Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ken Bald and GEM Studio

Up until 1983 the closest I came to a comic strip was reading one.

That all changed when Ken Bald asked me to color a few Dr. Kildare sunday strips. I was a storyboard artist in advertising at the time, and aside from some package design and a few magazine & newspaper spot illustrations, I didn't have much in print. So this was a big deal to me. I remember being pretty cautious, but the thought of seeing it published in a week or two got me jazzed.
But enough about me, I'd rather tell you about Ken.

Ken Bald has been an illustrator since the early '40s. While studying at Pratt Institute he became art director & lead figure artist at the Binder studio, producing comic book art for Fawcett Publications, the Captain Marvel publishers. Then the war broke out and Ken signed up.

After serving honorably in World War II, Ken resumed his carreer as an illustrator, creating comic books, comic strips, movie posters and ad illustrations, before becoming one of the most in-demand storyboard artists in the advertising industry.

Ken joined Gem Studio as Creative Director in the early '80s, and they created a cottage industry of storyboard & animatic art that would last for two and a half decades. From an original crew of three illustrators and various freelancers, Gem went on to grow in staff and dominate the advertising art market.

Much of this was due to Ken's creative direction and generous instruction to our group of illustrators.
No matter how busy he was, Ken would always take time out to help us with a tough pose or show us how to draw a closer likeness. No one draws film, sports and tv stars like Ken Bald. Nobody.

Here's an example...I'll keep adding Ken Bald illustrations for the next couple of days.
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12/2/07 update...

This storyboard frame is one of the first pieces Ken made at Gem. It was used in a promotional booklet.

Here's an example of Ken's loose inking style, before the marker rendering.

Billy, Rodney & George.

Ink illustration for another promo piece.
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12/3/07 update...

Both of these pieces below were created for GEM's "Black Book" ads. Does anyone remember that directory? Back then, if you weren't in the Black Book you were small time. All of the illustrators had to concept and produce their own illustrations for these promotional ads, and if we didn't get it right by the first or second submission it would become a commitee project. Needless to say, we all tried to get it approved on the first try.




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12/4/07 update...

This Bahamas art was another promotional piece Ken created for our promo brochure, perfect subject matter for his style. The Early Times Bourbon ad in the center is by John Moodie, another master sketch artist and close friend of Mr. Bald. John liked the look of Magic Markers, and used them exclusively. His visuals were always crisp and looked like watercolors. His linework was always done with color Pentel pens.
The Proctor Silex toaster below is by Mr. Check Hom, who also worked closely with John creating product art for his storyboards and print ad comps. Every senior illustrator had their own product guys. Check worked with John and I worked with Ken. In addition to our product work we were also responsible for our own workload of storyboards and print ad comps.




2 comments:

Thomas Fluharty said...

AMAZING TIME TRAVEL VINNY! thanks for posting these. NO one like Kenny Bald~T love you bro~T

leif said...

Thanks for sharing this fantastic look at Ken Bald's career and showing his tremendous talent and diversity... great stuff!