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Monday, December 14, 2015

The Illustrated Mind of Bernie Burroughs (and another coincidence)

My hobby qualifies me as the luckiest guy on Earth. If you have an eclectic/nostalgic interest there is no better way to appreciate all that has come before than to just go out and look for it. In 2013, I found my way to a Westport, CT estate sale in the midst of a clearing-out. The owner, Esta Burroughs, was moving into assisted living.  Inside, I found a home that was filled with the evidence of a spirit similar to mine. Esta's husband, Bernie Burroughs (died 1993), had created the type of things I enjoy most - advertising illustration. More specifically, advertising illustration from the mid-20th century.
This Camay ad isn't one of Bernie' Burroughs' though I could be wrong. It was among thousands of clipped samples I found when I purchased his "morgue." Essential to artists/illustrators who need a sample of a person, place or thing in just the right light or position, a morgue is a collection of clippings that may be used as a model to create a new illustration for a client.

When Bernie couldn't find the exact model/angle clipping he needed, he would just grab his trusty Polaroid and pose for it himself. Who says "selfies" were only a 21st Century thing? 

You are seeing the birth of an illustration from somebody who was there, working hard to satisfy an agency and their client. Do I know where this finally landed in the published world? Unfortunately not.
 The sad yet amazing coincidence is that when I decided to begin composing this post, I had no idea that I would discover that Bernie's wife Esta just passed away Friday at the age of 102.  Whenever I ask myself, "Why I am I doing this Urban Archeology thing?"  - The universe gives me an answer. Make of it what you will.
Rest in Peace, Bernie and Esta.  You can read a heartfelt post about Esta's passing here and several more articles relating to the Burroughs' and Westport CT in Dan Woog's terrific blog.

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