American (c)ART(oon)IST

Cartoons were popular in all kinds of advertising in the mid-century -- but perhaps nowhere more than in advertising directed at artists. The ad pages of old 1950s issues of American Artist magazine are a virtual goldmine of cartoon styles and subjects.

Well known art materials suppliers like Bainbridge...

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... Speedball...

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... and Royal Crest seem to have felt that the best way to win over customers was to take a lighthearted approach - often running long series of cartoon ads month after month...

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... even year after year.

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No American Artist advertiser was more committed to cartoon art than the Iddings Paint Company, which ran small space ads in the back pages of the magazine that featured a new, tiny, always beautifully crafted cartoon nearly every month throughout the '50s.

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Its also interesting to see how competitors sometimes chose remarkably similar ad concepts. Both of these pencil ads appeared in the same issue of AA -- both featuring cartoon art.

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Meanwhile, Marshall's had a different idea. Though still using cartoon art.

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I don't know how many other people there are out there who will share my fascination with this stuff. It is admittedly pretty obscure; but I love it. In fact the smaller the ads, the greater my delight for the tiny images that decorate them.

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I can't help but marvel at the quality of the work done by these (usually anonymous) advertising cartoonists. This was not the work of amateurs.

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Who drew all this marvelous stuff? Some thoughts and some clues... tomorrow.

* My Ads with Cartoon Elements Flickr set.

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