Jane Teiko Oka: Graphic Art To Wild Animals
Jane Teiko Oka wrote this brief timeline of her art career:
Applied for and received a working scholarship to California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, around 1954.
After one year, received full scholarship until I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree.
Accepted employment with a commercial art studio – Patterson & Hall in San Francisco.
Applied for and received a Fulbright scholarship in 1960 to study in Japan. Extended my stay (after my 10 months scholarship ended) to 1½ year, traveling within the country and visiting various studios and hand crafting companies.
Returned to San Francisco in 1962 and began my freelance career in the city.
One of my major clients – Japan Air Lines
Locally – Blum’s. San Francisco Magazine (story illustrations and cover designs).
Other areas of work:
Calendars, gift items, package design, posters, storybook illustrations, school
The Following is the collection that follows Jane’s timeline:
Around 1954, when Jane was living in San Francisco, she fulfilled her art scholarship at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (which became the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961) These are just a few of her portfolio samples.
In 1959 there was the huge assignment from the Educational Posters Co. Jane created the poster: Children Of Other Lands, 25½” x 37½”. Jane posed each of the 55 children and researched the costumes of each country. For the creatures of other lands she illustrated 22 mammals, 1 Toucan, and 5 schools of fish. Added are 3 ships. The examples below: the first image is of the full poster as offered on the web, followed by a “detail” that I have reduced from full size, to print on letter‐size gloss paper. (In researching this poster, I found this additional photo of a little girl pointing to the same poster. With little difficulty, I found that this little girl is Linda Davick, now also a children’s book illustrator in San Francisco. I reached her by email and she wanted Jane to know that she loved the poster. Linda wrote: “I’m SURE Jane’s poster influenced my art career in a big way. I looked at it all the time!”)
1959 – The Bohemian Club accepted artists (only men) on the condition that they contribute their talents. Jane (and I, also) were put to the task of creating art for a club member. Here is (Jane’s) invitation to an event at the Bohemian Grove’s summer encampment. The Owl is the club’s mascot. On line, I also found this example created by Bruce Butte. I had worked for Butte, Herrero & Hyde until April 1965 and I am sure this was Bruce’s art because I also recognize Bill Hyde’s lettering.
Also shown above is this photo of Jane at the art studio: Patterson & Hall where she designed a page of the calendar that was a coöperative project of P&H’s studio and Charles R. Wood, Lithographers (which had a notable reputation for quality printing). The abstract design by Jane Oka utilized transparent and opaque colors printed on foil. The calendar was released in 1961. Jane’s book cover design for “Key To Lasting Slimness” was published in 1960.
Jane’s 10‐month Fulbright Scholarship in Tokyo began with many weeks of making Sumi inks, until her talents were realized. Then she was set free to explore the local studios of arts and crafts. The examples of Jane’s on‐the‐spot sketches are shown below. 1962, back in San Francisco, Botsford, Constantine & Gardner found Jane’s knowledge of Japan and art style, perfect for their client: Japan Air Lines. The booklet: Japan Air Lines – Living in Japan – shows thirty of Jane’s illustrations, large and complex and small and simple. Jane also created two maps. Shown is the intricate map of Tokyo and the other map was of the routes of Japan Air Lines.
In 1965 Jane Oka moved from commercial to decorative art: Blum’s packaging designs (Blum’s was, in the 1960s, an exclusive candy‐shop / luncheonette that created many “sweets” and was known for their unique packaging; tins and boxes). San Francisco Magazine, covers and story illustrations. NAVH contributions of more than 30 holiday card illustrations for the benefit of National Aid to the Visually Handicapped. Of this subject: “children of many lands”, we show just two of the series of 24 – Jane’s yearly gift to the charity. Jane created the designs for matchboxes produced in Japan.
Decorative posters: 1968 was also the beginning of her creation of posters for Portal Publications, Ltd. – the assignments extended to 1973 when the art was converted into yearly calendars. 12 Zodiac Signs, 5 Kitchen Charts, 5 Gourmet Guides, 10 Proverbs, All at: 20”x 29” (Size of the Calendar art: 13”x 16”)
Jane Oka designed all thirty‐two posters, working directly with Portal Publications from 1969 and into the1970s. Some of the artwork was reprinted as calendars, so there is the additional smaller collection. Jane styled and ordered the type, researched and wrote the various copy blocks and list of ingredients, and presented Portal Publications with the paste‐ups ready for printing.
Posters used as decorative props In the Woody Allen movie,” Sleeper” there was a scene where one of Jane’s Zodiac posters was used as a prop. There is a website: “The Kids in 201”, it is a blog about the TV series: “Three’s Company”. It shows two of these posters used for room props. Redbook Magazine’s “Redbook Crafts” (March 1978 issue) printed with permission from a published 1976 book: “Things To Do In A Day”. Using Jane’s “Calories” poster as a choice in decorating the project.
Posters used as yardage and other items. Without Jane or Portal Productions being aware, yardage was produced using the art from her (most popular) the12‐signs Zodiac poster. A photo below shows the Zodiac yardage made into clothing. Jane says that “someone (?)” found and showed her this Playboy Magazine ad offering men’s pants – using fabric from her poster art. The San Francisco Examiner shows a comforter made of the fabric.
There were blow‐up vinyl pillows of each sign, and key chains. These might have been produced by Portal Publications, or not. Jane would see her Gourmet or Kitchen posters used as décor in restaurants. And, one day, as Jane was standing on the side of a San Francisco street, a Volkswagen “Hippy” bus drove by with her Virgo poster design painted on it. She was sorry that she didn’t have a camera to record the sight. Jane has a huge collection of these posters and we are searching for a place to market them. The collection is from the printer, never removed from the boxes that were given to her as each poster was produced.
1969 to 1978 was also filled with book illustrations.
The move from graphic art to the art of wild animal care! An overlapping interest and devotion was in the care of Marin County’s wildlife. Orphaned or hurt birds and animals were her first interests, then the sea animals, at The Marine Mammal Center. In 1998, “Healers Of The Wild” was published. Jane Oka’s contributions were listed, third, on page 205 (as shown, below). Jane had served as shift supervisor for nineteen years. In 2000, Jane designed this T‐shirt for the 18th Annual “Run For The Seals” benefit and she recently donated the preliminary art and the finished art to the center for their on‐sight exhibit.
The energy and determination needed for Jane Oka’s intense work‐mode is still there, she is non‐stop. (She does take a break, as at the 2008 Geezers’ Gathering and when she visits us.)
Jim Stitt Labels Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, Annually!
At our last Geezer Gathering, Jim Stitt brought this Anchor Steam Christmas Ale poster that shows the full collection of 39 labels designed for Anchor Steam Ale. For forty years Jim has created labels (illustrations and lettering) entirely by hand and without the aid of computer programs. Each year the Christmas label required a new choice of tree, new lettering in a new arrangement working with the same few colors.
I also show some of Jim’s line studies. Much study is needed, in order to represent each individual tree.
There are a lot of Anchor Steam Beer and Jim Stitt sites to see, so without me having to re‐write a lot of information —his following site tells a lot:
I have shown more of Jim’s artwork and history on our: jim‐stitt‐design Here you will see Jim’s boat in Sausalito where he lived and worked.
Napa Valley Museum Jim Stitt
On their website you can read Jim’s bio and there is an ANCHORSTEAM YouTube Video that shows Jim in action.
With our best seasonal wishes to our readers–
and to Piet Halberstadt who presents our Geezers’ Gallery
But it’s Ann that does all the work.
The Past And The Last Geezer Gathering?
In those days, when I started free-lancing as a commercial artist, I found that San Francisco usually did not reach out to the east or to the LA area. The coolness of this area made it a printing center from the very early days. I found, that all of the various services that were needed for advertising in the 1940s to the1970s pretty well kept to the tight group of talents within the SF Bay Area. This was before the national delivery services. Local deliveries were often by walking. “Aero Delivery” bicycles were for local rush jobs and a run to the US Post Office before closing time with packages of art was the way to the outside world. Some Illustrators did mail their finished art to Chicago, NYC, and even Cleveland. Even TV commercials were created here, as at Imagination, Inc. on Kearny Street where I had a summer job as a cell-painter for Standard Oil commercial.
A lot of friendships grew in clubs: the Art Directors and Artists of San Francisco, the SF Society of Illustrators, the San Francisco Copywriter’s Club, ASMP (the American Society of Media Photographers) and APA (American Photographers of America). There was also in 1958 the Society of Designers and Illustrators (that was before my time). On any street, downtown, you’d see a person that you knew–as our “Madison Ave.” was spread all around downtown San Francisco.
Salespersons in the trade, knew most of the players in our industry. There were Paper Reps, Typography Reps, Printing Reps, Art Studio Reps, Art Supply Reps––Art Flax would make personal visits.
Murray Hunt represented Spartan Typographers. Spartan’s owner, Jim McGlynn, had been to the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland and brought back the new 1957 type font–Helvetica –exclusive to their shop in Oakland. The type became a huge favorite–and still is –as we are using it here on this site. Murray would call on several designers in the Jackson Square area and soon there were a number of them at “Clown Alley” at lunch. (Favorite restaurants are listed in an earlier post.) San Francisco felt like “a very small ad town”, then.
The self-employed artists personally met most all of the ad agency art directors and the various other agency personnel. In art studios, the sales persons for the studios usually were the ones who called on the clients and art directors in agencies–unless the artist needed to meet for direct discussions.
There was also foot-traffic, after-hours. There were no in-house copy machines, no stat machines.
Top illustrators would often personally carry their art to the various photo-stat shops. Their support team may have left for the day and an urgent call to Copy Cats or Copy Service would keep the doors open and that stat crew waiting. (Copy Service’s, Jim Faulkner–I still owe him a drink, after all these years.) Some individual studios had a Camera Lucinda, a “Luci’“ projector for late hours or weekend work. But that was a slow process for calculating size changes in preliminary work. When two art studios combined, I asked for the extra Art-O-Graph. I borrowed my mother’s car-with-hatch-back and took it away. We found our “lucI” a great asset at home, even when we already had early Apple computers. Yes, we could enlarge images on the computer screen but not up to 14”x17” paper or as enlargement of smaller “thumb-nails” to be reflected onto illustration board for traditional, painted, finished art.
Unlike email, telephone contacts brought out a lot of the personalities of both parties. Without the availability of “attachments by email” there was the walk outside to deliver and show the work–in- progress, discuss and make noted adjustments to the job––and possibly time it for a lunch nearby where the others with our same interests, lunched.
The close working relationships within the city––is the reason that the GEEZERS are such tight friends, even after all these years. I found that school reunions are a wide mix if interests, when fellow students go into so many different occupations. Our Geezer reunions have locked in the same persons with the same (graphic arts) trade so all the past recollections are familiar to many. Now (still 200 strong) we do contact our Geezers by gang-email, announcing art gallery shows, personal announcements and a yearly gathering, a picnic.
Our yearly GEEZER reunions were always in early October when the weather is usually cool. Although, the very first Gathering was on July 31,1993 at the Buechert property in Petaluma CA. Bob Buechert and a hand full of ad types (I don’t remember who we all, were) planned the event. Several lists from each of us were put together for mailing. We never again had such a large attendance. Please see the 1993 photo at the bottom of the Gathering list, at left on this site. (I counted 90 in the photo and then added Dick Moore who took the photo from up on the water tower and a few who might have been still at the food tables and where some “classic” cars were parked–so maybe 100?) This happened to be a weekend of the Bohemian Grove encampment. Declining RSVPs came to us from their artist members. (Beginning in 1872, Bohemian Club meetings were only of journalists, artists and musicians.)
Now in 2018 (to bring a full circle of the 20 picnics that followed) we were happy this year, to have guests: Arlene and Courtney Buechert. This year’s picnic was the last gathering to be held in this Corte Madera Town Park. The park wants the space in September and October for the young soccer teams. It has only been convenient to a small portion of our Geezers. So I am hoping that the in the future we can find multiple free and convenient locations.
On October 3rd, rain was possible. The Bay Area had been dry since May, but the night before our picnic it rained heavily at 10pm. Even with that, we emailed that we would be there at the park to see who could show up. At 11am, we were ready with umbrella at hand, and then the gang appeared:
Email to us after the picnic was so very kind in the thanks to us. Here is just one:
The photos are so nice, it was a lovely day and we had a nice time. Thanks also for all you have done to keep the advertising folks in touch with each other, that is no small task and you have made a really interesting group cohesive and together.
Four of them noted:
“Thanks for sending. Who in the hell is that old man with the long hair? I just got it cut, can we re-shoot?”
“Very sneaky. I had no idea that I was subject matter!”
“Hi Ann, thanks for the photos. We’re certainly looking geezerish.”
“Look forward to seeing the group pix. And somehow attending another Geezer’s picnic somewhere!!”
And Best to you Ann Thompson from all the Geezers past and present.
XO Piet Halberstadt
We have previously posted collections of Willi Baum and Dick Moore and most recently, some of Earl Thollander’s Chinese cooking illustrations.
Here is a showing of Bill Shield’s commercial art from the years: 1961 to 1975
Now, examples of his fine art (with views of his workspace-easel with art in progress).
Bill and family lived on Pine Street in San Francisco. In time, by re-building the home, it became the “Artists Inn”–with warm B&B hospitality and it was decorated with Bill’s paintings.
Bill also remodeled the building at the rear of their property. It was Bill’s studio and originally had spaces for other artists. Later, it also became an addition to the inn that welcomed visitors to San Francisco.
Show 3-Artists Inn 1, 2 & 3
The 4 Caballeros (Part 2)
1962 The San Francisco Examiner PICTORIAL LIVING. When three of the four artists returned to San Francisco, their sketches inspired paintings. The San Francisco Examiner’s headline “How Six Bay Eyes Saw Mexico” did not include the fourth artist, Willi Baum. Because at that time, Willi was back in Mexico, in San Miguel, where he was designing a mural there. So Willi was not shown in the photo with the Examiner’s story.
Sept/Oct 1962 Communicating Arts Magazine
Here also, are six pages showing the art and it includes the written comments from the artists. (The sketch that you see at the bottom of each page was a fifteen-foot long, 360-degree drawing that Earl Thollander made as he viewed the complete row of buildings surrounding the open square where the artists were sketching.
On November 7, 1962, there was an exhibition of sketches and paintings that were a result of the trip. It was held at the Art Unlimited Gallery in San Francisco. The gallery was accessed from the ground floor and then a strait staircase down to a basement. Willi had recently returned from San Miguel, but on the night of the gallery show, he appeared in a wheelchair at the top of the long flight of stairs. The crowd showed concern about Willi’s condition and worried how he planned to get to the lower level. Then, following his plan in “making an entrance” he stood up from the wheelchair and casually descended the stairs!
Not long after that occasion, Bill established a studio in New York. As a member of the Society of Illustrators, there, he received and awarded award of merit with his painting developed from one of his sketches from the trip in Mexico (the last of the images that you see above). The four amigos, together Other sketch trips followed. Each of the four produced more and more paintings, beyond their commercial work.