Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Frank Furlong: "Goodbye Lions and Hello Cowboys."

Frank Furlong was a young illustrator in Detroit during the mid-20th century when that city, feuled on high-octane auto industry dollars, was as much an epicenter of advertising art as New York. Previously Frank talked about the illustrator's life in Detroit, including freelancing, studios and art reps. The story continues... ~ Leif Peng

Frank writes...

"After we had become parents my wife and I decided to take a break and go off to Toronto. Far away places with strange sounding names. We were nothin' if not adventurous. But while we were still in the planning stage my car was totalled while parked. So needing a new car and now being a family man I bought a station wagon and it being air conditioned it made little sense to drive a car with AC north. So we headed south."


"I wanted to stop at Contemporary Cards in Kansas City and for reasons I still can't fathom I had representation in Oklahoma City so the trip that far was a business trip. We were curious as to what Texas was like and I wanted to meet Jack Unruh and Tom Bailey, whose work I had seen in the Illustrator's Annuals, so further south we went."

(Above: a Jack Unruh illustration for Ling-Temco-Vaught Inc, reprinted in Illustrators 10, 1968)

"I had brought along my samples so they wouldn't think I was just some yahoo, but a bona fide working yahoo (speaking of bona fides I hope you've looked up Frank to see I'm not just some long winded wannabe) and in lunches and drinks and such with them and Bart Forbes I was encouraged to show my wares to a film studio there in Dallas that wanted to branch out to print work. Keitz and Herndon offered me a pretty good raise but I didn't jump at it 'cause Detroit was my hometown, my home, my town."

Larry Herndon (l.) and Rod Keitz
(Above: Larry Herndon (L) and Rod Keitz) © Amid Amidi

My first job back was for an Art Director named Dallas Goes (really) and one night I got a call from K&H telling me I had to see a film by Saul Bass, "Why Man Creates" and, and this is gospel truth, sitting down to watch PBS with my wife on comes "Why Man Creates."

Okay God, I got the word. So the house goes up for sale and it was Goodbye Lions and Hello Cowboys.

"You asked for a chronology of time working in Detroit, and as best I can remember it was sorta like this:

I hit the bricks from school in the summer of '56 so let's give the first year to MDM and Allied Artists, both shorter than I'd hoped for.
So that puts me with Ivan T. Smith for two years, let's say '57 to '59 and Fairchild/Groeneveld for "59 to '61, New Center Studios from '61 to '64 and finally, Advertising Illustration from some time in '64 to my exit late in '68. And you can see how important I was to the biz 'cause shortly after I left, Detroit went to hell in a handbasket."


"Dallas was a pretty good time but the print work didn't really happen to the extent I had hoped for, but... K&H put me to work doing a lot of BGs and doing character design and eventually I even directed a couple lesser commercials."

"One thing led to another and it all led to me breaking off on my own, with a couple clients. One of them had Rice-A-Roni as his client and I wound up doing a couple cartoon opera commercials for Golden Grain spaghetti, still among my favorite jobs."

"An animator, a new friend, saw those thru production and he came in more than handy real quick. An agency in town wanted me to design 12 spots in 12 different styles. Now all that experimenting with styles paid off and I was one happy man. After I designed them the AD asked if I could produce them and I, in total ignorance, said sure. Now that new friend and his friends really saved my hide. As a result I had an education and a reel."

Concluded tomorrow.

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