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"Every minute I could I banged away, hunting chords on the old upright," Carmichael recalled; "there are no sounds more irritating than unfound music" - Hoagy Carmichael, early days in Bloomington, Indiana

Author Topic: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements  (Read 990 times)

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Offline Mr. Jelly Roll

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Hello Folks,

so this here is a question that has nothing to do with musicians but people who visualized the music we all love: The graphic designers from the old days.
I am talking about the people who did all the fabulous drawings and letterings on those advertisements for the race records of Paramount, OKeh, Victor, Black Patti etc etc.
DOES ANYONE KNOW THE NAMES OF THESE GRAPHIC DESIGNERS?
In the Tefteller Calendar that I purchased every Christmas for the last nine years, there are tons of awesome graphics every year but no indication to the people who are responsible for them. Plus, they never wrote their names under their drawings. In a recent Dust-To-Digital facebook post, R. Crumb talked about old graphics in a video (....which btw is also hilarious!!!) and said that these people never earned any money and were quite unknown but worked their butts off to achieve that. Crumb himself is obviously very inspired by the old stuff in his own work.

I'd be glad to hear from anyone that knows something!

All the best - Ferdi Jelly Roll

Offline CF

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2016, 06:17:39 AM »
Nothing is known about the artists, unfortunately
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline Stuart

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2016, 08:44:37 AM »
I've wondered about who the artists were for years. As for Crumb's statement that they never made any money, I'd like to see the evidence that they all worked for free. My guess is that they were either staff or that the work was outsourced. Advertising and marketing were a necessary part of doing business. The record companies were, after all, businesses. And print was the primary medium.

Offline Longsands

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2016, 09:08:28 AM »
The book ?The Hearing Eye: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Visual Art? by Graham Lock and David Murray states:
?With regard to the Paramount advertisements in the African American newspapers, these were the outcome of an initiative by British born salesman Art Satherley, who convinced the executives at Port Washington that they should advertise in the Defender, which had a circulation figure of 200,000 per issue.  Blues researchers and historians Stephen Calt and Gayle Wardlow noted that a young employee, Henry Stephany, prepared the material and an unspecified Milwaukee company did the layouts.  Photographs were taken of some of the artists by Dan Burley, a black employee of the newspaper, by arrangement with Mayo Williams?? 
That?s where the on-line preview of the book runs out, unfortunately?

Offline Stuart

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2016, 09:27:50 AM »
Thanks for the info, Longsands. One of the local libraries has it, so I'm going to check it out. OCLC also lists it as an e-book, so some libraries may provide access to the entire book, depending on what e-book subscriptions they have.

Online jpeters609

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2016, 10:57:32 AM »
The book ?The Hearing Eye: Jazz & Blues Influences in African American Visual Art? by Graham Lock and David Murray states:
?With regard to the Paramount advertisements in the African American newspapers, these were the outcome of an initiative by British born salesman Art Satherley, who convinced the executives at Port Washington that they should advertise in the Defender, which had a circulation figure of 200,000 per issue.  Blues researchers and historians Stephen Calt and Gayle Wardlow noted that a young employee, Henry Stephany, prepared the material and an unspecified Milwaukee company did the layouts.  Photographs were taken of some of the artists by Dan Burley, a black employee of the newspaper, by arrangement with Mayo Williams?? 
That?s where the on-line preview of the book runs out, unfortunately?


Looks like the first chapter of the book is the only portion that talks about these old blues ads. But it's by Paul Oliver, so I suspect it's quite good. The chapter is called, "Selling That Stuff: Advertising Art and Early Blues on 78s." I wouldn't mind giving it a read.
Jeff

Offline Longsands

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2016, 02:18:06 AM »
The following link is for a blog article by Mike Rugel on the use of photography versus illustrations in early blues advertising, which adds a few more details to the Paramount quote above.  He?s quite harsh on the illustrations, describing them as offensive products of white advertisers out of touch with black culture.  I?d say he certainly has a point in some cases, but not all.
http://musiccritic.purplebeech.com/2010/05/introduction-of-photography-in-race.html   

Online jpeters609

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2016, 07:11:25 AM »
The following link is for a blog article by Mike Rugel on the use of photography versus illustrations in early blues advertising, which adds a few more details to the Paramount quote above.  He?s quite harsh on the illustrations, describing them as offensive products of white advertisers out of touch with black culture.  I?d say he certainly has a point in some cases, but not all.
http://musiccritic.purplebeech.com/2010/05/introduction-of-photography-in-race.html   

The blog post is interesting, but I believe the author errs in assuming that the Skip James ad found in one of John Tefteller's blues calendars is an accurate reproduction of how the ad originally appeared when published in a newspaper such as the Chicago Defender. In this case (and I assume in others, as well, though I don't own all the calendars), it looks like Tefteller added the Skip James photo to the layout of the newspaper ad. I am fairly certain the photo, though vintage, was not found until fairly recently and was never used in Paramount advertising. Tefteller probably wanted to include the photo in his calendar and felt it was appropriate to incorporate it into the layout of a vintage ad.
Jeff

Offline Rivers

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2016, 05:04:19 PM »
Hmmm, if correct that's pretty dodgy. I do own all the calendars.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2016, 05:05:22 PM by Rivers »

Online jpeters609

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2016, 07:26:13 AM »
The Skip James photo in question first made its appearance (I believe) in a Yazoo CD release, with no provenance provided. It later appeared in one of Tefteller's calendars, incorporated into the layout of a vintage Paramount ad. On the Real Blues Forum recently, Tefteller indicated that he is in possession of several snapshots taken by a record executive while traveling through the Delta region in the 1930's. These photos include the Skip James photo (below), as well as an additional Skip James photo and a few of Son House and Furry Lewis, as well as others. Apparently, they are all candid shots, without guitars or other musical content. So far, the Skip James photo is the only one that has seen the light of day, but I assume Tefteller will eventually release them all, perhaps in future calendars. At any rate, these photos were personal snapshots and did not originally appear in newspaper ads in the 30's, even though the Skip James photo may have been presented that way in the blues calendar.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 07:27:27 AM by jpeters609 »
Jeff

Offline banjochris

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1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2016, 07:38:02 AM »
Yes it was in one of the red Times Ain't Like They Used to Be notes, which would make it volume 5 or 6.

Offline TenBrook

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2016, 07:58:38 AM »
Here's a nice post on the subject though it unfortunately doesn't shed any new light on who created the ads.

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/the_amazing_old_paramount_records_ads_that_inspired_r._crumb

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2016, 09:07:37 AM »
Commercial Artists , which was the term applied to any Artist not doing "FineArt" were almost always anonymous, still are. When Crumb says that they didn't make "any" money he means that they weren't paid much. Its also important to point out that there was not a specific style for Blues advertising and you might have seen ads for soft drinks or shoes that were fairly similar. It would not be impossible to track down the names of the artists who made these ads, I'm sure the Defender's archives would have invoices, or perhaps Paramount or other record companies would if they could be found. Short of that, The Society of Illustrators has fairly extensive records of who did what.
 
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Stuart

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2016, 04:45:03 PM »
Thanks, Phil. I checked and it looks like The Chicago Defender has archives (for the issues) that can be accessed via ProQuest and through subscribing libraries. The organization itself might have info about the artists.

I got hold of The Talking Eye, but haven't had a chance to do anything more than browse Paul Oliver's chapter.

Thanks for the tip on The Society of Illustrators. I'm sure that the people who illustrate the printed page for a living--the ones that we all have seen but probably never gave much thought to--have led interesting lives and deserve more recognition than they'll ever receive. I looked through the "Hall of Fame" and saw a few familiar names. I remember reading something somewhere last year about Ted and Betsy Lewin, and it mentioning his wrestling career when he was younger. Like I said, interesting lives.

http://www.societyillustrators.org/default.aspx

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: 1920's/30's graphic designers for race record advertisements
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2016, 08:59:56 AM »
The New York Public Library has a vast image collection, including images from periodicals, as I assume does the Library of Congress. It may be possible to trace these vis on- line inquiries
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

 


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