Sunday, February 26, 2006

Who drew this?

And who drew this?

What about this? Who drew this?

And how about this? Its so great - but the identity of the artist who drew it will probably never be know. That's sad...

I love these old ads done in 50's cartoon styles. Sometimes the illustration was just a minor supporting element in an otherwise photographic ad, but still, those tiny anonymous cartoon illustrations had so much character and vitality that they deserve closer examination.

That's why I've created a Flickr set called Ads w/ Cartoon Elements. I'll be adding to it regularly so if this is your sort of thing too, you might like to go check it out (and maybe bookmark it).

BTW, I'm not alone in my love of this kind of stuff... there are other folks on Flickr who share my passion and are adding their own scans. Take a look at Mid-Century in Print, The Retro Kid, Vintage Advertising and most recently, a new group called Allan & Todd's for a pleasant trip down Memory Lane. A great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.


  1. I once tried to find the name of an illustrator in this mold. Starting with VIP and branching out. I had no luck. A friend of mine attributed the overall look to the zietgiest of the time. Warhol, Partch, Ben Shahn and the whole Atomic Age thing. A big steaming pot of anonymous on demand cartooning, with a definite feel of the times.
    I have thought recently that there are a lot of us illustrators working in anonymity, producing art that reflects our era and time and that may be viewed by future generations of illustrators looking for answers and even inspiration.

  2. A great comment, Stan. I think you're right on the money. I know from talking to older guys I've met in the Toronto ad industry that there were a lot of in-house illustrators doing a variety of styles - whatever a job called for - without specializing in a particular cartoon style like we see today.

    Probably a lot of supporting art was done late in the game to fill a hole in the ad design or because the client wanted a particular feature of their product highlighted.

    Many of these "utility illustrators" probably lifted that 50's look from their own swipe files of printed cartoon ads.

    And as for your thought about the on-going tradition of anonymity in our business, I think you've hit on the core motivation for why I put together Today's Inspiration.

    Here's to being remembered! ;-)

  3. I love the Flickr set. Thank you and thanks to all the unknown heros of illustration.

  4. And thanks for plugging Today's Inspiration on your very cool blog , p-e! :-)

  5. Try googling Jan Balet and see if that's close to what you're looking for.

  6. Thanks for the suggestion Rob. I've already got a flickr set of Jan Balet's work and unfortunately that won't help to identify any of these artists. None of these illustrations were done by Balet.

    But I appreciate your comment! :-)