More on an illustration style that was the dominant norm in the 1960′s and has vanished, an artifact from a bygone era. But it could come back…
Art Chantry:For the last couple of days, I’ve been talking about this illustration style of the 60′s that was so dominant and is now lost and forgotten. I cited a few fine examples and practitioners of the style – mostly centered around mad magazine, Don Barnham at Hallmark and Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
But, the real truth is that… it was so widely worked with and so easy to learn that hundreds of names can be found that were masters of the style. Yesterday I mentioned Dick Sutphen, who later became a hippie new age channeling guru and self-hypnosis expert (“quit smoking TODAY!”). but, while he was an ad guy, he made clip art books and made a living doing this same style (within some personal variances.)
I also have several other examples by virtually unknown people who also seem to have been real masters of the look. i have two old promotional posters that look so much like Dan Barnham’s style, that for a long time I thought they were drawn by him. They weren’t. It was some other guy I’ve never heard of before.
And today, I’m showing off in a quick post another little Hallmark novelty book. the Hallmark greeting card company seemed to have for a very long time a little publishing arm that made little gift books like this (they seem to be almost copy-catting the amazing ‘peter pauper books’ presentation).
This little book, a collection of “great American wit” – with excerpts from Mark Twain, Will Rogers and other copyright-free source materials – is extensively peppered with illustrations that are exactly in this style I’m discussing. It looks almost identical to those dirty wrapping paper samples I posted. They are almost identical to Dick Sutphen’s images and Sergio Aragones’ images. It even looks close enough to Dan Barnham’s work to be a talented older brother.
I say “older brother”, because this little cheezy gift book is dated 1961. That’s a full seven years before the copyright date (1968) in the Barnham Hallmark book i posted yesterday. so, any attempt to say Barnham originated this look is totally shot out of the water.
The illustrator is a fellow named “Louis Marak”. the actual book is “designed” by someone named ‘Harald Peter.’ but, I don’t think he did much more than set the type and paste it up. Even the cover ‘design’ looks like it was carefully drawn by Marak. It’s a pip, ain’t it?
The typeface design actually seems to be an existing typeface that was almost the corporate typeface of hallmark during the mid-60′s period. So, Marak didn’t design the type or lettering (so far as i know). If you look closely you can spot the repeating letter-forms over and over. It’s used throughout this book and in all Hallmark product of a like style.
I’ve never seen an actual full font of thi
peface design, so I have no idea if it was generally available or exclusively used by Hallmark corporate. A friend of mine (Sean ‘Craphound Tejeratchi) put together as complete a font as I’ve seen – lifted from printed samples, letter by letter by punctuation point. So, i’ve actually used this type design in some of my work. It’s still amazing spectacular and completely viable.
But the illustration style of Louis Marak is highly refined and carefully and exquisitely rendered, yet totally goofball. He was a real professional master – whoever he was.
As you folks go out (you may or may not) on your own and start to find samples of this sort of weird illustration style that is so completely lost in time, you may discover other major practitioners of this period style that could be really ‘cool.’ is you do, please share with me, ok? I’d like to know.
Art Chantry:speaking of hippies – this style also became a sort of “corporate psychedelia”, too. when the corporate “big boys” saw all them kids cashing in on that crazy hippie artwork, they attempted to cash in on it, too. before long the hallmark c…ards (and especially all their competitors) were adding swirling dayglo colors and adding flowers to everything and they had ‘psych’ greetings cards and the like. before too long there were plastic stickum versions of those “foney phlowers” on every VW in america. and before too much longer again, you saw things like the graphics on ‘laugh-in’ emerge. when professional publishers started to cash in on the psych look (with all those fake version of MAD and TIGER BEAT came along) it was covered with this same style as all these examples – but done in ‘fake psych’ inoffensive trappings. now we look back and only see ‘psychedelic art’. but, it wasn’t really anything like the REAL authentic hippie psych style. it was a fake corporate psych style created to fool the kids into spending more money. so, this lost never really died out completely. it sort of morphed into more pop trash.
Art Chantry:but, did this illustration style emerge from animation? i really don’t think so,. it really seems to be a separate beast that came from pop culture. certainly the popular culture of the era was deeply influenced by cartoon animation and the like. but, this seems to have come from a more lowbrow comedic tradition. there was a long and old tradition of valentines that were “insult valentines” – basically you gave them as insults to your friends. the tradition goes way back into the early 1800′s in europe. collectors of this stuff have fabulous collections and documentation. i think this illustration style almost comes more from THAT tradition, than the ‘cartoon modern space age look of mid-century animation. that’s my two bits. god knows the truth. Read More: http://www.artchantry.com/