A Day at the Races
Marc Ericksen’s First San Francisco Freelance Interview: A Day at the Races.
As a young illustrator, I found myself working at Artworks at 50 Gold Street in North Beach. I had graduated from Art Center in 1975, worked a year as a staff illustrator in Chicago at O’Grady Graphics at 333 Michigan Avenue. While it was a great shop, and I had appreciated all I had learned there, the weather was brutal.
After some degree of deliberation, part of which involved my working late on a deadline during a blizzard, walking at 9 PM to the Northwest Station to catch the last train to Arlington Heights Station, only to arrive to find all the locks on my ancient Alpha Romeo 4 door frozen solid. By the time I had walked a mile or two to our apartment in my street shoes, Levis, shirt, and light jacket – – my face was also frozen solid.
I terrified my wife by tapping on the back patio sliding glass door, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive walking the rest of the way to the front door.
So I moved with my wife Dianne and our two sons, to the Golden West: San Francisco.
Artworks was a wonderful shop. Don McKee had a great cast of talent there, and I learned from folks like the great Stan Fleming, another Chicago transplant, who gave me an appreciation for the myriad aspects of preliminary art as well as tips for dealing with clients, art directors and designers. I met my future studio mate of 35 years, Robert Evans there who showed up one day in a work-study capacity from The Academy of Art. Dennis Ziemienski was another major talent at the shop. I was about ready to launch out on my own after 3 terrific years at Artworks when I was approached by Dennis about sharing rent on a studio he had located just up Sansome Street and right around the corner on Broadway. It was a 2nd floor walkup above a little Chinese restaurant, overlooking the hustle and bustle of North Beach. It was a little tight for the two of us, but Dennis wanted to use it as a satellite site, while he worked out of his Palo Alto studio.
I found the place to be perfect for the work I was doing, a mix of finished illustrations for smaller tech clients and startup gaming companies, as well as a fair amount of preliminary art for all the local agencies: Storyboards and comprehensive sketches. I was very comfortable with the mix, given that I had paid half my way through Art center doing similar work for agencies in LA while a student. I had my drafting table, lights and a chair. The traffic outside helped me to feel a part of the local art scene, and the redolent aroma of Chinese cooking right beneath me. What could be more San Francisco? I would even duck below into the eatery a couple of times a week for a quick lunch. It was always busy.
One of the groups I had not worked with was D’Arcy-MacManus, so, as was the custom, I called and asked whether I could show my portfolio. I had only been on my own at this point for a week or so, so this would mark my emergence as a true free lancer, my dream come true! My first on-my-own appearance before a creative!
I took my portfolio case containing samples of my professional work, and walked down Sansome to the neighborhood for D’Arcy and entered the lobby. The receptionist made a call to find out who might be available to review my work. An Art Director named Chris Short agreed and an intern led me through the pristine walls and hip architecture of the agency to Chris’s office. I entered into the stylish bright white high rise office, Chris was nattily dressed, in a white shirt, stylish tie, and pressed slacks, and stood to reach across his long white desk to welcome me with a handshake and a smile. I thanked him for his willingness to review my work, and he was a perfect gentleman, as he replied “no problem at all, welcome to my office, and please, let’s take a look at your work“.
I lifted my portfolio, and with a quick glance for his permission placed the 20”x30” folio on the end of his spotless long white desk which was nearest him as he sat in his beautiful articulated leather executive office chair.
As I drew open the zipper of the folio, I began telling him a bit about my background and the nature of the illustration samples I was preparing to show, and he assumed a more comfortable position, and leaned forward for a better look as I lifted the unzipped cover. Upon the final opening, and as I was in mid sentence, a very large and gorgeously shining mahogany insect with swept back antennae and I suspect, smelling of Chinese cuisine, leapt from the center of my portfolio with the fervor of a stallion at the dropping of the gates at Churchill Downs. Racing the length of my open portfolio, he leaped off the zippered edge onto Chris’s pristine bright white tabletop, and ran in a perfectly straight line the entire length of the table and sailed off, disappearing from sight.
I was aghast, …and petrified.
Like an idiot I continued to stare at the point of last view of the roach. I’m actually laughing to myself now, 40 years later, at how I must have looked to Chris.
For his own part, the man was a saint. When I regained my senses, and looked back to his face, he sat looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, with a very slight smile. Raising his eyebrows, and much to my eternal gratitude, he then said, “So, Marc, tell me about this first piece.”
We spoke together that day for about 20 minutes of his valuable schedule. He was kind in his appraisal of my work, and I thanked him for his time.
A week later Chris called with a job, and we commenced fifteen years or more of working together, and he never mentioned our day at the races.
A talented Art Director. And, a more perfect gentleman.
(Note: Marc sent us this story above, but I must add a short bio.:
1966 – 1972: Age 18, Paratrooper, U.S. Army. 1966 – 1972: Age 18, 2 tours in Vietnam, Left active duty age 24 with the rank of Captain in May 1972.
1972 – 1975: Age 25. Attended Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles. Graduated with a scholarship, and Bachelor of Fine Art with honors.
1975 – 1978: Illustrator, O’Grady Graphics, Artworks,S.F.
1982 to 1987: Chairperson, Chairman, and President, San Francisco Society of Illustrators, (2 years.)
1986 to 1995: Chairman of the SFSI Air Force Art Program, (9 years.)
1978 – 2015: Marc Ericksen Illustration.
Crystal Cruise Lines Watercolors:
2015 – Watercolor illustrations for Crystal Cruise Lines, Agency: DDB West — Creative Director: Joe Kayser.
Shown are 15 of 19 pieces (20” x 30” each) required to be created within 14 days without fail.
Publication Illustrations above: Ancient Football-PC Magazine, Ballantine Publishing-Case of Curiosities, Baltimore Sun-Catch 22, Communication World-Russian Bear, Sharks-Bernie Nichols-Goal 1000, USAF Collection P‑51D – – Drop Tanks and Engage, Varian Silicon Chip Disc Autoclave
Product Illustrations above:
Anheuser-Busch Shock Top — Belgian-style wheat ale,
Video Games: Chex Quest- Galaga-Atari, MegaMan-Cannon Arm PRGE 2018
See also, this 2012 video: Game Box Art:
and, at the right – – Artist’s Sites:
Marc Ericksen’s link shows his many styles of finished art and preliminary art – – from 1978 to the present day.
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.
Geezers Gallery 52
Bill and Nina Stewart
I worked mostly as an art director for various ad agencies in Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco as well as some stints of freelancing along the way.
My first art job was with Douglas Aircraft in LA as a Tech. Illustrator while attending Art Center School in Hollywood. Even though it was a summer job, I still have many fond memories of my time at Douglas for some reason. Tom Gleason was my mentor at the time. I think we worked several summers at Douglas. After work we would always go body surfing at a near by beach. After art school, we started out in Seattle.
My first job was with Container Corporation of America as a designer in their Design Lab. Nina was freelancing doing editorial illustration and ad design for Arthur Morgan Interiors. Later, I worked as art director for two ad agencies in Seattle, Cole & Webber and Botsford, Constantine, and Gardner. BC&G later moved its headquarters to San Francisco and merged with its S.F. office, later to become Botsford, Ketchum. At that time I worked primarily on the Olympia Beer account. Nina’s freelance work included package illustration for Republic of Tea, Sunrise Home Interiors, story illustrations for Travelers Tales book series. After BC&G I joined with Kelly Nason Advertising, (Coors Beer) Christian Brothers Marketing Services, and Flair Communications (Dole Foods and Christian Brothers) We still do a bit of freelancing along with painting and some printmaking .….and still going to school, taking art classes at College of Marin.
Bill and Nina Stewart