In the late 1970's my wife and I were getting restless and we wanted to try living somewhere else, we were looking for a total change of scene. The illustration business in Detroit was changing quite a bit because of photography taking over in the automotive area, although I still was quite busy out of Chicago and New York. At the time I was doing a lot of freelance work for Bob Shepperly at McCann-Erikson in NY. They would fly Bill Wallace and myself in, sometimes for weeks at a time to produce comp layouts for their Buick and Opel client meetings. We worked as a team, Bill would design the ads and I would do all the comp renderings. While working there I found out that there was a job opening for an art director at McCann's Sao Paulo office in Brazil. I immediately applied for the job (after discussing it with my wife who loved the idea. I didn't land the job, another art director from Detroit did, I believe his name was Bill Gilmore. Jeanne and I then decided to move to Paris, France. She intended to get a Art History degree from the American College in Paris and I would hopefully do some commercial work and a lot of fine art painting. We packed up, sold our house and were on our way. Jeanne actually left a few weeks before me to find us an apartment and also the school semester was starting. As you probably have guessed we are adventurous types and dove right in.
Here is a painting of Jeanne in Paris. Her parents were French-Canadian and she spoke French, although the French were quite amused at her accent. I spoke little French but had no trouble as all the art directors I dealt with wanted to practice their English. I took French lessons and as time went on my French improved. I did a lot of painting while I lived there and managed to exhibit in all of the major French painting salons. I began working commercially almost immediately as well. I have had a great amount of luck in my career throughout the years and luck followed me to Paris. A neighbor across the street from our apartment on the Rue de L'Assomption saw me working at my drawing board one night and a couple of days later when I was walking our dog, she came over and said that her brother owned one of the more important advertising agencies in France and she would introduce me to him, talk about luck ! The other break that I got was when I took samples over to Lintas, one of the top ad agencies there, I found that the Creative Director was someone that I helped to get a job at Campbell Ewald twenty years earlier in Detroit. Bob McLaren had come over from London looking for work in Detroit. I lost touch with Bob over the years and he finally ended up back in London and later was transferred to the Paris office of Lintas. It was a wonderful break and they became one of my best clients. Lintas even sent me to Jakarta, Singapore and Madrid to teach their art staffs how to render comps and storyboards. I was also sent to their Vienna office a couple of times to do comp layout work.
We did a lot of traveling while we were in Europe. Here is a painting of the beach at Normandy. Being a freelancer I had time off and could join Jeanne's class when they took field trips to interesting places as part of the course. We bused to many places including various locations in France, Italy, England and Belgium. The paintings below are of the Tuilleries in Paris.
One of my very best clients was IMPACT-FCB, here are a couple of comp layouts that I believe were done for them. The art buyer at IMPACT was Annebelle Potin who presently is the art buyer at Publicis. I still keep in touch with her thanks to the internet.
More paintings and many more ad illustrations and comps done in Paris in future posts.