Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Good Artists: A Dime A Dozen
"I'm going to New York. I don't know if I'll accomplish anything but I have to give it a shot."
Will was speaking to his employers at TDF. It was 1952. "The problem was", he says today, "good artists were a dime a dozen back then. Even when I was doing my thing during the 60's and 70's, there were so many good artists. We were a dime a dozen."
In New York, Will would interview at one art studio and ask them about their competitors. In that way, he'd find out about whom else he could approach for work. "I interviewed at Fredmann/Chiat", says Will, "it was the same year Bob Peak started there. If I had stayed with them, I would have been sitting alongside Peak. But I chose poorly. I chose to go with a studio called Byron Musser. The owners were very nice. One fellow even had me out to dinner at his home on Long Island for Thanksgiving."
"But they couldn't get me any work. And the one saleman there was terrible. I was glad to take work home, otherwise he'd be right there over my shoulder the whole time. It was awful."
Will remembers there were several artists at Byron Musser, a couple of whom he befriended. "The one fellow said to me, "Why in the world would you come to New York?'". Will had begun to wonder that as well.
By now Will had bought a house in Terrytown, NY and sent for his young family, but as his savings ran out so did his determination. Things might have been different if he had been single, but he had a family to support and there were better prospects back home in Toronto.
Taber, Dulmage & Fehely were only too happy to get back their star illustrator. What Cooper was to New York and the American illustration market, TDF was to Toronto and the rest of Canada. TDF's salesmen brought more assignments from more clients than Will could handle. By 1960 you'd have been be hard pressed to open a newspaper or magazine and not see Will's signature on either advertising or editorial art - or both.
In just seven short years since his New York misadventure Will Davies had gone from dime-a-dozen to top buck.