In The Pink

Norm Nicholson

In the 1960’s I was fortu­nate to land a nice illus­tra­tion commis­sion from Young & Rubicam. It entailed a series of full page illus­tra­tions for Kaiser Aluminum that appeared in Fortune maga­zine, Busi­ness Week and other publi­ca­tions. Each ad consisted of three pages. The first page was solid black with a die cut and small bit of copy under­neath giving you a small glimpse of the illus­tra­tion on the third page. The die cut was over a vivid pink sky I had painted in the illustration,which happened to be a picture of a heli­copter flying over very rough terrain bringing a fully assem­bled aluminum trans­mis­sion tower to its perma­nent site. With in the illus­tra­tion I chose to paint a hot pink sky for visual impact. I thought I could get away with it. Upon delivery of my art to Y&R, I was confronted by one account exec reviewing my illus­tra­tion. ”Wow” was his remark. “Why the pink sky?” “For visual impact” was my response.” Yeah but skies are blue” he said with a very serious tone to his voice “We will let let you know if they approve it”

Previ­ously I had been told by Don Sternloff a creative director at Y&R that Henry Kaiser himself viewed and approved all corpo­rate iden­tity ads. Two days later I received a phone call from the agency ”Henry Kaiser loved the illus­tra­tion pink sky and all” I was told. ”I knew he would like it” I responded” “What made you so sure?” I was asked. Having worked at Kaiser Graphic Arts right out of Art Center College, before opening my studio in San Fran­cisco, I was aware of Kaisers affinity for the color pink. I told the caller from Y&R all of Henry Kaiser’s Perme­nente Cement trucks in Cali­fornia were painted a hot pink. On another occas­sion I viewed an article in Archi­tec­tual Digest Magizine about Henry Kaisers home in Hawaii as well as a suite of rooms he kept at the Fair­mount Hotel. The color PINK was domi­nate in the décor.

So when it came to painting the sky pink in my illus­tra­tion, not only was pink used for visual impact, I thought how could I miss with Kaiser’s taste for PINK!