Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Masters of Persuasion

Automotive art and design has shaped American culture for over a century. Advertising played a major role in creating brands that connect our emotions to a car's nameplate and defined what a car says about its owner. Although styling was the collaborative work of dozens of designers, modelers and engineers - advertising was often the creation of just a few individuals.

The illustrations Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman created for Pontiac in the 1960's defined the brand for generations. Fitzpatrick's masterful car illustrations combined with Kaufman's affluent background settings made for an unbeatable combination. They traveled the world on GM's dime to gather photos and inspiration for creating Pontiac's aspirational images. You may never get the chance to build your own sailboat - but somehow owning a new Pontiac helped get you a step closer.

This original illustration was used in the 1966 Pontiac Catalog.

It's hard to imagine Fitz and Van's influence today. But forty-five years ago, color television was in its infancy and photography was expensive. The Federal Trade Commission also frowned on any photographic "tricks" to lengthen or lower a car's looks. Artistic license was acceptable for illustrations.

Fitzpatrick worked under an exclusive arrangement with General Motors for 21 years. More recently he created a series of car illustrations for "America on the Move" postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service and was a consultant for PIXAR Studios' animated film Cars.

You don't have to find an original painting to acquire a Fitz and Van of your own. Magazine ads are easily found on ebay and limited edition prints can be purchased from Art Fitzpatrick himself. You can also get poster designed by Fitzpatrick from this year's EyesOn Design automobile show.

1 comment:

DrDonStoltz said...

My name is Dr. Don Stoltz. I built two cars for the guild in 1953 and1954 which I still have. I recenly learned about the reunions which I knew nothing about and would like to attend. But in light of the current GM troubles I was wondering if the guild still exists. Thank you,
Dr. Don Stoltz
9563 Walley Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19115
215 676 4082