About 25 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 in 2005, 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!
- Vintage Esquire girls 322 photos, 71 members
- James Avati - A homage to his Art 325 photos, 49 members
- Painting plein aire 13,020 photos, 1,252 members
- PAPERBACK COVERS AND OTHER ART BY ROBERT MCGINNIS 1,169 photos, 244 members
- The Art of Mary Blair 348 photos, 214 members
- Retro Beverage Advertisments 391 photos, 67 members
- Skulls 16,276 photos, 3,988 members
- Illustration Friday CITY 12,919 photos, 6,807 members
- Skull Nation 3,697 photos, 803 members
- The Vintage Working Woman 618 photos, 207 members
- Lucky Lager 163 photos, 18 members
- You Lounge While I Kneel [Vintage] 73 photos, 104 members
- CPSIA Endangered Books 875 photos, 319 members
- True Pinups 5,045 photos, 1,281 members
- VINTAGE CIRCUS COLLECTIBLES (Beginning of It's History to 1975) 529 photos, 235 members
- Project Christmassy Festive 2009 221 photos, 123 members
- Vintage garden illustrations 2,929 photos, 454 members
- Vintage Publications Home Interiors 2,449 photos, 533 members
- COMIC BOOK ART SHOWOFF 790 photos, 392 members
- Vintage Newspaper Comics 143 photos, 66 members
- The Vintage Party 1,607 photos, 390 members
- Gee, That Food Looks Terrible! [VINTAGE] 2,986 photos, 512 members
- Vintage Education 239 photos, 293 members
- Vintage Meat 1,277 photos, 264 members
- Pipe Dreams (Those swell smoking men) 277 photos, 104 members
- The Putrid Pal 39 photos, 382 members
- vintage paperback 29,487 photos, 930 members
- Old-Timey Paperback Book Covers 14,634 photos, 950 members
- Vintage Bookmarks 284 photos, 129 members
- An Apron A Day 3,196 photos, 478 members
- Bill Charmatz Illustration Appreciation Group 38 photos, 77 members
- Mid-Century Illustrated Originals 172 photos, 219 members
- Witty Whitman! 688 photos, 112 members
- Vintage Science 1,137 photos, 1,271 members
- Vintage Industry 937 photos, 306 members
- 5 minute doodle! 1,086 photos, 1,281 members
- Kids' records 1,849 photos, 199 members
- Shinzi Katoh Collectors 320 photos, 360 members
- Restaurant Mascot Extravaganza 2,284 photos, 399 members
- Vintage Drug Stores 1,896 photos, 758 members
- Raiders of The Lost Snacks 4,747 photos, 407 members
- TWA 1,007 photos, 183 members
- Vintage Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores 6,235 photos, 1,192 members
- Leyendecker 519 photos, 407 members
- Sequential Art 2,040 photos, 178 members
- Sugar Frosted Goodness! 1,414 photos, 65 members
- Charles Harper illustrations fanclub!!!!!! 440 photos, 1,176 members
- Jim Flora Art 262 photos, 239 members
- Sugar Frosted Cereal Museum [1939-1989] 3,056 photos, 442 members
- Auto Ads 15,024 photos, 487 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!"
March 18th, 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!"
September 28th, 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.
May 27th, 2007
- Leif Peng
- October 2005
- Hamilton, Canada
- I am:
- Male and Taken
- Commercial Artist
- Leif Peng Cartoon Art