Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dailey Series... Rosarita Beans and Enchilada Sauce!

Rosarita Beans and Enchilada Sauce! What was I thinking? Although the prints are over saturated with red, if you look closely you'll notice that just about every can of sauce and beans is rendered... even in the wide shots! I must have been crazy! The set was an old western general store which was fun to draw and render, but sadly somehow I've managed to misplace those scenes. Also, notice the tag line in the fourth frame was rendered by hand in reversed type. Whoa!

I remember working with an art director at Young and Rubicam/ Los Angeles, when it was located in Mid Wilshire. Her name was Nancy SomethingOrOther and she worked on the Gallo account with people like Bud Robbins, Len Freas, and comp artists like Doug Morris, Mike Barry, Mike Sell, Kathy Coutts and a host of other talented artists and creatives. But Nancy noticed I had a penchant for doing type and, as illustrated in this storyboard for beans, I could be pretty intense about getting it right! I guess she saw me as an asset to her and the myriad of labels we had to draw from the bottles of wine put before us. And, Gallo made a plethora of varietals, so there was always work to be done. Nancy, very patiently, taught me how to do reverse type with gouache and soap on acetate. Eventually, companies like Dr. Martin, produced white outs that were chemically mixed to stick to any surface, but that was after I learned to the art of mixing just the right amount of paint with soap and water to produce the right consistency for stroking it without it curdling or cracking.

Mixing the concoction was the easy part. Doing particular typefaces with minimum brush strokes was the difficult part. The art director had a mesmerizing effect on me every time I watched her brush twist and glide across the overlay so effortlessly. Nancy had a technique for painting serifs that I never did perfect and she could render sentences cleanly in no time at all. After a while, and lots of practice, I got good at it and could do a sentence pretty quickly... like twice the time it took her! I also learned a lot a more about type than I ever received in any school.

Unfortunately, all those skills were short lived. One doesn't lose skills attained from those long, hard lessons... ever, but I can't say that after PMT's arrived, I was ever asked to paint reverse type on acetate again.

It does make one wonder about the term, "Something's Gained When Something's Lost!"

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Time to Gloat... My Nephew's the Best.

My nephew, Tony Fortier-Bensen batted .478 this season
I have one more post from my "Dailey Series," but this past weekend belongs to high school playoffs and my middle brother's son, Tony Fortier-Bensen, who has excelled in his senior year in baseball as well as academically. Tony batted .478 this season and actually went seven for seven and then, ten for ten during the regular season while anchoring the defense at shortstop.

Saturday afternoon, after winning their first playoff game against Barbe, H.S. by one run, Jesuit beat interstate rival Catholic High 3 to 2 and went on to beat the Lafayette Lions later that evening 5 to 4 to win the state 5AAA State Championship. It really was a thrilling series with a great team effort at the new Tulane stadium on a cool, breezy night. The Blue Jays won all their playoff games by only one run.

In my opinion, Tony Jr. should be voted Best High School Baseball Player in the New Orleans area, if not the entire state. Of course, having spent quite a few afternoons working with him on his skills and then, watching him play for over ten years, I guess I'm a touch bias.

Congrats, kid!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Dailey Series...Hunt's Barbecue Sauce/The Coupon...

In my long career, I can honestly say that I was never "stiffed" for a job. I always got paid, but there are many other ways to screw illustrators besides not compensating them for a job well done... or a job poorly done. Here's one example...

My wife, the coupon expert, actually found the above coupon in the food section of the LA Times. My first reaction was, wow, I've got a nationally printed piece, but my elation lasted about all of a minute or two. I quickly realized I was taken advantage of. I was angry as well as disappointed that my comp work was doubling as illustration.

In the beginning, I naively rendered tight comps to impress art directors that would surely see my talent and offer me real live illustrative jobs. I was angry because they used one of my pieces without paying me another nickel for it, but I was also disheartened that the agency used a comp that was not only one of my lesser pieces, but that it was being used as an illustration. Although I didn't complain to anyone at that time, I was livid. At that time, I didn't understand why they couldn't see this was not my best work and why they would not give me the opportunity to redo the comp as an illustration. For the record, I probably would have done the illustration gratis just to say, proudly, that I created artwork for a national client. On the flip side of the coupon, there was an altered portrait of Dick Van Dyke that I did for the storyboard. It too was poorly illustrated to imitate my comp style. In a strange way, I was glad that the agency didn't use my signature for this or any other promo that I illustrated without my knowledge. The irony of it all was more than I could handle as a rookie!

It was a lesson well-learned...

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Dailey Series...Hunt's Barbecue Sauce!

Back in the days when thicker was better, everyone seem to explore the standing knife trick. So, this concept had more than just four frames to prove this point and get the actor the most exposure possible.

The reproduction of these frames is pretty poor only because the original art was color xeroxed from prints.  This board was approved and a series of commercials was shot with Dick Van Dyke as the spokes person. Notice that type on the product and in the last frame was, at this time, still done by hand.

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Dailey Series...Hunt's and Dick Van Dyke!

Key Frame Art that bled into the plastic protective sheet.
I don't remember who I did this work for but I did get to take home the product to draw from. At Dailey, the head man, who shall go unnamed, always had to approve the sketches for anything that was created and presented. It drove me crazy because I had to go to the agency, pick up the job, get briefed, and then go home and do a tight sketch for approval. Before I went to final coloring, I had to drive back to the agency, drop off the sketch and wait for the boss man to see it and approve. Sometimes, it sat on his desk  for hours before I got the go ahead and naturally, they would need the finish frames the very next day!

Copyright Ben Bensen III / 2011