Following Directions

Of the 102 members of the San Fran­cisco Society of Illus­tra­tors, all were located in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area — except, Will Nelson who was located in Boise. Idaho.
He had a profes­sional back­ground in adver­tising and edito­rial illus­tra­tion for studios in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. This Photo of Will Nelson and the three exam­ples of his work are from the SFSI Twenty Fifth Anniver­sary Index #6. The “Last of Their Kind” collector plates showing endan­gered animals are samples of his illus­tra­tions of wildlife.

Will Nelson’s repre­sen­ta­tive in San Fran­cisco was Ron Sweet, who suggested that FCB Health­care contract with the artist in Idaho to do the finished art for their new ad campaign.
It was from this connec­tion that I received an assign­ment to “sell” Will Nelson’s work to FCB Healthcare’s client: Syntex Labs for a series of medical journal ads.
Adver­tising — there is always a ”new direction”,
This time, for a campaign was for a product to relieve arthritic/rheumatic pain: Naprosyn.
The product manager and team gave me a subject that I had never before needed to explore, wild animals!
This was when I turned to books showing all kinds of wildlife.
It was the job of the copy­writers in the agency to find a head­line word and a sub-head line that would link a wild animal to the qual­i­ties that Naprosyn could offer.

First I did a little “warm-up”. My tools were Eagle Pris­ma­color pencils, smeared with Bestine thinner on layout paper. “Tolerant” was the first word to be illustrated.

As the format of the series of pages was estab­lished, the term for pain-relief: “Flex­ible” gave me a wide choice of wildlife to illus­trate. I told the agency’s team that there were a lot of possi­bil­i­ties to choose from, they said to do them all and all would be considered.

For “Growing”, I first thought of a bear cub, and then a large bear — but finally found it best to show a young example with the adult of the species. For the word “Powerful” an elephant was an obvious choice. “ Leader”: a lion — “Conve­nient”: a camel — “Enduring”: a turtle —“Climbing”: rams.

This was in 1984 and as Will Nelson begun illus­trating the pages for the publi­ca­tions. More subjects for layouts to be OK’d by Syntex — were requested directly from him.
These first three, “Family”, “Gentle” and “Kind” are his layouts. The last three are his published art.
Many of this series were published in the medical jour­nals, I don’t have copies of them.
Each ad had the reverse of the page showing the brief summary of the full prescribing information.

When my layout assign­ments were over, I learned a new art lesson. I was able to see some of Will Nelson’s prelim­i­nary work. He had added paint to a sketch that had been xeroxed. I tried this method. The guide­lines of my sketch were strong and Pelikan Opaque Water­color paints worked well for my test.
Rams Test

In all of the years that I have worked as a free-lance commer­cial artist, this was the only time that I needed to study and illus­trate wildlife.
Accepting assign­ments from a wide range of clients has opened my interest in subjects that I would never other­wise have studied. Some artists want to only paint their own choice of subjects, but I feel that I have learned a lot from taking directions.

As I was putting this together, I remem­bered being in the first grade in grammar school. Mrs. Holland gave each of us, a large piece of paper and asked the class to draw a pig. I drew a pig…from top to bottom and side to side of the paper. The draw­ings were collected and pinned up on a wall. There were giggles. Most of the student colored their pigs pink, with a round middle, a snout, pointed hoofs and a curly tail — but they also showed a pig-pen, a barn, people, trees, and mud. Mine just showed: PIG. BIG PIG! I was following direc­tions. A pig was all that Mrs. Holland asked for.

Again, with the Will Nelson assign­ment, most of my layouts for Naprosyn did not include much scenery (only when multiple animals needed to be shown). I was not asked to show the locations.

Ann Thompson