For A Young Illustrator (And For The June Graduate)!
I'm "still in the game." And will continue to be until the pry my Cintiq tablet from my cold, dead hands.
Regarding my ad days. Because I preceded by stint in advertising working educational films, most of what I did in the agencies were TV spots. At J. Walter Thompson and I worked under Mac Churchill who (I thought) was a certifiable genius. And a true Mad Man, though his roots were in the Chicago ad scene. Mac's legendary lunch regimen was a flock of double vodka martinis. The effects of which were never apparent in the afternoon - unlike most of the other JWT management at the time. (My opinion, don't quote me.) I'm not sure that my agency story is all that unique, or interesting. It was a crappy time for agencies in general, perhaps because it was the run-up to the agency merger frenzy of the 1980's fueled by the Brits, which I believe drove a stake into the heart of creative advertising. Unlike most creative managers of my acquaintance I worked very hard to support and promote my creative teams which earned me (for the most part) their undying contempt. As for the advertising luminaries that I encountered back then (Riney, Jay Chiat, Bob Hulme. Mike Koelker, Rich Silverstein, etc.) I'm sure I left no lasting impression.
I did these while at Ketchum in the late 70's working under Bruce Campbell:
I also did some print at JWT. I've attached some ads for Chevron and Dole and Hewlett Packard.
About a decade before I worked in advertising, I was a Federal Sky Marshal guarding flights out of SFO to points west, e.g., the Far East.
This photo shows me in the uniform of a US Customs Security Officer - my official job when I wasn't flying undercover.
Fast forward to 2007 I decided to recount some of my "adventures" in a blog, which I continued to post content to, on and off, for the next 5 years.
If you like, please check it out, click here Sky Marshal Story - Night Flight to SFO - #31
As a Sky Marshal (aka Air Marshal) assigned to PanAm from early 1971 to the fall of 1972, I conducted most of my in-flight security duties aboard the Boeing 747. At the time, I didn’t realize how revolutionary the 747 was.??The 60’s boom in air travel had created a major traffic jam at the country’s airports as the 707’s and Douglas DC8’s jostled for space at the jet ways. As a remedy, Juan Trippe, Panama’s legendary Founder and President, pushed Boeing to create a plane at least twice the size of the 707. In response Boeing produced the 747-100 or Jumbo Jet. It’s said that PanAm's influence as a “launch customer,” and the company’s hand in the design even before they placed their formal order, allowed Trippe to influence the development of the 747 in ways never seen before or since in the history of commercial aircraft. PanAm inaugurated 747 Jumbo Jet service in 1970. At 2.5 times the size of a 707, the wide body featured eight-across seating. The cockpit was on an upper deck, behind which was a “lounge,” for lack of a better word. The upped deck was accessed by a circular staircase – really a curved ladder – that looked like it had been yanked out of in artist’s studio in Soho. The powers-that-were decided to increase the teams of Sky Marshals assigned to 747 to three members, whereas 707’s and other “narrow-body” craft warranted teams of two. Usually two Marshals sat in First Class. The poor sap who drew the short straw sat way in the back of the cabin. Of the two Marshals who got to mingle with the carriage trade in First Class, one was required to sit at the foot of the spiral staircase. Since there were no assigned seats in the upper deck lounge we couldn’t position ourselves up there without blowing “our cover.” Yet, protocol required that no passenger was to visit the lounge without a Sky Marshal to keep him or her company. Any passenger who was hip to that knew exactly who was following them up the stairs. Most of flights I guarded over my tour of duty were a half to three-quarters full and – at least in first class – that left ample room to stretch your legs. However, I remember one flight where the increased capacity of the 747 was put to the test. The flight to SFO lifted off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo sometime after 10PM packed to the gills with men, women, children and babies. The cabin of the plane felt like a subway at rush hour. As a Sky Marshal, I’d never worked a flight where every seat was full. For the first half dozen hours everything was pretty normal. It was late, the cabin lights were dim and most of the passengers were snoozing. But as the evening dissolved into morning and folks began to stir, they did what most folks to when the first wake up…they went to the bathroom. Had they chosen to space the visits out, the plumbing might have handled the onslaught, but it seemed like everyone went, or wanted to go, all at the same time. In short order, the bathrooms began to fail, one after the other, until two long lines of fidgety passengers packed the two aisles leading to the last functioning bathroom in the back of Coach. It was so congested that the Marshal who had been positioned in the back had to work his way forward to the central galley just so that he could have some freedom of movement. Though the First Class bathrooms remained functional, airline rules forbade passengers from migrating past the bulkhead that separated the two sections. Then a woman with a sick baby burst through the curtains and headed for one of the First Class bathrooms with such fierce intention that she was virtually dragging in her wake the near-hysterical stewardess who had been trying in vain to explain the rules to her. Well, the sight of this determined woman breaching the sacred curtain of First Class broke the dam, as it were. Soon the aisles in First Class were also jammed with folks hopping from one to foot to the other. In the beginning, none of the Coach passengers who had stormed the bastion of privilege were aware of the bathroom on the upper deck but I knew it would be only a matter of time. Since the door to the upper deck bathroom was directly adjacent to the cockpit door, a scrum of passengers clustered in the upper deck lounge presented a security nightmare so I decamped from my seat at the base of the staircase to the lounge where I sacrificed my cover to spend the remainder of the flight standing sentry-like in front of the cockpit door. Interestingly, not one person that night asked me if I was a Sky Marshal.
© Stephen Rustad, 2008
These days, I’m working mostly in social media for a national food company. We have a sub-brand of sorts, Spoiled To Perfection (a video series) that discusses Fermented Foods, a hot topic among both foodies and Millennials This episode (from 2016) features some local (Sonoma County) talent in brewing:
When I have time I blog on my Rustad Marketing website (www.rustadmarketing.com) about topics I think might be relevant to folks interested in contemporary advertising issues and trends. Here’s one I wrote after a dinner with my daughter, who was soon to graduate from college and was fretting about her future.
Advice for A Young Illustrator
Some years ago, I had dinner with my daughter who, in my expert* opinion, is an exceptionally talented illustrator. After dessert, she confessed to me her concern that there wasn’t a place for her in the world of professional illustrators. I remember feeling exactly the same way when I graduated from college, nearly 50 years ago, and faced a bleak job market. Looking back over a professional career that has spanned more than 45 years (and counting), I want to offer my daughter, and others like her, some wisdom about seeking a career in what seems to be an overcrowded field with no obvious points of entry.
When I was first making the rounds as a young man entering the work world I received a profound tip about job hunting that proved to be true for me and many others: There is always a place for someone with talent, intelligence, a desire to work hard and – most important of all – a fresh approach to his or her craft.
Other qualities define my daughter: she has an unquenchable passion to create art of all kinds, and her work sparkles with intelligence, wit and a unique style. Coupled with her talent, these qualities complete the trifecta necessary to succeed as an illustrator.
So, how does my daughter and others like her find a place in a world crowded with talented, hardworking young men and women?
To begin, everyone who wants to sell their services, whether as a freelancer or a prospective employee, needs to view themselves from the point of view of the consumer. This is exactly the same advice I give to any marketer of a product or service. Don’t make the mistake of viewing the world from inside the bubble of self-awareness. In politics, this is called the echo chamber where all you hear is what you say. Businesses who behave this way are, “legends within their own walls.”
Any honest marketing effort starts by facing the hard truth that the great majority of potential customers don’t know who you are, and aren’t looking for you. Few people walk around thinking to themselves, “Who don’t I know that I should know”. The purpose of marketing is to change this. For the sake of simplicity I’ve boiled marketing communications down to three essential, sequential, components: awareness, relevance and action.
Awareness, means that as many people as possible, not just potential customers, have to encounter a memorable message about you. For a young person just starting out, awareness begins with friends and family – sharing projects and samples through broad reach social media such Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. A website is essential, and platforms such as Squarespace are virtually free.
Relevance, that is establishing a connection with a potential customer or employer, is achieved by populating your website and social media with projects and concepts that reflect current culture, trends, activities and passions – yours as well as others. Popular topics such as food, fashion, travel, movies and technology provide ample opportunity to demonstrate your intelligence, humor and creativity.
Action, which can range from a prospect or customer returning a message to offering a job, is the result of effective marketing. Common factors that lead to action – assuming that awareness and relevance have been established – are passion, preparation and persistence. Of course, you can’t discount luck. Still, as the saying goes, “Fortune favors the prepared.” One reason this maxim rings true is because two crucial elements of preparation are passion and persistence. (A voice from the back of room heckles, “What about quality, expertise, experience and skill?” In the service of brevity, let’s agree that these are all part of preparation, as well.)
Finally – and here’s the clincher – our aspiring artist must clearly demonstrate a unique style. I see many artists who have talent, skill and appear to be hardworking but the portfolios appear interchangeable. Some of this is perhaps the product of working (or aspiring to work) in a “creative factory” (think Disney or Pixar) where a corporate style or “look” influences the art.
To wrap up, perhaps the most direct answer to the question, “Is there a place for me in the world?” is “Yes, once you give people a chance to discover your unique, original, voice.” Before Apple introduced the iPhone no one knew they needed a hand-held, flat-screen monitor that connected to the Internet. Afterwards, they couldn’t live without one.
If you're interested in knowing more about my daughter, here's the link to her website click here:
Painter to Graphics to Painter
Ward Schumaker’s Bio: Painter to Graphics to Painter
By the time I was six I knew I would become a painter. But in 1965, at the age of 22, I entered a competition put on by the governor of Nebraska (my home state) and after judges awarded me first place, the governor went crazy, called my entry “filthy and disgusting” and threatened me with prosecution for creating pornography. I quit painting, moved to California, and became a paper salesman.
And I might have remained a paper salesman my whole long life except that I also became a father. How could I tell my son I was a paper salesman? Not that there’s anything wrong with that — unless you realized you’d been created to paint. So, without knowing anything about design, I started doing paste-ups for designers (Fetzer-Conover) and ended up working for Snoopy at Determined Productions.
In 1978, 35 years old, I quit. I rented a desk from Corporate Graphics and began illustrating.
Rapidograph dots was my specialty and on my first day out, I got my first editorial work: Rich Silverstein at San Francisco Magazine: 40 hours, $40; as well as the cover of Coppola’s City magazine: same price. The next week Mik Kitigawa gave me my first commercial job (a jug of milk): 40 hours, $1000. This seemed pretty good! It was not quite what I wanted to do, not my taste, but it sure beat paper sales.
Seven years later Linda Hinrichs asked me to do drawings for Dole Mushrooms; she wanted them done in pencil and done loosely, like a sketch book: right up my alley! From then on I kept getting work closer and closer to my desires. FedExpress arrived, enabling me to work on the East Coast; then emails opened up Europe and Japan. I began creating illustrations for the NYTimes, Gourmet, the Boston Globe; as well as Le Figaro, Hermès and Playboy Japan.
Note: Above is *my personal collection of Ward Schumaker’s early art styles (which I gathered and saved as I followed Ward’s successful entry into San Francisco’s graphic community. Some of these show their age and I have noted the years that they appeared in publications here in the San Francisco Bay region. The years show at the bottom of each image when they were published. (Self-promotions of the1970s and assignments from 1982 to 2008.)
Ward has said that he is surprised that I have this small collection (of his extensive early work). I met Ward as he called on our art studio, representing Carpenter-Offutt Paper and as he started creating commercial art, I became a fan of his unlimited original styles.
1‑adam.eve.snake: illustration for book, God’s Femur. Client: S F Center for the Book
2‑asleep: illustration for book, The Art of Being a Woman. Client: Potter
3‑au.chat.agile: illustration for book Two Kitchens in Provence. Client: Yolla Bolly Press
4‑Bark.Magazine: illustration for article on dogs. Client: Bark Magazine
5‑black.dance: cover illustration for Datebook. Client: San Francisco Chronicle
6‑charitybiz: cover of book, Charity Biz. Client: Payot
7‑circus: cover of book, Sing a Song of Circus. Client: Chronicle Books
8‑columbus.bakery: logo for bakery café. Client: Columbus Bakery
9‑Dix.Jours: cover for book, Dix Jours dans Les Collines. Client: Rivages
10-esquire.japan: cover for magazine featuring Northern California. Client: Esquire Japan
11-hemispheres.cover: cover for inflight magazine. Client: United Airlines
12-hermes: catalog for the press. Client: Hermès
13-in.my.garden: cover of Japanese children’s book, In My Garden. Client: Chronicle Books
14-Japanese.Cultural: illustration for brochure. Client: S F Japanese Cultural Center
15-lagom: cardboard calligraphy. Client: Afar Magazine
16-mooses_cups: logo for San Francisco restaurant. Client: Moose’s restaurant
17-paris.bouge: calligraphy for magazine cover. Client: Le Figaro
18-reading_cat: illustration for bookmark. Client: S F Center for the Book
19-sfchronicle_anniv: calligraphic illustration for cover of the Datebook. Client: S F Chronicle
20-shrek: calligraphic illustration for Broadway play. Client: Spotco
21-wash.post.nixon: illustration for magazine. Client: Washington Post
Around year 2000 my then new wife suggested I return to painting and now that’s all I do.
You’re invited to visit my current show at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco at 16th and Potrero (until 11 May): Spyder Gears + Identity Maps. Link to: Jack Fischer Gallery Exhibition
Much of my fine art consists of large hand-painted books with hand-cut stenciled typography and recently a trade version of one – – an anti-Trump book called Hate Is What We Need – – was published by Chronicle Books. Buy it on Amazon or Chronicle’s website.
My wife, Vivienne Flesher, will be showing at Jack Fischer Gallery’s Minnesota Street Project venue, with an opening 01 June. I’d love to see you there! And my son is now a Martin Luther King, Jr., Visiting Scholar at M.I.T. He creates extraordinary, amazing computer music. I’m so proud of both of them. And at 76 years old, they make me realize what a fortunate guy I’ve been.
POP and POS
In the years shown here, “Point Of Purchase” and “Point Of Sale” were the terms to describe the many items that made products appealing, (Today the term: Point Of Sale or POS is widely defined as the process of purchasing the product or service.)
In the years of 1970 to 1975, I was able to touch on this area of marketing. From label and product designs to the promo pieces that brought attention to the product in a store setting. These assignments gave me a sense of being there, greeting the customers. (I was young.)
The A. Carlisle & Co. of San Francisco had the printing and construction equipment to develop a variety of store displays. Carlisle’s creative directors gave me — twelve assignments. Here are some examples:
Shasta: In 1889 “Shasta” was known for the waters from the Mt. Shasta, CA region.
In the years after 1931 it was developed into a ginger ale or soda and they were offered usually as a mix for alcoholic drinks. In the 1950s Shasta Cola became available in cans. Operating from their headquarters in Hayward CA, the Shasta company was a nearby client for advertising assignments.
1970 Shasta Cola, Shelf-Talker. This was an unusual idea at that time – opaque inks printed on foil, with a die-cut. This was to show along with the Shasta Cola displayed on the market shelf.
C&H Sugar: (California and Hawaiian Sugar Company) As early as 1906, ships from Hawaii were sailing into San Francisco Bay, then northeast through San Pablo Bay reaching the port of Crockett where they offloaded raw cane sugar. C&H today, produces 700,000 tons of sugar annually. C&H was a steady client for San Francisco ad agencies and printing companies.
1971 C&H Sugar Hawaii (3‑D wire hangers). Here the request was to have two “Wire-Hangers” with two different scenes on each side (one showing daytime and the other side, nighttime. Also there was a banner with the words: “LUAU LAND”
1972 C&H Sugar (Wire Hangers). I first tried other rough ideas: an egg and bunny as a folded die-cut in an egg shape – – a little bunny – – a chicken – – then two layouts preceded the final five wire-hangers.
1973-Electric & Gas Industries Association –EIGA. Originally headquartered in San Francisco, with roots from the early 1930s, EGIA began as a nonprofit membership association with the mission to help promote the sale of energy-efficient appliances for retailers throughout the state of California. EIGA is now located in Sacramento, CA.
1973: Clorox’s Liquid-plumr
“Liquid-plumr” made by Clorox with headquarters in Oakland CA, was another regional client. Not having a color Xerox in those years, I show these four examples in b/w. The one chosen was to be rendered as finished art, printed and then placed in markets near the product.
The large wine industry in California gave the Carlisle Company many opportunities of displaying a variety of displays and bins that would hold many bottles and have photographs portraying an elegant display of the wines.
1973: Inglenook wine was founded in Rutherford, California during 1879 by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain.
This Inglenook page of layouts offered the client a choice of photographic settings. The clients would choose the mood that they wanted displayed and a photographer would follow the basic “look” and be the one to choose all of the elements for the “table-top” setting. The chosen “look” is shown also.
1973: Chilean Wines. Carlisle’s client, here, might have been a company dealing mostly with wines imported into San Francisco Bay. It might have been the beginning of the San Francisco Wine Trading Company. (I have no other source.) For this assignment, we offered many choices of subjects for the “feel” of a Chilean vineyard. Two of the subjects were developed.
1973: One of California’s oldest and most renowned wineries, Geyser Peak Winery was founded in 1880 by Augustus Quitzow, a pioneer in Alexander Valley winemaking,
1974: POP concepts for imported BABYSHAM.
1973 – 1974: Annacorré. I don’t have notes on this display sheet as to who brought this job to us, nor the name of the parent winery. I cannot find any information about this wine, on line.
United Vintners Starting in 1975 I got a number of assignments from United Vintners, usually through ad agencies such as McCann Erickson. Some assignments were also for magazine ads, and posters for Guild Brandy. A “warm-up” jacket was offered.
How many ways can you offer a wood wine-rack for $22.00?
For Inglenook, these b&w copies were Magic Marker color sketches to show eleven ways to make that offer on their in-store display bins.
This other (folded) display layout was to be placed behind a collection of Inglenook bottles.
United Vintners, in those days, also had the three TJ Swann ($1.75) fruit wines: Easy Nights, Mellow Days, and After Hours. These are no longer available in markets. This “Dial a Wine” was to be attached to the refrigerated cases that held these wines. The turn of the dial to 15 descriptive sentences, would offer the suggested fruit wine for each occasion!
This was one of three strange assignments, so far in my career. (The first was the packaging of mealworms for fishing. (“Mighty Mealys” was a previous story.) The other was for a J. Walter Thompson client: Shakey’s Pizza. They planned a Christmas P.O.P. poster showing a slice of pizza with the Shakey’s logo as the star on the top. 7‑Up was an additional product to show – so bottle caps were ornaments and the 7‑Up bottle was the trunk of the tree. (I’ve tried to forget that assignment.)
Paul Masson (1859 – 1940) emigrated from Burgundy, France to California in 1878. In 1892 he developed his first sparkling wine. Masson eventually became known as the “Champagne King of California”.
Late 1970s: David Reid, creative director at Browne Vintners, planned that this poster for Paul Masson wines to be, actually, a P.O.P.!
The artist, Dick Moore, said that it was offered FREE– as a “tear-off-sheet”.
ADASF 1958 – 1971
Here is a collection of designs accepted in the annual exhibitions of the Art Directors and Artists Club of San Francisco. Point Of Purchase aka: Point Of Sale.
One might question how a large outdoor board could be a point of sale. The two “OK” boards, in the ‘70s, were place at the side of the large Chevrolet lots selling “OK” approved used cars. Too bad, that the annuals were only in black and white. (I had one color example, so I added it.
The many San Francisco Bay Area graphic artists and art studios — had steady sources of employment. Reviewing all of these examples from the few years shown, I wonder how the POP industry is operating now. Do artists still have the freedom to develop and render various choices for the client, printing shops, or ad agencies – – still with markers or what?
An Apple For The Artist
Long before an Apple Computer became one of my art tools, I was asked to create Illustrations “the old fashioned way” for the Apple IIGS Owner’s Guide (manuals are no longer offered).
Apple’s Macintosh had been introduced in 1984, yet the Apple II series of computers continued for about ten more years. When I was awarded the job on 8−26−85 my finished artwork was still accomplished with illustration boards, pens, brushes and inks. At that same time, I had my freelance and agency-in-house artist space in the Vicom Associate’s offices on Battery Street in San Francisco.
There were a couple of meetings with Apple, when I would drive down to Cupertino to plan an art style and page design and also determine my price for the job. Translating copy to art for Apple Computer’s IIGS manual, I was asked to keep my spots “light-hearted”. Everything developed smoothly and when I needed the accuracy of depicting the four Apple computers available those days, I turned to Richard Moore (freelancing from our home) to compose and create the finished detailed art of the four existing line of Apple II computers.
Apple IIGS Owner’s Guide. 1986, Apple Computer, Inc.
Concepts and Illustrations: Ann Thompson, Art Direction: Molly Tyson; additional product illustrations: Dick Moore.
Soon, more Apple II Guides were needed, but my original agency accounts in SF needed me. My contacts in Cupertino asked me “Are there any more like you at home?” and I said, “Yes” and Richard Moore completed several more manuals for them. Apple was glad that Richard set us up at home with an Apple IICX –$16,000 (at that time) including printer, scanner, (the works)! Richard’s Apple illustrations for the manuals were, for the first time, created with an Apple computer!
The Macintosh, A Better Apple Was Presented.
Apple’s Macintosh computers were being introduced and soon set up in Vicom Associates’ art department. At one point, the agency wanted to test the Macintosh’s abilities against my usual methods of making the large, 24” X 36” — presentation boards for the agency’s meetings with their various clients. The requirements: –quality of message and speed — I won, achieving both requirements!
The art department could only print letter-sized prints from their Macs. The crew in the art department had to (1‑search and choose from the limited choices of clip-art, (2‑compose the type, boxes, arrows and images, (3‑print out the document, (4‑send it out to a copy shop to make a Photostat up to display size and then (5‑wait for the b/w print and when it arrived, spray-mount it to a foam core board. I had the benefit of 1 sheet of large layout paper, full color (markers and pencils) and I could compose unlimited subjects. I often had to work through the night on those display boards that were to fly in the morning to an early meeting on the east coast. (Using the Mac, the agency would have had to keep the art crew and copy shop into the night.) My boards became known in this agency as “Annie-Boards”! When one of our art directors moved to another advertising agency, she, out of habit, asked for “Annie- Boards” to be made.”Animatics”?, “animation?”, her co-workers asked. She said that she had to describe my boards.
(Note: I don’t have the exact example from the competition, because it was shown at the planned client meeting.)
There were times that I could have asked for a Mac in my room in the agency, but there were young and eager hires ready to sit there with and art director over their shoulder, and I knew that I’d get into it on my own at home. When I did, we had an AppleIICX at home. My abilities grew as each new graphic software program became available. I experimented with all kinds of subject, yet I would keep trying subjects needed for my agency assignments.
With the earlier computers and drawing programs, drawing with a “mouse” (like a small brick) it seemed not to matter if I was left or right-handed. The very early computer line art had the large pixels. “Studio 8” offered a lot to the graphic artist, but the edges were still very rough. The Mac and the two Adobe programs: Photoshop and Illustrator offered a huge range of different qualities for different needs. These show the improvement of the graphic programs and my improvement using them.
Ten Second Manager
Around the mid ‘90s I received many assignments for Apple University (internal teaching publications). One assignment from Apple University was a pocket-sized handbook for employees — the style of the illustrations was to be “more humorous”. Following the copy that was written for the pocket sized handbook, 23 humorous illustrations were accepted.
Apple University – The Ten-Second Manager. 1996, Apple Computer, Inc.,
Copy: Molly Tyson, Design and Illustrations: Ann Thompson, Evangelism: Sherri Rose, Production & Moral Support: Ken Freehan
Internal Homepage: Apple University
The first meetings were with the title, “The Art of Management”. Many more page arrangements brought us to the next sketch that you see with the title “Apple University”. The final design is shown here on Netscape, the web browser of that time.
“Leader’s Lounge” was a link from the Homepage. The highlighted objects in the Lounge were “links” to additional pages with more written information.
Apple University’s Catalog of Services
Forty pages plus cover with 15 illustrations (mostly of them repeated from the Ten Second Manager.
These assignments, above, for Apple University were my favorites because of the amount of creative freedom they gave to me. The Mac became my favorite art tool. I’m on our iMac, now.
Jane Teiko Oka: Graphic Art To Wild Animals
Jane Teiko Oka wrote this brief timeline of her art career:
Applied for and received a working scholarship to California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, around 1954.
After one year, received full scholarship until I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree.
Accepted employment with a commercial art studio – Patterson & Hall in San Francisco.
Applied for and received a Fulbright scholarship in 1960 to study in Japan. Extended my stay (after my 10 months scholarship ended) to 1½ year, traveling within the country and visiting various studios and hand crafting companies.
Returned to San Francisco in 1962 and began my freelance career in the city.
One of my major clients – Japan Air Lines
Locally – Blum’s. San Francisco Magazine (story illustrations and cover designs).
Other areas of work:
Calendars, gift items, package design, posters, storybook illustrations, school
The Following is the collection that follows Jane’s timeline:
Around 1954, when Jane was living in San Francisco, she fulfilled her art scholarship at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (which became the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961) These are just a few of her portfolio samples.
In 1959 there was the huge assignment from the Educational Posters Co. Jane created the poster: Children Of Other Lands, 25½” x 37½”. Jane posed each of the 55 children and researched the costumes of each country. For the creatures of other lands she illustrated 22 mammals, 1 Toucan, and 5 schools of fish. Added are 3 ships. The examples below: the first image is of the full poster as offered on the web, followed by a “detail” that I have reduced from full size, to print on letter-size gloss paper. (In researching this poster, I found this additional photo of a little girl pointing to the same poster. With little difficulty, I found that this little girl is Linda Davick, now also a children’s book illustrator in San Francisco. I reached her by email and she wanted Jane to know that she loved the poster. Linda wrote: “I’m SURE Jane’s poster influenced my art career in a big way. I looked at it all the time!”)
1959 – The Bohemian Club accepted artists (only men) on the condition that they contribute their talents. Jane (and I, also) were put to the task of creating art for a club member. Here is (Jane’s) invitation to an event at the Bohemian Grove’s summer encampment. The Owl is the club’s mascot. On line, I also found this example created by Bruce Butte. I had worked for Butte, Herrero & Hyde until April 1965 and I am sure this was Bruce’s art because I also recognize Bill Hyde’s lettering.
Also shown above is this photo of Jane at the art studio: Patterson & Hall where she designed a page of the calendar that was a coöperative project of P&H’s studio and Charles R. Wood, Lithographers (which had a notable reputation for quality printing). The abstract design by Jane Oka utilized transparent and opaque colors printed on foil. The calendar was released in 1961. Jane’s book cover design for “Key To Lasting Slimness” was published in 1960.
Jane’s 10-month Fulbright Scholarship in Tokyo began with many weeks of making Sumi inks, until her talents were realized. Then she was set free to explore the local studios of arts and crafts. The examples of Jane’s on-the-spot sketches are shown below. 1962, back in San Francisco, Botsford, Constantine & Gardner found Jane’s knowledge of Japan and art style, perfect for their client: Japan Air Lines. The booklet: Japan Air Lines – Living in Japan – shows thirty of Jane’s illustrations, large and complex and small and simple. Jane also created two maps. Shown is the intricate map of Tokyo and the other map was of the routes of Japan Air Lines.
In 1965 Jane Oka moved from commercial to decorative art: Blum’s packaging designs (Blum’s was, in the 1960s, an exclusive candy-shop / luncheonette that created many “sweets” and was known for their unique packaging; tins and boxes). San Francisco Magazine, covers and story illustrations. NAVH contributions of more than 30 holiday card illustrations for the benefit of National Aid to the Visually Handicapped. Of this subject: “children of many lands”, we show just two of the series of 24 – Jane’s yearly gift to the charity. Jane created the designs for matchboxes produced in Japan.
Decorative posters: 1968 was also the beginning of her creation of posters for Portal Publications, Ltd. – the assignments extended to 1973 when the art was converted into yearly calendars. 12 Zodiac Signs, 5 Kitchen Charts, 5 Gourmet Guides, 10 Proverbs, All at: 20”x 29” (Size of the Calendar art: 13”x 16”)
Jane Oka designed all thirty-two posters, working directly with Portal Publications from 1969 and into the1970s. Some of the artwork was reprinted as calendars, so there is the additional smaller collection. Jane styled and ordered the type, researched and wrote the various copy blocks and list of ingredients, and presented Portal Publications with the paste-ups ready for printing.
Posters used as decorative props In the Woody Allen movie,” Sleeper” there was a scene where one of Jane’s Zodiac posters was used as a prop. There is a website: “The Kids in 201”, it is a blog about the TV series: “Three’s Company”. It shows two of these posters used for room props. Redbook Magazine’s “Redbook Crafts” (March 1978 issue) printed with permission from a published 1976 book: “Things To Do In A Day”. Using Jane’s “Calories” poster as a choice in decorating the project.
Posters used as yardage and other items. Without Jane or Portal Productions being aware, yardage was produced using the art from her (most popular) the12-signs Zodiac poster. A photo below shows the Zodiac yardage made into clothing. Jane says that “someone (?)” found and showed her this Playboy Magazine ad offering men’s pants – using fabric from her poster art. The San Francisco Examiner shows a comforter made of the fabric.
There were blow-up vinyl pillows of each sign, and key chains. These might have been produced by Portal Publications, or not. Jane would see her Gourmet or Kitchen posters used as décor in restaurants. And, one day, as Jane was standing on the side of a San Francisco street, a Volkswagen “Hippy” bus drove by with her Virgo poster design painted on it. She was sorry that she didn’t have a camera to record the sight. Jane has a huge collection of these posters and we are searching for a place to market them. The collection is from the printer, never removed from the boxes that were given to her as each poster was produced.
1969 to 1978 was also filled with book illustrations.
The move from graphic art to the art of wild animal care! An overlapping interest and devotion was in the care of Marin County’s wildlife. Orphaned or hurt birds and animals were her first interests, then the sea animals, at The Marine Mammal Center. In 1998, “Healers Of The Wild” was published. Jane Oka’s contributions were listed, third, on page 205 (as shown, below). Jane had served as shift supervisor for nineteen years. In 2000, Jane designed this T‑shirt for the 18th Annual “Run For The Seals” benefit and she recently donated the preliminary art and the finished art to the center for their on-sight exhibit.
The energy and determination needed for Jane Oka’s intense work-mode is still there, she is non-stop. (She does take a break, as at the 2008 Geezers’ Gathering and when she visits us.)