Monday, April 02, 2012

The Flower Power of the Early 1970s Illustration Scene

When we hear the term "Flower Power" we immediately think of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine, psychedelic rock posters, and the "Summer of Love" -- the trippy, hippy 1960s.


But it wasn't until the spring of the '70s that Flower Power really blossomed in the pages of most major magazines. As with all things, it takes the mainstream a while to co-opt the culture of the trend makers. Once the Mad Men (and their clients) realized the selling power in groovy graphics...


They began using Flower Power for everything from feminine hygiene products...


... to lightbulbs...


... to grape juice.


Even Rubbermaid got in on the act. (After all, flower gardens need fences, right?)


One favourite early '70s ad campaign of anyone who was around at the time (myself included) was for Clairol's Herbal Essence Shampoo.


It's popularity was due to a series of truly lovely animated tv commercials. I remember watching these as a 10 year old kid and being mesmerized by them - and we only had a black and white television set back then!

So who - or what - was responsible for so thoroughly transforming the visual landscape of popular culture in the early 1970s? Some people credit this man...


Peter Max had studied under Frank Reilly at the Art Student's League in the mid-'50s. In 1962 he and friend, Tom Daly, formed a small art studio in New York, "The Daly and Max Studio." In 1968, Max's popular animated tv commercials for 7-Up propelled him into the public spotlight. Sales of his art posters and other branded merchandise skyrocketed as a result.

No doubt Max deserves credit for heavily influencing the direction of illustration in the following years. But he was hardly the only driver.


This week, a look at the illustration art of the early '70s and some of those who helped bring it about.


  1. Is it just me, or does the art in the article look rather like paintings by European 'Nabi' artists of the early 20th century -- Bonnard, Denis, Vallotton, Roussel?

  2. I was soaking this up as a teenager (US); it really influenced my love of pattern in painting. Easy to do, too; after all, it's hardly academic figure drawing, is it?
    For that satisfaction we were being shown the excellent figures by Alphonse Mucha, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

  3. The Welch's ad looks like it could be by Don Weller. I will call him to see if he recognizes it-

  4. Faaaaaar Out, Man!

  5. thank you for sharing

  6. What ever happened to Tom Daly, Peter Max's partner in the studio The Daly and Max Studio???

  7. Anonymous2:14 PM

    I would also like to know what happened to Tom Daly.......