Concluding Albert Dorne's 1950 article from American Artist on "The Satisfaction of Compromise"...
In justification of the points I have made on this "satisfaction of compromise," the following is a specific case history out of my own experience.
Frank Eltonhead, art director of Cosmopolitan magazine, sent me a manuscript. Instructions were: over-all two page illustration in black and a second color - with carte blanche on choice of situations to illustrate. The locale was a farmyard at night - a fire raging in the barn. Principal characters; boy and girl, two big city gangsters and a prize cow.
The audience in mind being primarily women, I knew I couldn't actually show fire, so I worked out what I thought was a successful night scene. I created the illusion of fire by lighting the picture with a deep fiery glow from "off stage."
Two days later Mr. Eltonhead called and, in his customary charming manner, cooed into the telephone: "Albert, your drawing is swell but we are afraid our readers will not like it. The violent fiery red is a bit frightening, the interpretation too literal. We have found out from our readership polls, etc., etc., etc. Would you mind doing it over?"
Of course I minded doing it over, I exploded. Never in my life had anything so preposterous been asked of Dorne. I was really mad. Eltonhead continued to coo into the phone. "Why don't we have lunch and talk about it?"
At lunch the next day Eltonhead showed me a layout designed in a much lighter vein and quite gay in its concept. "This is the sort of thing our readers like," he said factually.
"Morons," I mumbled, and I made my usual number of statements about artistic charlatans. However I turned to Eltonhead and I thundered: "Frank, I'll do this job over - not because I agree with you but because I will not have it said that a job of mine was ever turned down." With bitter resentment I did a new drawing in the way it was wanted. I sent it in with a letter which I hope has since been destroyed. I was sure I was through with "Cosmo" and equally sure that they were through with me.
One morning about three months later the phone rang. Steve Dohanos said: "Al, that's a swell job in 'Cosmo' this month - fresh approach - gay - charming - you're improving, boy."
I rushed out and bought the magazine and there it was, a picture that fitted perfectly with the editorial policy of that magazine and for which I have since been complimented many times by the public, my colleagues, and art directors who said: "How about doing some of that good stuff for me?"
The result of that compromise was mighty satisfying. I wrote Frank Eltonhead and told him so.
By the way, friends, I work for Cosmopolitan quite regularly now. I do what I want to do but I know what is editorially right for them - and the money is just dandy!
* My Al Dorne Flickr set.