Steve Rustad Has Tales To Tell & Also Great Advice For A Young Illustrator (And For The June Graduate)!
I’m “still in the game.” And will continue to be until the pry my Cintiq tablet from my cold, dead hands.
Regarding my ad days. Because I preceded by stint in advertising working educational films, most of what I did in the agencies were TV spots. At J. Walter Thompson and I worked under Mac Churchill who (I thought) was a certifiable genius. And a true Mad Man, though his roots were in the Chicago ad scene. Mac’s legendary lunch regimen was a flock of double vodka martinis. The effects of which were never apparent in the afternoon — unlike most of the other JWT management at the time. (My opinion, don’t quote me.) I’m not sure that my agency story is all that unique, or interesting. It was a crappy time for agencies in general, perhaps because it was the run-up to the agency merger frenzy of the 1980’s fueled by the Brits, which I believe drove a stake into the heart of creative advertising. Unlike most creative managers of my acquaintance I worked very hard to support and promote my creative teams which earned me (for the most part) their undying contempt. As for the advertising luminaries that I encountered back then (Riney, Jay Chiat, Bob Hulme. Mike Koelker, Rich Silverstein, etc.) I’m sure I left no lasting impression.
I did these while at Ketchum in the late 70’s working under Bruce Campbell:
I didn’t do this spot, but I was responsible for animated Safeway tag the chain used for a period in the late 70’s.
At JWT I worked on Hewlett Packard, Chevron, Dole and a bunch of other brands, but this is only spot (other than the one below) I could find on YouTube.
For Sea Galley seafood restaurants the legendary (in my mind, anyway) Mac Churchill came up with this concept when we were on a break from presenting failed ideas to the so-far unhappy client.
I also did some print at JWT. I’ve attached some ads for Chevron and Dole and Hewlett Packard.
About a decade before I worked in advertising, I was a Federal Sky Marshal guarding flights out of SFO to points west, e.g., the Far East.
This photo shows me in the uniform of a US Customs Security Officer — my official job when I wasn’t flying undercover.
Fast forward to 2007 I decided to recount some of my “adventures” in a blog, which I continued to post content to, on and off, for the next 5 years.
If you like, please check it out, click here Sky Marshal Story — Night Flight to SFO — #31
As a Sky Marshal (aka Air Marshal) assigned to PanAm from early 1971 to the fall of 1972, I conducted most of my in-flight security duties aboard the Boeing 747. At the time, I didn’t realize how revolutionary the 747 was.??The 60’s boom in air travel had created a major traffic jam at the country’s airports as the 707’s and Douglas DC8’s jostled for space at the jet ways. As a remedy, Juan Trippe, Panama’s legendary Founder and President, pushed Boeing to create a plane at least twice the size of the 707. In response Boeing produced the 747 – 100 or Jumbo Jet. It’s said that PanAm’s influence as a “launch customer,” and the company’s hand in the design even before they placed their formal order, allowed Trippe to influence the development of the 747 in ways never seen before or since in the history of commercial aircraft. PanAm inaugurated 747 Jumbo Jet service in 1970. At 2.5 times the size of a 707, the wide body featured eight-across seating. The cockpit was on an upper deck, behind which was a “lounge,” for lack of a better word. The upped deck was accessed by a circular staircase – really a curved ladder – that looked like it had been yanked out of in artist’s studio in Soho. The powers-that-were decided to increase the teams of Sky Marshals assigned to 747 to three members, whereas 707’s and other “narrow-body” craft warranted teams of two. Usually two Marshals sat in First Class. The poor sap who drew the short straw sat way in the back of the cabin. Of the two Marshals who got to mingle with the carriage trade in First Class, one was required to sit at the foot of the spiral staircase. Since there were no assigned seats in the upper deck lounge we couldn’t position ourselves up there without blowing “our cover.” Yet, protocol required that no passenger was to visit the lounge without a Sky Marshal to keep him or her company. Any passenger who was hip to that knew exactly who was following them up the stairs. Most of flights I guarded over my tour of duty were a half to three-quarters full and – at least in first class – that left ample room to stretch your legs. However, I remember one flight where the increased capacity of the 747 was put to the test. The flight to SFO lifted off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo sometime after 10PM packed to the gills with men, women, children and babies. The cabin of the plane felt like a subway at rush hour. As a Sky Marshal, I’d never worked a flight where every seat was full. For the first half dozen hours everything was pretty normal. It was late, the cabin lights were dim and most of the passengers were snoozing. But as the evening dissolved into morning and folks began to stir, they did what most folks to when the first wake up…they went to the bathroom. Had they chosen to space the visits out, the plumbing might have handled the onslaught, but it seemed like everyone went, or wanted to go, all at the same time. In short order, the bathrooms began to fail, one after the other, until two long lines of fidgety passengers packed the two aisles leading to the last functioning bathroom in the back of Coach. It was so congested that the Marshal who had been positioned in the back had to work his way forward to the central galley just so that he could have some freedom of movement. Though the First Class bathrooms remained functional, airline rules forbade passengers from migrating past the bulkhead that separated the two sections. Then a woman with a sick baby burst through the curtains and headed for one of the First Class bathrooms with such fierce intention that she was virtually dragging in her wake the near-hysterical stewardess who had been trying in vain to explain the rules to her. Well, the sight of this determined woman breaching the sacred curtain of First Class broke the dam, as it were. Soon the aisles in First Class were also jammed with folks hopping from one to foot to the other. In the beginning, none of the Coach passengers who had stormed the bastion of privilege were aware of the bathroom on the upper deck but I knew it would be only a matter of time. Since the door to the upper deck bathroom was directly adjacent to the cockpit door, a scrum of passengers clustered in the upper deck lounge presented a security nightmare so I decamped from my seat at the base of the staircase to the lounge where I sacrificed my cover to spend the remainder of the flight standing sentry-like in front of the cockpit door. Interestingly, not one person that night asked me if I was a Sky Marshal.
© Stephen Rustad, 2008
These days, I’m working mostly in social media for a national food company. We have a sub-brand of sorts, Spoiled To Perfection (a video series) that discusses Fermented Foods, a hot topic among both foodies and Millennials This episode (from 2016) features some local (Sonoma County) talent in brewing:
When I have time I blog on my Rustad Marketing website (www.rustadmarketing.com) about topics I think might be relevant to folks interested in contemporary advertising issues and trends. Here’s one I wrote after a dinner with my daughter, who was soon to graduate from college and was fretting about her future.
Advice for A Young Illustrator
Some years ago, I had dinner with my daughter who, in my expert* opinion, is an exceptionally talented illustrator. After dessert, she confessed to me her concern that there wasn’t a place for her in the world of professional illustrators. I remember feeling exactly the same way when I graduated from college, nearly 50 years ago, and faced a bleak job market. Looking back over a professional career that has spanned more than 45 years (and counting), I want to offer my daughter, and others like her, some wisdom about seeking a career in what seems to be an overcrowded field with no obvious points of entry.
When I was first making the rounds as a young man entering the work world I received a profound tip about job hunting that proved to be true for me and many others: There is always a place for someone with talent, intelligence, a desire to work hard and – most important of all – a fresh approach to his or her craft.
Other qualities define my daughter: she has an unquenchable passion to create art of all kinds, and her work sparkles with intelligence, wit and a unique style. Coupled with her talent, these qualities complete the trifecta necessary to succeed as an illustrator.
So, how does my daughter and others like her find a place in a world crowded with talented, hardworking young men and women?
To begin, everyone who wants to sell their services, whether as a freelancer or a prospective employee, needs to view themselves from the point of view of the consumer. This is exactly the same advice I give to any marketer of a product or service. Don’t make the mistake of viewing the world from inside the bubble of self-awareness. In politics, this is called the echo chamber where all you hear is what you say. Businesses who behave this way are, “legends within their own walls.”
Any honest marketing effort starts by facing the hard truth that the great majority of potential customers don’t know who you are, and aren’t looking for you. Few people walk around thinking to themselves, “Who don’t I know that I should know”. The purpose of marketing is to change this. For the sake of simplicity I’ve boiled marketing communications down to three essential, sequential, components: awareness, relevance and action.
Awareness, means that as many people as possible, not just potential customers, have to encounter a memorable message about you. For a young person just starting out, awareness begins with friends and family – sharing projects and samples through broad reach social media such Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. A website is essential, and platforms such as Squarespace are virtually free.
Relevance, that is establishing a connection with a potential customer or employer, is achieved by populating your website and social media with projects and concepts that reflect current culture, trends, activities and passions – yours as well as others. Popular topics such as food, fashion, travel, movies and technology provide ample opportunity to demonstrate your intelligence, humor and creativity.
Action, which can range from a prospect or customer returning a message to offering a job, is the result of effective marketing. Common factors that lead to action – assuming that awareness and relevance have been established – are passion, preparation and persistence. Of course, you can’t discount luck. Still, as the saying goes, “Fortune favors the prepared.” One reason this maxim rings true is because two crucial elements of preparation are passion and persistence. (A voice from the back of room heckles, “What about quality, expertise, experience and skill?” In the service of brevity, let’s agree that these are all part of preparation, as well.)
Finally – and here’s the clincher – our aspiring artist must clearly demonstrate a unique style. I see many artists who have talent, skill and appear to be hardworking but the portfolios appear interchangeable. Some of this is perhaps the product of working (or aspiring to work) in a “creative factory” (think Disney or Pixar) where a corporate style or “look” influences the art.
To wrap up, perhaps the most direct answer to the question, “Is there a place for me in the world?” is “Yes, once you give people a chance to discover your unique, original, voice.” Before Apple introduced the iPhone no one knew they needed a hand-held, flat-screen monitor that connected to the Internet. Afterwards, they couldn’t live without one.
If you’re interested in knowing more about my daughter, here’s the link to her website click here: