I’ve written about mediums, techniques/tips, and materials. My posts to this blog will now move forward to anecdotes and information about the many kinds of jobs I did throughout my thirty-year career as an illustrator.
My jobs will be categorized by subject, medium, or style. I’m starting with some of the earliest jobs I received after I graduated from college.
When I received one of my first jobs out of Chicago for Claussen Pickles, it was very exciting. I was told to illustrate three elements for an FSI ad. FSI stands for “Full Service Insert,” and represents those ads with coupons in the Sunday newspaper. I did a lot of FSI‘s and there usually were extremely tight deadlines.
There were times when I would finish my painting late at night, and drive to the airport to get it on a plane for the fastest shipment. One time, the local airport wasn’t open until 5:00 a.m. It was 3:00 a.m., so I slept in my car until then. My rep would go to the airport to pick up the package on her end!
Eventually, I knew all of the last minute shipping services that were available. I always had the client pay for them!
My illustrations were to be of a whole pickle in a vertical position, a sliced pickle wedge, and a grouping of jars. Of course, I hated lettering and was relieved that the labels on the illustrated jars would be added later on. I just needed to leave the area blank.
I began the job with my usual procedure of photographing my reference and creating marker comps.
One particular memory stood out about this project. My marker comps were all approved and I had three days to paint the final art. I began painting the pickles first. I received a call from the art director a day later.
This was the new instruction that I was given:
“Please adjust the water droplets so that the pickle can be flipped over to run upside down for another ad. We want the droplets to be non-directional.”
That instruction of “non-directional” still makes me laugh. I made the adjustment and of course, it certainly compromised the quality of what I was painting. Everyone was satisfied with the final result and that was what mattered. I went on to create black and white pickle illustrations for Claussen’s that were used in newspaper advertisements.
During my career, my focus has always been on pleasing the art director and the client. Pleasing myself was always much harder!
My job for Del Monte pickles was a breeze. There was never a “dill” moment. I like puns, as you can tell. This job was awarded to me by SBG Partners in San Francisco. My agent, Barb Hauser, negotiated the project. SBG Partners also awarded me the Beech Nut Baby food account later on in my career. SBG Partners became Enterprise IG, and I worked with them on the Lender’s Bagels account. Enterprise IG is no longer in business. So many of the agencies I used to work with are gone.
What I find most intriguing about this project is the fact that my illustrations are still on those labels after so many years. I have illustrated many labels, and sometimes I’ve even revised labels years later on products I have illustrated. The Del Monte labels are like classics, they are recognizable like the Campbell soup labels.
I do not have any of my final illustrations on many of these early assignments. The client purchased the artwork. Sometimes I took slides, and I’ve scanned what I could find. The quality is not that terrific.
There were eight illustrations, and I have all my marker comps. On this project, there is a lot to share.