Friday, November 28, 2008

Catalog season was a real challenge

Comet 1

The car catalog season was an extremely busy time for artists in Detroit. Our freelance group was hard at work on Chevrolet art when another catalog assignment popped up. Jack Mills and I were asked to do all of the illustrations for the 1962 Mercury Comet catalog, the ad agency was Kenyon & Eckhardt and I believe that the art director was Lowell Jackson. We were doing art for two catalogs which wasn't unusual, as many artists would often work for competing clients or ad agencies at the same time.

Comet 10

On this illustration I hired a model to photograph the foreground gal and used my kids and Bob Witmer, our rep, for the other figures.

Comet 2

I had to search for reference on this scene, fortunately I lived near a couple of marinas. After composing the scene and doing a small color sketch I would do a pencil drawing and then block in the background with paint to establish color values and lighting, then Jack would render the car. When he was pretty much finished, I would continue working on the background, adding details and modifying color, until I was done, then he would add the final touches to the car.

Comet 9

A close up of the illustration to show you the details. Another hired model was used for this illustration.

Comet 3

Not all the illustrations required a full background. I rounded up some neighborhood girls to pose for me on this one. Like many illustrators, I used a Poloroid camera for most of the figure shots because you got an instant photo, no need for film development or a darkroom, a real time saver. Also you could immediately see if the pose was right or if you needed to take more shots. All these illustrations were rendered on Whatman cold-pressed illustration board with Windsor and Newton Designer's Colors. When we finished the illustration, our rep would take it over to the agency for the art director's and the automotive engineer's approval. More Comet illustrations on the next post.

Comet 8


Oscar Solis said...

Beautiful work there. What was the turnaround time on an average illustration (of course no illustration is ever average as they all come with their own problems and solutions)?

I'm glad you have this blog. I have your books, which I consider essential reading for the information they have, but also because I enjoy just looking at the art. I like the fact that as an illustrator you didn't stick to just one style or medium, but explored and used them all in your work.

I look forward to seeing more everyday.

Oscar Solis

Harry Borgman said...

Hi Oscar, Thanks for your comments and also for looking at my blog which I will post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My other blog, Hairy Blogman, will be posted on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
If I remember correctly, to paint one of these background illustrations probably took me two full days, then Jack would probably take another two days to finish rendering the car.
I've always been prone to working in various styles and mediums but it can work against you somewhat as the art directors can't categorize you.
I'm pleased that you enjoy my books.

Anonymous said...

Mr Borgman,

My name id Don Harding and I am a board member of the Comet East Car Club. I would like your permission to reprint your Comet post in our non-profit newsletter. Our club is chartered for the conservation of Mercury Comet automobiles. Please contact me at