“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” This is the famous quote used since it was stated by the English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton who lived from 1780 – 1832. Artists, through the years, have learned from each other and often there is an obvious similarity achieved in their work. I found that it was challenging to imitate the art styles of others. As a layout artist, I could present a particular artist’s style‐ — with the plan of the client hiring the artist known for that style.
In 1968, Charles Matheny Advertising was located on the second floor of the Belli Building (where I was beginning my graphic art career) we both admired James Thurber who was an American writer with a unique style of wit and humorous illustration. Thurber’s cartoons and short stories were published mostly in The New Yorker, and he was also a journalist and a playwright—
–but he could no longer be reached:
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961).
So imitation was our answer.
I offered a similar “look” (not truly copying his style — not really fooling Thurber fans). Charles Matheny had a long career in copywriting for advertising. There were various campaigns for his client, California Casualty. These ads, folders and counter card show the art style that didn’t take much time to execute so it fit the client’s schedules and budget for this campaign.
In 1975, there were two ad campaigns, promoting the use of BankAmericard. I was to study Robert Weber’s cartoon style. His work was easy to find as his cartoons were also published often in The New Yorker magazine. Robert Maxwell Weber (April 22, 1924 – October 20, 2016) Known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007 – this was an artist that could be reached in the 1970s! The first ad shows Weber’s style. Next, my layout (imitating Weber’s style) and the final ad by Weber as printed in many publications.
With the second BofA ad — I again tried to guess the image that would sell the concept to the client, National BankAmericard Inc. (that I knew as NBI). (After all these years, my files are incomplete and I cannot remember the creative director that guided me.) I was not able to have a copy of the second final printed ad showing Weber’s final art — but here is the Xerox from those days that shows his plan. I was able to use this image in preparing the type and placement of the art before his final illustration arrived.
Maxwell “Bud” Arnold formed an advertising agency in 1970. He was creating effective advertising campaigns for clients but he also felt that he could use advertising to reach an audience on socially conscious issues. In September of 1976, for Maxwell Arnold’s client, Golden Gate Transit, I was asked to imitate a Charles Saxon style. (This was the only time that I had free‐lanced for Mr. Arnold. He died May 24, 2013.)
After being an editor for Dell Publishing before and after his service in WW2, Saxon began his career as a very well know cartoonist — first for The Saturday Evening Post and in 1956 he started producing his outstanding 92 covers and 700 cartoons for The New Yorker.
Following the two SAXON covers, below, this was my “Saxonish” drawing that’s Bud Arnold submitted to Golden Gate Transit for an approval of style—
—but the finished art was assigned to still another artist who was showing in several popular magazines and also worked for year for Disney: Henry ‘Hank’ Syverson (October 5, 1918 – August 12, 2007) Besides being a constant cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, This Week and The New Yorker magazines, his drawings reached other countries with PAN AM Airways ads.
Here are some of Syverson’s creations:
The last ad appeared in October in the Marin County’s Independent Journal. It was then that I found out that the client had changed the artist from Charles Saxon to Hank Syverson.