Steve Rustad Has Tales To Tell

Steve Rustad Has Tales To Tell & Also Great Advice For A Young Illus­trator (And For The June Grad­uate)!

Steve writes:
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:

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Chan­ning Kitty Litter

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Tony Randall Hunts


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Earl Brown Mattel

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Duraflame 1979

[/one_half] [one_half last=“no”]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.

Safeway 1979

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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.

HP Touch screen

HP Touch screen


[one_half last=“yes”] 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.

We've got crab legs

We’ve got crab legs


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​.rustad​mar​keting​.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.

Daughter Valerie’s book Illus­tra­tion

If you’re inter­ested in knowing more about my daughter, here’s the link to her website click here:
Steve Rustad