Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Starting a new career

In the last post I discussed my Chevrolet photo shoot in the Andes. If I can locate the photos I took during that time I will post them and tell you a bit more about that crazy venture. Meanwhile....

How I was hired in a top position at Campbell Ewald is also an interesting story. When Dave Lindsay, one of the top Detroit automotive artists, and I left McNamara Brothers studio we joined MDM Studios and became partners with Gordon McGowan, Mike Doyle and Len McCullogh, all illustrators that had started the studio about a year before.
In the tough, competitive advertising art world of Detroit we did quite well as we had some very talented designers and illustrators. Our sales staff brought in a lot of catalogs, brochures and other automotive related design assignments which in turn created illustration work for our artists. During this period I didn't do any illustration, only graphic design work. We were incredibly busy and I literally worked day and night. After a year I was burned out and decided to quit the studio art business and try to get a job as an art director in an ad agency. Dave also quit and went back to McNamara Brothers.
I decided to talk to Jim Hastings who had been hired by Ted Little, CEO of Campbell Ewald, to work on the Chevrolet account and to bring new life to the agency. Jim knew of my work and was very interested in hiring me, even though I had never worked in an agency before. He liked to hire art directors with art studio experience.
At the same time, the head art director on Chevrolet Sales Promotion was out in Los Angeles on a photo shoot with Dinah Shore who was the star of the weekly Chevy Show on TV. Well, he got drunk one night and knocked on her door in the middle of the night. She was furious and called her good friend and President of General Motors who promptly called CE and told them to fire the art director. I was immediately hired. Talk about being at the right place at the right time !
Another interesting thing that worked in my favor was that when I walked into my first meeting with the Chevrolet advertising managers, they all said "Hi Harry !". Ted Little, Jim Hastings and the rest of the CE staff were very surprised and impressed. I had met most of the ad managers previously, as at McNamara's we used to do a lot of work directly with Chevrolet.

CE 1

My first assignment was to design and produce the 1957 Chevy catalog. I used McNamara Studios because I wanted Dave Lindsay to paint the cars. On the above cover Dave did the cars and Jim Jackson painted the figures.

CE 2

I also had the responsibility to create all of the promotion for the Corvette. This cover was painted by Bob Sutton, I'm not sure which studio he was with, possibly Graphic House. Bob and I had previously worked together at McNamara's.

My department was extremely busy with a mountain of Chevrolet promotion material including all the catalogs as well as the Corvette Magazine. At the time, I only had one other art director, Paul Samuelson, and had to hire two more to help out, Jim Bernardin who had previously worked on the Studebaker account and Tom Clarke.

1 comment:

Leif Peng said...

Great story, Harry! My gosh, when you look at the state of 'The Big Three' today, it must make you thank your lucky stars that you were involved during their heydays, and not now...

As always, thanks for sharing!