Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lynn Buckham: Detective Work on a Career Trajectory

A note yesterday from TI list member Aron Gagliardo of the American Academy of Art in Chicago:

"Leif, Glad to see you doing a blog on Buckham. There are 2 framed tear sheets of his in my office. I ran into the same trouble trying to find info on on him while working on a history of the American Academy of Art. Here's the slim bit I have from his student records."

"Buckham was from Minneapolis and studied at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for three years after serving time in the army. He then moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy of Art. Enrolling in Lettering & Advertising Art, Buckham studied here for a total 40 week period from early September 1940 to late June of 1941. One month into the Advertising Art class he transferred to Illustration."

Aron's information on Lynn Buckham's early days got me wondering about what came next. Chicago was a huge art market... perhaps Buckham spent his early professional years toiling in one of its many commercial art studios. Perhaps he even joined the famous "Sundblom Circle" (though this is pure speculation on my part). What we know for sure is that a decade later Buckham was in New York at the prestigious Charles E. Cooper studio.

The 1951 Art Directors Annual featured a Cooper Studio ad showcasing the work of another bright young talent, Joe Bowler. Cooper's ads always listed their staff of artists alphabetically and, as you can see, in 1951 there was no sign of Buckham.

But take a look at the Cooper Studio ad from the '52 Art Directors Annual.

Uh, no fellas, I meant take a look over here - at the alphabetical artist listing. As of 1952, Lynn Buckham had arrived.

Almost immediately, Buckham's work began appearing with regularity in Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post. I have never come across a credit line in any magazine for Lynn Buckham previous to his 1952 association with Cooper. Considering the professional quality of the 1953 piece below, this virtual unknown seems to have come out of nowhere, landed fully-formed in the best studio in America, and hit the ground running. He must have been the envy of peers and competitors. Talent and connections were no guarantee of assignments from the prestigious "Seven Sisters".

To better illustrate my point: In 1957 Lynn Buckham finally got to be the showcase artist in Charles Cooper's Art Directors Annual ad.

That same year Joe Bowler finally had his first piece published in The Saturday Evening Post.

* My Lynn Buckham Flickr set.

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