I did this poster over the summer for the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I just got printed copies in the mail today. They asked me to design a poster that showed the school's curriculum, which offers courses in both the visual and performing arts. I proposed this image, based on a small painting (8" X 10") that I did six years ago for a collector in Turin, Italy. The early version was never published, and ever since, I've been looking for an opportunity to expand on the idea.
The art director was Anthony Padilla, for whom I've done several posters before. I designed it and did both the art and the hand lettering. The text at the bottom was added by John Coy, who also selected the final type font.
The University of the Arts is one of the oldest art schools in the country. It represents the merger of two previous schools, both dating back to the 1870s, I believe: the Philadelphia College of Art and the College of the Performing Arts. They came together sometime in the 1980s.
For me, the poster was a visit to Memory Lane. Many years ago, the Philadelphia College of Art was the first school that ever asked me to address its students. Although I had been doing work for Playboy for a year or two at the time, my youth, my opinions about how the illustration business needed to change, and my untamed manner of delivery made me somewhat controversial as a speaker. In fact, I was barely older than most of the students and actually younger than some of them. In addition, my off-the-cuff speaking style was certainly less polished than I think most people were expecting from a Playboy artist. Yet in spite of that, a wonderful gentleman, Ben Eisenstat took me under his wing and made me feel right at home.
Ben was an artist, a teacher, a collector and a scholar of the illustration field. He took me to lunch at an elegant club, even though I was dressed in blue jeans and desert boots; and he treated me as graciously as if I were one of the big shots of the business. I've never forgotten him and I'd love to think that this poster is, in some small way, a salute to that great gentleman, whose daughter, Alice Carter – some call her Bunny – is carrying on her father's tradition out on the west coast.
So thanks once again, Anthony, for the opportunity to do the art; thanks, John, for the elegant type face; and a tip of the hat from across the decades to the late Ben Eisenstat. As for the school, hello to everyone in Philadelphia and the best of luck to all of you in your new school year.