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!
- Art On Wheels 2,427 photos, 367 members
- Automotive Artistry 48,690 photos, 2,333 members
- Automotive Art 39,355 photos, 889 members
- Vintage Esquire girls 580 photos, 111 members
- James Avati - A homage to his Art 379 photos, 58 members
- Painting plein aire 15,764 photos, 1,344 members
- PAPERBACK COVERS AND OTHER ART BY ROBERT MCGINNIS 1,440 photos, 270 members
- The Art of Mary Blair 352 photos, 224 members
- Retro Beverage Advertisments 391 photos, 69 members
- Skulls 16,090 photos, 3,981 members
- Illustration Friday HEROIC 12,794 photos, 6,806 members
- Skull Nation 3,662 photos, 800 members
- The Vintage Working Woman 446 photos, 223 members
- Lucky Lager 162 photos, 19 members
- You Lounge While I Kneel [Vintage] 73 photos, 105 members
- CPSIA Endangered Books 878 photos, 320 members
- True Pinups 5,812 photos, 1,429 members
- VINTAGE CIRCUS COLLECTIBLES (Beginning of It's History to 1975) 597 photos, 248 members
- Project Christmassy Festive 2009 221 photos, 122 members
- Vintage garden illustrations 3,042 photos, 513 members
- Vintage Publications Home Interiors 2,533 photos, 571 members
- COMIC BOOK ART SHOWOFF 889 photos, 409 members
- Vintage Newspaper Comics 144 photos, 73 members
- The Vintage Party 1,788 photos, 404 members
- Gee, That Food Looks Terrible! [VINTAGE] 3,001 photos, 542 members
- Vintage Education 239 photos, 291 members
- Vintage Meat 1,302 photos, 270 members
- Pipe Dreams (Those swell smoking men) 300 photos, 110 members
- The Putrid Pal 40 photos, 379 members
- vintage paperback 33,142 photos, 1,017 members
- Old-Timey Paperback Book Covers 20,876 photos, 993 members
- Vintage Bookmarks 283 photos, 134 members
- An Apron A Day 3,026 photos, 511 members
- Bill Charmatz Illustration Appreciation Group 27 photos, 77 members
- Mid-Century Illustrated Originals 144 photos, 243 members
- Witty Whitman! 746 photos, 113 members
- Vintage Science 1,129 photos, 1,278 members
- Vintage Industry 1,519 photos, 328 members
- 5 minute doodle! 1,171 photos, 1,283 members
- Kids' records 1,910 photos, 213 members
- Shinzi Katoh Collectors 319 photos, 359 members
- Restaurant Mascot Extravaganza 2,388 photos, 428 members
- Vintage Drug Stores 2,075 photos, 794 members
- Raiders of The Lost Snacks 4,773 photos, 425 members
- TWA 1,133 photos, 210 members
- Vintage Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores 6,783 photos, 1,237 members
- Leyendecker 632 photos, 428 members
- Sequential Art 2,179 photos, 183 members
- Sugar Frosted Goodness! 1,481 photos, 65 members
- Charles Harper illustrations fanclub!!!!!! 479 photos, 1,187 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