I’ve read a lot of bios from different artists and most of them say they have been influenced to paint a certain style or subject because of studying other artists work.
I can attest to being one of them. Back in my childhood days I use to draw Disney characters all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I scribbled out a pencil drawing of Disney’s Scamp from “Lady and the Tramp” or Mickey Mouse. I was particularly drawn to Scamp as I felt a closeness to him as I thought of myself as a bit of a rebel even back at 10 years of age.
As the years passed I still remember times I would entertain anyone who asked me to make a drawing for them and if I couldn’t think of something quickly I always resorted to scribbling out the Hero Scamp which most everyone thoroughly enjoyed and were marveled by my ability to capture his likeness. At one time I actually had aspirations of working for Disney as an animator but as I grew older dismissed the idea and moved on to marketing and graphic design.
What influenced me as a child changed to many different forms and styles of art when I reached adulthood. By the time I was in college I was a complete fan of top designers such as Herb Lubalin and Saul Bass. I was interested in their ability to transcend the everyday designs used for advertising and marketing and bring something special to the table. More importantly, their work was recognized worldwide as being the best of the best in their field.
To me, they had a unique talent that communicated whatever the given subject was in a fresh and thought provoking manner. Movie titles created by Saul Bass became instantly recognized by their extreme graphic style both in typography as well as motion graphics used for opening titles.
Herb Lubalin, on the other hand, was more of a designer’s designer, known and highly regarding by the design community. He created art with typography and was responsible for developing typefaces and using type forms as designs used in logos and movie titles.
For a while I followed in their footsteps as I became a type setter in New York City and set headlines for such accounts as Pam Am and other large clients of the large ad agencies of the day.
By the time I came to California I had a full grasp of how to use Typography and before long I landed a job where my talent to create Motion Picture Title Treatments blossomed. I remember one incident where another designer said “How can I make this headline look good, the lower case “g” bumps into the lowercase “p” and looks weird?” I just said, “Let them connect and don’t worry about it, it’s just type and use it as artwork.” That became my viewpoint of typography and it the same to this day. It’s an artform.
I developed many logos over time but one of my favorites was “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. The reason it is a somewhat unique experience is because I decided to design and produce the letter forms and arwork of the padlock with a magic marker and make it very rough looking. There was a meeting scheduled at the design firm I was working at to present the logo to the film’s producer and director, Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz.
I brought in the logo and left it on the table for them to discuss with my boss and shortly afterwards he came running out of the meeting and exclaimed,”They love it, don’t change a thing, don’t tighten it up or anything! They love it just the way it is!!!” I laughed and said, “OK. That was the finished logo. I intended it to be that way.”
Here’s the logo taken off the finished poster.
I think there can be any number of things or people that can influence an artist. It’s even better when the artist recognizes it.
Here’s another painting I produced years ago but for the life of me I can’t tell you what influenced me to make it. I think it was another attempt to develop a style. It’s oil on canvas.