I asked Charlie Allen how he dealt with that inevitable time when clients no longer wanted the classic 1950's commercial art painting style he had so thoroughly mastered:
"There were changes, gradually, thoughout those years," he replied. "But the tsunami of the late '60s and the '70s changed everything. We've mentioned the demise of the billboards, magazines, even newspaper illustrations that occurred. Oddly, that followed some technical changes and fads in illustration. Acrylics came into popularity in the '60s and of course illustrators ran away with it....hence the 'swishy' or 'rain' look."
"There were mod looks, hippy looks, and others. Competent illustrators multiplied like rabbits, right at the time the biz folded like a tent."
"Illustrators scattered into teaching, portrait work, limited edition prints, category art, gallery painting....you name it, all kinds of venues. I found enough ad work to stay busy, but noticed the price of illustration going down as the huge inflation of the '70s caused everything else to go up."
"The US Steel brochure cover of the schoolhouse (below) was a new way of working for me...and I used it a lot later on. Mostly gouache on gessoed board."
" 'Technique' got way too important in those years, however, and illustrators shot themselves in the rear with it. Good sound composition and draftsmanship were neglected. I tried to stay focused on fundamentals."
"My style changed as it was needed (you know the old admonition, 'adapt or die'). It got more linear, stylized, and even a bit cartoony at times.....but I always enjoyed trying new things. Still literal....a leopard can't change his spots."
* All of today's images can be found in my Charlie Allen Flickr set.