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 2,624 photos, 365 members
- Automotive Artistry 60,490 photos, 2,464 members
- Automotive Art 43,198 photos, 931 members
- Vintage Esquire girls 614 photos, 158 members
- James Avati - A homage to his Art 403 photos, 61 members
- Painting plein aire 18,642 photos, 1,422 members
- PAPERBACK COVERS AND OTHER ART BY ROBERT MCGINNIS 1,495 photos, 290 members
- The Art of Mary Blair 350 photos, 219 members
- Retro Beverage Advertisments 340 photos, 73 members
- Skulls 15,831 photos, 3,929 members
- Illustration Friday 12,630 photos, 6,763 members
- Skull Nation 3,654 photos, 792 members
- The Vintage Working Woman 425 photos, 229 members
- Lucky Lager 161 photos, 19 members
- You Lounge While I Kneel [Vintage] 75 photos, 104 members
- CPSIA Endangered Books 868 photos, 321 members
- True Pinups 6,429 photos, 1,640 members
- VINTAGE CIRCUS COLLECTIBLES (Beginning of It's History to 1975) 646 photos, 263 members
- Project Christmassy Festive 2009 217 photos, 119 members
- Vintage garden illustrations 3,059 photos, 607 members
- Vintage Publications Home Interiors 2,576 photos, 603 members
- COMIC BOOK ART SHOWOFF 919 photos, 427 members
- Vintage Newspaper Comics 138 photos, 70 members
- The Vintage Party 1,945 photos, 427 members
- Gee, That Food Looks Terrible! [VINTAGE] 2,879 photos, 556 members
- Vintage Education 234 photos, 287 members
- Vintage Meat 1,175 photos, 273 members
- Pipe Dreams (Those swell smoking men) 437 photos, 115 members
- The Putrid Pal 40 photos, 369 members
- vintage paperback 37,282 photos, 1,102 members
- Old-Timey Paperback Book Covers 23,343 photos, 1,041 members
- Vintage Bookmarks 271 photos, 140 members
- An Apron A Day 3,686 photos, 547 members
- Bill Charmatz Illustration Appreciation Group 26 photos, 76 members
- Mid-Century Illustrated Originals 144 photos, 240 members
- Witty Whitman! 781 photos, 121 members
- Vintage Science 1,078 photos, 1,258 members
- Vintage Industry 1,145 photos, 336 members
- 5 minute doodle! 1,167 photos, 1,263 members
- Kids' records 2,102 photos, 223 members
- Shinzi Katoh Collectors 314 photos, 355 members
- Restaurant Mascot Extravaganza 2,362 photos, 461 members
- Vintage Drug Stores 2,221 photos, 820 members
- Raiders of The Lost Snacks 4,836 photos, 444 members
- TWA 1,180 photos, 233 members
- Vintage Supermarkets, Grocery & Convenience Stores 6,659 photos, 1,271 members
- Leyendecker 633 photos, 448 members
- Sequential Art 2,255 photos, 190 members
- Sugar Frosted Goodness! 1,495 photos, 62 members
- Charles Harper illustrations fanclub!!!!!! 526 photos, 1,184 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
abiding pear 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.
May 27th, 2007
- Leif Peng
- October 2005
- Hamilton, Canada
- I am:
- Male and Taken
- Commercial Artist
- Leif Peng Cartoon Art