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 2,388 photos, 367 members
- Automotive Artistry 46,640 photos, 2,305 members
- Automotive Art 38,753 photos, 879 members
- Vintage Esquire girls 519 photos, 105 members
- James Avati - A homage to his Art 366 photos, 57 members
- Painting plein aire 15,404 photos, 1,332 members
- PAPERBACK COVERS AND OTHER ART BY ROBERT MCGINNIS 1,416 photos, 260 members
- The Art of Mary Blair 352 photos, 224 members
- Retro Beverage Advertisments 391 photos, 68 members
- Skulls 16,098 photos, 3,993 members
- Illustration Friday SOUP 12,862 photos, 6,805 members
- Skull Nation 3,664 photos, 799 members
- The Vintage Working Woman 457 photos, 221 members
- Lucky Lager 162 photos, 19 members
- You Lounge While I Kneel [Vintage] 73 photos, 105 members
- CPSIA Endangered Books 878 photos, 319 members
- True Pinups 5,617 photos, 1,381 members
- VINTAGE CIRCUS COLLECTIBLES (Beginning of It's History to 1975) 582 photos, 245 members
- Project Christmassy Festive 2009 221 photos, 122 members
- Vintage garden illustrations 3,038 photos, 500 members
- Vintage Publications Home Interiors 2,534 photos, 567 members
- COMIC BOOK ART SHOWOFF 892 photos, 404 members
- Vintage Newspaper Comics 143 photos, 72 members
- The Vintage Party 1,762 photos, 401 members
- Gee, That Food Looks Terrible! [VINTAGE] 2,995 photos, 537 members
- Vintage Education 239 photos, 292 members
- Vintage Meat 1,299 photos, 270 members
- Pipe Dreams (Those swell smoking men) 305 photos, 108 members
- The Putrid Pal 40 photos, 380 members
- vintage paperback 32,121 photos, 997 members
- Old-Timey Paperback Book Covers 19,867 photos, 988 members
- Vintage Bookmarks 284 photos, 133 members
- An Apron A Day 2,999 photos, 506 members
- Bill Charmatz Illustration Appreciation Group 27 photos, 77 members
- Mid-Century Illustrated Originals 144 photos, 242 members
- Witty Whitman! 688 photos, 113 members
- Vintage Science 1,129 photos, 1,280 members
- Vintage Industry 1,419 photos, 320 members
- 5 minute doodle! 1,164 photos, 1,282 members
- Kids' records 1,893 photos, 211 members
- Shinzi Katoh Collectors 319 photos, 359 members
- Restaurant Mascot Extravaganza 2,317 photos, 422 members
- Vintage Drug Stores 1,978 photos, 786 members
- Raiders of The Lost Snacks 4,765 photos, 420 members
- TWA 1,112 photos, 207 members
- Vintage Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores 6,681 photos, 1,236 members
- Leyendecker 610 photos, 421 members
- Sequential Art 2,174 photos, 183 members
- Sugar Frosted Goodness! 1,463 photos, 65 members
- Charles Harper illustrations fanclub!!!!!! 465 photos, 1,186 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