Harry Borgman (who was the subject of a week of posts on Today's Inspiration last year and who now runs two blogs of his own) surprised me recently with a generous gift: the 1963 Detroit Art Directors Annual. Within those pages I discovered the work of Charlie Scridde, beginning with this gorgeous full page ad Schridde took out in that volume.
"Charlie Schridde is an old friend that I worked with many years," writes Harry, "we still see each other and keep in touch. Charlie did a great series of Motorola ads in 1961-62, you can google "Motorola ads Charlie Schridde".
Schridde has a website, and there I found an article that recounts how he landed the Motorola ad series that has developed a cult following among mid-century illustration afficionados.
When Charlie Schridde was working at New Center Studios in Detroit in the early sixties, the recently acquired Motorola account was the subject of an in-house contest. Each artist was asked to create a scene involving "a neat place to watch tv." As a result, Schridde's vision of sophisticated couples, near-future architecture and sumptuous, panoramic environments won the day. He continued creating the high-profile, double-page spread Motorola ads (which regularily appeared in both Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post) even after leaving New Center.
Harry also sent along the Chevrolet catalogue cover below, illustrated by Charlie Schridde. During Detroit's heyday, car catalogues were a major component of the assignments artists like Harry and Charlie could expect to get.
"When the automotive catalog season hit it meant that many illustrators would be tied to their drawing boards for a few months and working long hours, usually from April through July," writes Harry in a post on his blog called Unique to Detroit: Catalog Season! I highly recommend you give it - and Harry's other posts - a good read. Harry recounts in fascinating detail what the art business was like in Detroit during those glorious times, illustrated with beautiful examples of his (and other's) automotive artwork.
For Charlie Schridde, Detroit provided steady work for a very long time - though not neccessarily as an illustrator.
"When the illustration business was just starting to change around 1967," writes Harry, "Charlie saw it coming and became a very successful photographer."
In the article on his website, Scridde says of his switch to photography, "It was so much easier and it's still easier. You can do ten photographs in one day and if you do one painting in a week you're doing damn well." Schridde stayed in Detroit until 1993.
Returning to the '63 Detroit AD Annual, notice that the credits for the Charlie Schridde piece above mention Jim Bernardin was the art director. Harry hired Jim back when he (Harry) worked at the Campbell-Ewald agency on the Chevy account.
Jim has also started a blog, called Old Chevy Ads, which features an incredible selection of artwork by many of the illustrators we've previously discussed here, including our own Charlie Allen. Be sure to visit Jim's blog as well for more art and info from the Motor City's heyday.
* My Charlie Schridde Flickr set.