Friday, November 16, 2007

Atlas: "More than Just Tires"

Throughout the 50's, Atlas Tires used a variety of multi-panel layouts for all its ads, whether they were for tires, batteries, anti-freeze or whatever other accessories the customer might need. Thanks to that design consistency, I'd say the company maintained a highly recognizable identity. Very laudable from a branding point of view.

Unfortunately, the format of many tiny panels (even with variations) tended to be a little dull.

A lot of well known illustrators worked on the Atlas account, including Stan Ekman...

Robert Moore (probably more than any other artist)...

Melbourne Brindle...

And even James Williamson, who's less realistic style and large image page design actually makes for the most interesting visual -- while still maintaining the overall Atlas brand look.

By 1960, the Atlas brand seems to have become associated with Esso in some manner. And the look of the 1950's Atlas ads is gone.

What's kind of interesting (and a little weird) about this later period Atlas ad is that the art was done by Ed Valigursky - who's career more often had him visualizing the fantastical future, not the ordinary everyday.

And speaking of Ed Valigursky, TI list member Ken Steacy has an Ed Valigursky book in the works. Drop by his site to sneak a peek and you'll see what I mean about Valigursky's more typical work.

* All of today's images have been added to my Auto Ads Flickr set. You'll want to look at the largest size versions to get a better view of the many tiny panels shown here.


  1. Hi Leif-- I have been looking at your blog for a while now, and yes, it is always inspiring!

    I especially like this tire post-- lots of really great art. I did a few tire illustrations myself back in the day. Painting tire treads-- yeah, big fun! (rolls eyes)



  2. Sigh.

    I love this site.

    Thank you for posting such great images!

  3. Rick and Jason;

    Thanks for your comments! Its very gratifying to hear that you're both getting a nice hit of illustration inspiration from my posts.


  4. Anonymous4:36 PM

    Just stumbled upon this and while I have no interest in illustration, I can shed some light on Atlas. It was actually a company formed and jointly owned by the former Standard Oil Companies to sell private label products through their services stations.

    Esso / Humble / Exxon, Standard of Indiana / Amoco, Standard of California / Chevron and others were partners in the Atlas brand.

  5. SeniorChief11:45 AM

    Anonymous is correct. My parents owned an Esso Station in Cold Spring, NY. My mother was the first woman to graduate from Humble Oil and Refining Company's Service Station Manager's School. Humble Oil was purchased by Standard Oil of New Jersey after the big Standard Oil break-up. SONJ became HUMBLE with the brand names: ESSO (S.tandard, ENCO (Energy Company) and their chemical division ENJAY (N.ew J.ersey). Standard Oil of California shared the brand name ESSO. It was SOCAs research division. Later laws were passed that caused Humb;e to change it's name to a single brand nation-wide and they couldn't share ESSO so it became EXXON. Standard Oil of New York (SOCONY) became MOBIL OIL now they are merged EXXON\MOBIL.