About 20 years ago I was a green kid fresh out of art school working as an in-house marker renderer at an advertising agency in Toronto. This old fellow named Bud was the photo retoucher in our studio. He'd begun clipping pages from the Saturday Evening Post and filing the tear sheets ever since he got into the commercial art business after WWII. Bud passed away a year or so after I started working at the agency and his family had no use for his clipped reference files, so they generously passed them along to me and my buddy Dan, the other young renderer working in-house.
That was long before computers and scanners and the Internet... so Dan and I would keep moving this huge, heavy filing cabinet from place to place when the studio moved around. Finally, after about ten years, I found a new studio up town and Dan very kindly gave up his half-ownership of Bud's files to me. He said I was more interested in Bud's old files anyway so I should just keep it.
Fast forward another few years and I was now working at home. I was always pouring through Bud's files for inspiration, and one day I thought, "I should scan one of these pieces and send it to a few of the guys." So I scanned this piece by Mike Ludlow and sent it out to about eight or nine fellow storyboard artist friends under the subject line "Today's Inspiration."
Needless to say, the response was very enthusiastic. The guys all sent back messages like "send another" and "hey I have a friend who wants to get these... can you add him to the list?"
So for a couple of years the TI list grew by word of mouth. Then blogs came along and I started Today's Inspiration, which gave me a chance to add some writing to the artwork I was showing. I had developed an interest in learning about the business of illustration during the mid-century... about who all these forgotten artists were. I was amazed to discover the kind of lives they lived - they were as well known as Hollywood celebrities - and just as wealthy - and many enjoyed the same sort of social life, hobnobbing at the Stork Club and at the Society of Illustrators, living in palatial mansions and doing celebrity endorsements. Fascinating stuff. Nothing like the life of a professional illustrator today, believe me!
Because of the blog and because of my growing interest I began buying old magazines on ebay and from used bookstores. Now I have hundreds of issues of the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, etc. and I can't pass up the opportunity to acquire more, if the price is right. Because of all the stuff I've posted - and thanks to Google - I've been contacted by dozens and dozens of family members of the artists I feature... and in a few cases, the artists themselves! I've had the benefit of learning a lot of the history of the business from the people who made it - or the (now grown up) children who witnessed it first-hand.
My daily email scan list has continued to grow as well... now well over a thousand people around the world subscribe to it. Its a pretty great feeling connecting with so many kindred spirits!
Photos of leifpeng (1)
- James Avati - A homage to his Art 312 photos, 43 members
- Painting plein aire 9,837 photos, 1,047 members
- PAPERBACK COVERS AND OTHER ART BY ROBERT MCGINNIS 1,254 photos, 192 members
- The Art of Mary Blair 339 photos, 202 members
- Retro Beverage Advertisments 396 photos, 53 members
- Skulls 16,790 photos, 3,818 members
- Illustration Friday SPIRIT 12,991 photos, 6,659 members
- Skull Nation 3,599 photos, 801 members
- The Vintage Working Woman 447 photos, 178 members
- Lucky Lager 142 photos, 18 members
- You Lounge While I Kneel [Vintage] 65 photos, 102 members
- CPSIA Endangered Books 895 photos, 322 members
- True Pinups 3,664 photos, 1,081 members
- VINTAGE CIRCUS COLLECTIBLES (Beginning of It's History to 1975) 517 photos, 220 members
- Project Christmassy Festive 2009 226 photos, 125 members
- Vintage garden illustrations 2,226 photos, 372 members
- Vintage Publications Home Interiors 1,838 photos, 488 members
- COMIC BOOK ART SHOWOFF 665 photos, 336 members
- Vintage Newspaper Comics 136 photos, 62 members
- The Vintage Party 1,686 photos, 345 members
- Gee, That Food Looks Terrible! [VINTAGE] 2,917 photos, 481 members
- Vintage Education 273 photos, 286 members
- Vintage Meat 1,168 photos, 254 members
- Pipe Dreams (Those swell smoking men) 229 photos, 92 members
- The Putrid Pal 41 photos, 391 members
- vintage paperback 34,236 photos, 803 members
- Old-Timey Paperback Book Covers 19,748 photos, 892 members
- Vintage Bookmarks 280 photos, 123 members
- An Apron A Day 3,243 photos, 467 members
- Bill Charmatz Illustration Appreciation Group 42 photos, 76 members
- Mid-Century Illustrated Originals 171 photos, 201 members
- Witty Whitman! 763 photos, 111 members
- Vintage Science 1,115 photos, 1,236 members
- Vintage Industry 680 photos, 290 members
- 5 minute doodle! 996 photos, 1,282 members
- Kids' records 1,748 photos, 194 members
- Shinzi Katoh Collectors 331 photos, 361 members
- Restaurant Mascot Extravaganza 2,240 photos, 386 members
- Vintage Drug Stores 1,878 photos, 748 members
- Raiders of The Lost Snacks 4,577 photos, 392 members
- TWA 862 photos, 144 members
- Vintage Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores 5,206 photos, 1,139 members
- Leyendecker 502 photos, 365 members
- Sequential Art 1,733 photos, 172 members
- Sugar Frosted Goodness! 1,371 photos, 68 members
- Charles Harper illustrations fanclub!!!!!! 468 photos, 1,160 members
- Jim Flora Art 246 photos, 238 members
- Sugar Frosted Cereal Museum [1939-1989] 3,013 photos, 425 members
- Auto Ads 10,789 photos, 417 members
- I Love My Electric Appliance!! [Happy People in Vintage Ads] 807 photos, 809 members
"I really can't get over what an amazing resource you have created.
It is by far the best history of illustration class I never got to take.
There is so much to see and learn. Thanks a lot Leif!"
18th March, 2008
Paula Wirth says:
"Not content with just being a talented illustrator and cartoonist, Leif is also one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable experts on vintage illustration. When he finally publishes a book, I will be first in line to buy it!!! (Oh, and he is one of the nicest and most helpful flickr folks out there, to boot!!)
Deserved praise, indeed!"
28th September, 2007
"Leif's flickr page has become 'the' library for serious study of the golden age of illustration. His blog, "Today's Inspiration" is his classroom, and you will never take a more enjoyable or edifying course!
Thank you, Leif for sharing your collection, your insights and your passion for great illustration.
27th May, 2007
- Leif Peng
- October 2005
- Hamilton, Canada
- I am:
- Male and Taken
- Commercial Artist
- Leif Peng Cartoon Art