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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The people who made MAD MEN look good - Part 1

Look around this blog and you will see I am a huge fan of print advertising. My main focus has been ads that pre-date1965, and certainly the older the better. 

I spend a lot of time examining these ads and trying to reverse engineer the time in which they were being read. How were people living? What did these ads do to influence that? I have also spent a lot of time poking fun at them; the times have changed which makes the product or the views of the people depicted in them obsolete.

I will pick up individual magazines from the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s in the hopes of finding something to post; however, last week I hit the mother lode of advertising content.
Bernard Burroughs
Bernard Burroughs in the 1950's poses for a "Selfie"

At a Westport CT estate sale I purchased well over 200 files containing ads, images, proofs and some correspondence of commercial illustrator Bernard Burroughs. These files encompass what a commercial illustrator would need to do his job…before the Internet.

By collecting samples of people, professions, locations and backgrounds from a multitude of angles, sketches can be developed and layout for an ad can begin. Also in with the clippings are a few photgraphs. The image below shows how photos were used to establish drawings for layout of an ad.

So few ads have original drawings in them these days. Most are photographs and/or computer designed images and the need for someone who is good with a pencil is rare.

Bernard Burroughs sketch for Wanamaker 1946Bernard Burroughs sketch

Bernard Burroughs who passed away in 1993 probably never planned to have some random digger step into his home and take all these clippings and consider them “gold.” However, he has provided me with a wealth of information on how he did his job and his contemporaries and predecessors as well by compiling collections of their work.

I have already posted one full ad I found in the pile here. Look for upcoming posts featuring the collection of B Burroughs and his peers.

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