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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

"We were doing amazing things..."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

"In the 1960's," writes Harry Borgman, "we still had a good deal of illustration work in Detroit. I was also doing a lot of stuff for Bill Neely in NY."


"When I was the head art director at Campbell Ewald on the Chevy account, we used to have meetings with Austin Briggs, Bill Tara and other illustrators. Also, the creative director at CE, Jim Hastings, was a very fine illustrator who was a buddy of Stan Galli in SF. They worked together for many years. Jim was spectacular at ink line work and influenced me a great deal."


"Even though I worked as a team with automotive illustrators, I also rendered quite a few cars. Often the deadlines on the catalog art were pretty tough. I usually pitched in and painted a few cars just to get the stuff done. All the scans I sent you are cars that I rendered."


"The watercolor of the birds was just done for fun and to enter in the exhibition... it won first prize (The fine art staff was really pissed when I was accepted in the Michigan Artists Shows)."


"The year was 1967."

"Al Hutt, a great salesman (which artists need), had worked for New Center Studios and Fred McNabb, a spectacular graphic designer who worked at Art Group, decided to start a new studio. They hired the best talent they could find. It was a terrific place, the best studio at that time."

"Mark English was one of their artists. We were doing amazing things at that time... graphic design as well as illustration. We had some of the best talent that Detroit could offer. Bob Witmer was repping us in Chicago and we got a lot of work from there also."


"Illustration was still pretty lucrative at that time. Of course, I worked in several different areas of the business, so I was always quite busy."


"It's hard to believe, but from 1964 through 1968 I was also teaching full time at the Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts. My former teacher asked me to - and I accepted. It was a very interesting idea and a way to give something back ... something I really wanted to do."


"I used to bring in actual assignments from various clients of mine and give them to the students as assignments. The ones who won had their work printed and even got paid! A very unusual and effective way to teach, I thought. Probably never done before. I taught Illustration, graphic design as well as cartooning. I was also the head of the advertising department."


"After graduating from high school [in 1947], an artist friend and I went to New York to visit artists and cartoonists. We even took a train out to Mineola, Long Island and visited Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who lived across the street from each other."

"I had a very talented student, Bob (B.K.) Taylor... well, Bob's work was really terrific, so I contacted Joe Simon [who was then editing SICK magazine] and showed him some of Bob's stuff, and he thought it was great and I had Bob do a few covers as well as some inside stuff. Joe also wanted me to do a few things for him, which I did, under the name " The Professor".


"If I remember correctly, [when Bob] got the check for $150 [for the first cover assignment] he called Joe and asked if they had left a "0" off."

"Bob and I also visited Joe in NY and he remembered me from my 1947 visit. Bob and I did quite a bit of work for SICK, in spite of the low pay. We had fun doing it."



*Harry Borgman is still very active in the arts at age 79. He has a website where you can see many examples of his recent work.

*Today's images can be found in my Harry Borgman Flickr set.

1 comment

  1. I had never heard of Harry Borgman, that I can remember. But I think his long successful career in Detroit and expanding to New York and Chicago, helps support a theory I had in my career. That is, if I could do a lot of different things as a commercial artist, with solid professional quality, I could stay busy and make a good living... decade after decade. Harry Borgman’s quality was and is consistently high in everything he tackles. His range from strongly designed, fine arts landscapes for Ford Times covers, to meticulous and accurate automobile illustrations, on one hand... to numerous styles of graphic design and cartoon illustrations, is amazing. But looking at his illustrations when he was a teenager, as well as taking on the complexities of a comic strip in high school, it doesn’t surprise me that he could handle whatever he decided to try as an artist. His early work was as mature as many seasoned professional illustrators. And why doesn’t it surprise me that he is still going strong... BRAVO, Harry Borgman!

    Tom Watson

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