We've seen a wide variety of small spots this week that demonstrate just how conscientious mid-century illustrators were about doing their best work - despite knowing that work would be printed at a size far too small to be properly appreciated with the naked eye.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the remarkable full colour paintings done for many mid-'50s magazine ads. These miniature scenes were reproduced at about the size of a postage stamp...
... but just look at the effort that went into rendering them.
Here's another ad - several small full colour spots done in a somewhat different technique...
... but still remarkably detailed for such a small canvas.
Who were the artists who created such proficient work? They were probably among the ranks of talented but largely anonymous illustrators like Charlie Allen, who did many fully painted ads of this type for Kaiser Aluminum.
Charlie described these assignments (which he painted in gouache at just two or three times up) as being "considered by agencies and by illustrators as a real 'plum' account on which to work."
"[The client] seemed to me remarkably relaxed about product details," wrote Charlie. "The scenes and product details were very much left to the artist to create."
For Charlie, not only were these fun and lucrative assignments, they provided a young west coast artist more used to working on regional assignments the rare opportunity of sharing the stage with his 'celebrity' peers because Kaiser's ads ran in wide circulation national magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Newsweek, Time, etc.
I'll just bet Charlie got a kick from seeing his signature on those ads in those publications. Although, of course, being ever the humble practitioner of his art, you'd hardly know the work was signed if you didn't have our ability to blow up those tiny panels to a decent size. (See it in the bottom RH corner of the image above?)