Ed’s Story

I had reason, one day, to deliver a package to 40 Gold Street—just one block north and one-half block east of my location—to three very talented artists there: Ed Diffenderfer, John Lichtenwalner and Stan Dann. They had the name,  “222 Group”. Now I see that they had moved from 222 Kearny Street. Ed says that addressing mail and answering the phone with their three names was difficult—and “222 Group” was already established.
Here is Ed’s story:

San Francisco Illustration & Illustrators: 1950’S Thru 1960’S

By Ed Diffenderfer

Ed Diffenderfer

Ed Diffenderfer

Background: In the 1940’s and 50’s the illustrator who most influenced the “West Coast” style was Fred Ludekens, who surely was influenced by painter Maynard Dixon. Fred was, in turn, a great influence on S.F. illustrators like Stan Galli and Bruce Bomberger. In the late 40’s, Bomberger worked for a time under Ludekens when Fred was head art director for Foote Cone and Belding in S.F.

In 1950 I started directly out of art school, California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, to work for Logan & Cox Art Studio. Maurice Logan and Willard Cox ran the studio, and at that time they employed Larry Rehag, Jack Dumas, Paul Carey, and later Joe Cleary.  Maurice Logan was the premier full-color illustrator on the West Coast of the 1920’s and 30’s, and he and Paul Carey were mentors to me. I learned more in two years there than I did in four years at art school.

Editorial Art for Standard Oil which was chosen for the sixteenth annual exhibition of the Art Directors and Artists Club of San Francisco 1965.
(The illustrations shown here, are from the in black and white publication of that show.)
Artist: Ed Diffenderfer
ArtDirectors: Robert Washbish / C.R. Lyman
Client: Standard Oil Co. of California

In the 50’s almost all advertising was artwork, as color photography reproduction was not that effective then. Most illustration was done for advertising agencies or directly with companies headquartered in S.F.: Standard Oil of California (later Chevron) Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Hewlett Packard, to name a few. There were 4 major art studio services in San Francisco at the time: Logan & Cox; Staniford Sanvick; Patterson & Hall; and Shawl, Nyeland & Seavey.

I was with Logan & Cox (later Logan & Carey) for 11 years. In 1956 I got my first national full color magazine series for Georgia Pacific Lumber, running in Time, Newsweek, and Fortune. I split the series of 12 with Jim Hanson, an outstanding freelance illustrator at that time.

Around 1960 an illustrator by the name of Bill Shields came to S.F. from Texas and looked me up. His work made a big impression on all of us. Before, the “San Francisco Style” of illustration had not changed too much in 15 years, but Bill’s style was very free and dramatic, easy to spot. He loosened us all up, especially our editorial pieces for annual reports and company publications.

Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers

This Bill Moyers illustration was done for Chevron World Magazine; it also ran in PBS magazine on Creativity with Bill Moyers Series/ sponsored by Chevron.

I went out on my own, freelancing, in 1962, and joined illustrators John Lichtenwalner and Stan Dann in a space on 222 Kearney Street. Later, we moved to 40 Gold Street. We were able to work together on annual reports, etc. In the 1950’s and 1960’s annual reports had copious amounts of artwork, as opposed to today.  As a freelancer I was now able to go to New York and pick up magazine assignments for Argosy, Reader’s Digest, Boy’s Life, etc. About that time I was assigned by Sears Roebuck in Chicago to do 25 portraits of famous sports stars. These included Ted Williams, Sir Edmund Hillary, Bob Mathias, and many others, and were used by Sears to promote sports equipment.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary

The 60’s were very busy for illustrators. I even did a 50- foot mural for Barclay’s Bank in S.F. Most of us were working in downtown studios, and walking on the streets we always saw artist friends and agency people. Now almost all have gone to home studios, just as the New York illustrators all went to home studios in Connecticut.

Celebration of SFSI Alumni on May 20, 2001.

Around 1960 a small group of us formed the San Francisco Society of Illustrators. Our first show was in a restaurant called Pucci’s Pub, but we grew in membership and began to show once a year in the Zellerbach Building on Bush & Market. The large windowed lobby was a very good space, very accessible to the public.

U.S. Air Force

Our Society was approved by the U.S. Air Force for their art program around 1961. Don Davey and I were the first to be sent, and in 1961 we went to Japan. In 1969 Lowell Herrero and I went to illustrate the blast-off of Apollo 9 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Air Force art program had traveling shows throughout the U.S., and one of these shows came to San Francisco and was to be hung in the Zellerbach Bldg. lobby. I got on the phone and was able to get the Air Force Band from Travis Air Base to come and play at the opening. It made a big impression and drew a huge crowd.

5-Theodore-Roosaevelt

Teddy Roosevelt was done for S.F. Illustrators Annual show at Zellerbach Building. Topic was ‘Americana’.

Classic Cord
Classic Cord car was in the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators Show.

The 50’s and 60’s were wonderful creative times for illustration, and this continued through the 70’s and 80’s for me. The demise of a lot of the magazines that used so much illustration changed things quite a bit, but many of us found other avenues for our art.

Ed Diffenderfer