Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Unique to Detroit: Catalog season !

When the automotive catalog season hit it meant that many illustrators would be tied to their drawing boards for a few months and working long hours, usually from April through July. Before that, in February and March, we would be preparing catalog and ad layouts, doing comps for the agencies to present to their clients. Once the layouts and car views were approved we would start by first having "car pencilers" come in and draw up the cars, then would begin rendering them as the pencil drawings were completed.

Chevy 8

This is an illustration that I did for the back cover of the 1962 Chevrolet catalog saver, even rendering the cars. The art director was Tom Clarke at Campbell Ewald, he used to refer to the agency as "Camp Bellywald".

Chevy 9

Another illustration painted for the same catalog. When I went on vacations or traveled anywhere I would frequently photograph scenes that could be used as backgrounds for car illustrations. You often don't have the time to look for and photograph background material when a job comes in with a tight deadline, it pays to think ahead. The above scene was shot in Manistee, Michigan

Chevy 12

In catalogs there are always a lot of smaller "spot" illustrations, these still have to be carefully checked for accuracy by the Chevy engineers.

Chevy 11

Another spot illustration. They are fun and easier to do than the larger, more complicated illustrations but you still have to come up with interesting background situations.

Chevy  10

Reference photographs of the new cars were supplied by the agency. We would have photostats made of the views we needed, then cut them apart to elongate or widen the cars before tracing the images on illustration board.
When the deadline approached I usually would pitch in and paint a few cars just to help get the work done. The deadlines were dead serious as the printers that were waiting for the art also had their own deadlines to meet. The catalogs and other promotional material had to be at the dealers when the new cars arrived in September or so. It all had the potential of turning into a complicated nightmare.


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