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!

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  • My favs at Flickr. Thanks everybody for your nice work. Really inspirator :) by Vincent Moustache
 

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    ojimbo says:

    "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

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    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

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    bollesbiggestfan says:

    "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.
    Jack"

    27th May, 2007

Name:
Leif Peng
Joined:
October 2005
Hometown:
Hamilton
Currently:
Hamilton, Canada
I am:
Male and Taken
Occupation:
Commercial Artist
Website:
Leif Peng Cartoon Art