Imagine it's 1959 and you're one of the most highly regarded illustrators in America, with a long and storied career.
You've just landed a fabulous assignment: a series of paintings for a major national advertiser. Not only will this be a very high profile campaign, it'll also be extremely lucrative (I think I can conservatively estimate the payday was, in 1959 dollars, the equivalent of what would be at least $100,000 today).
You've just completed the first painting in the series when the client calls... telling you they're pulling the job from you and giving it to a hot new talent - a virtual unknown; a mere kid - who is suddenly the talk of the town.
That's exactly what happened to Austin Briggs when Bernie Fuchs scooped the 1959 Seagrams V.O. campaign out from under him (four illustrations from that series by Fuchs are shown here).
Considering the hit Briggs took, it's hard to believe that he and Bernie Fuchs subsequently became life-long friends, but in fact they did.
David Apatoff recounts this incredible story in his issue-length Bernie Fuchs article in Illustration magazine #15. David also describes how Robert Fawcett took great pleasure in surprising Briggs by bringing the young Bernie Fuchs to his house to meet the older artist, specifically to "twist the knife" in Briggs' wound.
Perhaps Fawcett realized what a force they were all dealing with in Fuchs, "a skinny kid who didn't look old enough to order a beer," as one person who was there described him. After all, that same year Fawcett had to share a major ad campaign of his own...
... with the kid from Detroit; Bernie Fuchs.
Below, a photo of Bernie Fuchs from Famous Artists magazine, 1967 - courtesy of Matt Dicke.