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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Demure? Moi?

One day in 1967 Charlie White III and Dave Willardson were out for a drive and saw a billboard. Dave mentioned that it would be cool to advertise Charlie's studio with such a large scale format. So they went back to "The White House" and called the billboard company. Turned out they couldn't just rent one -- they had to rent five! Black and white was cheapest, so Charlie dug up a b&w promo photo he had from a photo booth, Dave set the type and before they knew it, they had five billboards up around L.A. advertising the man himself. This was very much in the tongue-in-cheek, pop style of the day. Advertise the man/brand ahead of the art! At the time Charlie was going full guns as the premiere West Coast pop-style illustrator. Charlie has since mentioned that it was taken the wrong way by some, who thought it was, um, a tad immodest. But nevertheless these billboards are still remembered by L.A. oldsters as an iconic image around the city. But the idea nicely foreshadow today's strategies (think Shephard Fairey) in its simplicity and persona-driven directness. The billboards begat a whole campaign, including the decal seen at right and the booklet below.

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About the Author

Norman Hathaway
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Norman Hathaway is a designer and writer whose primary focus is on contemporary, lesser-known design techniques and personalities. Norman's professional experience has spanned many design disciplines, from sign painting to filmmaking. His clients included The Design Museum, The Royal Academy of Arts, Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel. He has lectured widely on design at the London College of Printing, The Royal College of Art, Goldsmiths College and other schools. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his daughter Wilma.
© 2008 PictureBox Inc. and Norman Hathaway