Monday, April 14, 2008

Bob Peak - "the envy of many an old hand"

By the time the ad below appeared in a Fredman-Chaite Studio promo pamphlet in January 1954, Bob Peak's art had already graced campaigns for Pall Mall, Dacron, Admiral radio, Philip Morris, Telechron, Celebrity Bra and United Steel.

At that point the young artist, just 27 years old, had been in New York for less than one year.

In his article in Illustration magazine #6, Thomas Peak, the artist's son, writes about his father's determination to make it in 'the big time'. Peak had just married his art school sweetheart, Lucille Tedesco, in 1952. The two had met and fallen in love while they were both attending Art Center School in Los Angeles.

Barbara Bradley, who attended Art Center School in the years just before Peak, remembers, "One of our scholarship jobs at Art Center was to re-pack portfolios that had been submitted for acceptance. [I was] on duty when we packed one that was so outstanding, we took note of the name. was Bob Peak’s. Even pre- Art Center, he packed everything into a piece. I still remember one about Hollywood or Hollywood Blvd... that was probably composite-like. And that became the Peak who so successfully did movie posters, packed with everything!"

But long before he would produce those well known iconic movie posters for Apocolypse Now, Roller Ball, Star Trek, Superman and so many other, this young Bob Peak was attempting to distinguish himself in the most competitive illustration market in America.

Tom Peak writes, "my dad spent three solid months assembling a sizeable portfolio of his work while my mother worked a full-time job to support them. He took the satchel with him when they left for New York City in 1953."

"Armed with little more than self-confidence and ambition when he arrived in New York, Bob was able to land a job at the [Fredman] Chaite Studios. Though he made very little money, he was working in the company of a number of other fine illustrators."

Its those early years of Bob Peak's career that most interest me, so this week let's look at the artist Fredman-Chaite described as the "youthful Bob Peak... envy of many an old hand."

* I have many people to thank for assisting me with this week's topic: Barbara Bradley, Charlie Allen, David Apatoff, Tom Watson for their advice, opinions, information and scans, and Dan Zimmer for allowing me to excerpt passages from Tom Peak's article in Illustration magazine, which are ©2003, 2008 by Tom Peak, Dan Zimmer and The Illustrated Press, Inc., and all artwork © The Estate of Robert Peak.

There is much, much more on the artist at Bob

My Bob Peak Flickr set.


  1. I've been reading the blog for awhile and wanted to say how much I love it. It's become a daily destination for me. Peak's line work is excellent. I love his use of negative space in the last drawing and how easily he can suggest form and atmosphere with just a few well placed strokes of the pen. I look forward to the rest of the week

  2. Thanks, Craig - I really appreciate hearing from you, and thanks for the nice plug on your blog! :-)

    You're remarks about peak are dead-on... and its his early work that I find best exhibits those qualities you mention, so stay tuned - there's more to come that we can all learn from and be inspired by.

  3. Anonymous11:49 AM

    I prefer Peaks early work too. There's more linework and less airbrush effects.

    Apparently Peak was classmates with Jack Potter at Art Center. They'd run into one another from time to time.