Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Realities of Working in an Art Studio

TI list member Bruce Hettema is the owner of P&H Creative Group and the author of an article in the current issue of Illustration magazine on the history of his Petaluma, California art studio, which began life in the 1920's in San Francisco as Patterson & Sullivan.

"Pat" (Patterson) and "Sully" (Sullivan) ran a tight ship.

They were two business-minded individiuals who were bottom-line oriented, and they constantly pushed their artists to be more productive.

Stan Galli, who Patterson & Sullivan hired right out of the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1930's, remembers fellow art students warning him against going to work at that studio because it was too commercial. "But I needed a job. I needed to make some money, and they paid $40 a month."

Clyde Seavey (below) was a talented artist at P&S who, in the early 30's, did a series of humorous caricatures of all the P&S artists and a series of cartoons depicting, from the artist's perspective, the grueling existence of a staff artist.

It's an insightful and amusing look at daily life in the agency at that time, which included client demands, creative differences, and squeezing budgets.

You can find the full length version of this article in Illustration magazine #19.


  1. nice illustrations, specially the last one with the “brainstorm” theme :), some kind of illustrators factory



  2. That is certainly the sense you get, isn't it, Pablo? And of course such places are legendary in every city that has a commercial art industry.

    Here in the Toronto market there was a shop that specialized in catalogues and flyers that everyone was afraid to work at. Word was that nobody had ever lasted more than ten years there before getting burned out and having to retire from the business.

    Probably a slight exaggeration...


  3. Anonymous4:36 PM

    Thank you, Bruce, for your fine article about Patterson and Hall (nee Sullivan). I particularly enjoyed Seavey's wonderfuly designed cartoons and caricatures today. They are delightful and they also provide a social commentary on the times.
    Notice that all of the illustrators are male. It's also surprising that they are all right handed. Perhaps Seavey took artistic liberties for the sake of composition.

    Barbara B

  4. mark harris9:07 AM

    Eek, those illustrations make me break into a cold sweat!
    Must be the PTSD...

  5. I have one of those caricatures,27x17, done in oil, and I'm wondering what it's worth.

  6. byjane;

    I suggest you contact Bruce Hettema about it at his email address:

    Bruce is the current owner of the company for which the artist worked and may be interested in purchasing your original. Other than that, he may have more information about the artist for you.