In Praise of Magic Markers


Not exactly an auto racing illustration, but close enough to qualify - and it gives me the opening I need to talk about something that has been a powerful influence on my career: the magic marker.

From the now defunct Magic Marker website:

" In 1952, inventor Sidney Rosenthal developed and began marketing the first felt tip marking device. A chubby, squat glass bottle to hold ink with a wool felt wick and writing tip [this describes the unusual appearance of the first magic markers], Rosenthal named his new marking device Magic Marker because of its ability to mark on almost every surface..."

I got into the business just as these odd little bottle markers were disappearing. But who knows how many illustrators in how many ad agencies in the decades between the 1950's and the 1980's breathed in the heady combination of cigarette smoke and benzene while frantically scrubbing out "renderings" to provide the art directors and suits anxiously hovering over his shoulder with the visuals they needed to sell their ad concept to the client waiting in the board room?

Today, with the arrival of computers, tablets and software like Photoshop and Painter, the term "marker renderer" has been shortened to just "renderer". Outside the industry ( and even within it ) the artists who continue to ply the trade remain largely anonymous. But I am steadfastly convinced that, as a group, renderers are among the most proficient and least appreciated commercial artists. I count myself lucky to be a minor light among some truly great illustrators.

To all of them ( and you know who you are ) this one's for you!

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