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First MTV Advertisement

Acrylic Airbrush on Illustration Board, approx. 36x24

This is definitely a favorite of mine, and it was a favorite of Dad's.  First, about the job itself.  Dad was working for the design firm, Willardson + White in Hollywood as a young artist. As jobs would come into the firm, the artists could take on jobs based either on their style, skill, schedule, or willingness. This job came in, and it was pitched simply as "a new TV station that would put video to music." The artists scoffed at the idea, but pay is pay, and Dad was willing to get paid what I think was $300 to do this painting.

This would become the very first MTV advertisement, one that was placed in magazines ahead of its debut. No one could have ever imagined the massive cultural juggernaut that MTV would eventually become. This painting, in person, is gorgeous. The colors, the excitement, the very much captured what MTV was about to do.

The Perfect Guitar...

As a guitar player, and one who owns a few Fender Strats, I am amazed at the painting of this guitar neck. So often, egregious mistakes are made by "artistic license" (which is oftentimes a creative way to say "laziness") when an artist or tv/film director doesn't have much knowledge about a subject. How many unrealistic sports movies have you seen, or tv shows with bands playing the wrong instruments, or ones that aren't even plugged in?

This could have been the case here, as Dad was not a guitar player, but this Fender headstock is just perfect.  He captured contours of the tuners, the bullet truss rod, the finely beveled edge of the headstock, even the string trees. But I absolutely love how he took the classic Fender lettering and perfectly hijacked it to say "Music Television."

Name the Artists...

Another great feature of this painting is the creative way that the artists of that day were depicted.  How many of these artists from 1980 can you name?

Creative Details...

Here's a little bit of fun trivia for you.  See the speakers sitting on top of the TV?  Notice the grill holes. They're tiny little dots, just like you'd expect on speakers.  How did Dad do that?  Did he individually paint each dot in a perfect grid?  Dad was good...he was real good.  But even I know he can't be that good.  But here's what did make him that good.  He took a ping pong paddle, the kind with little dimples, and he sprayed it with his airbrush in the kind of color gradation he wanted. Then, with a frisket in place on the illustration, he pressed the ping pong paddle down onto his painting and voila!  Speaker grill!  

Yup. He really was that good.

Find His Calling Card...

Artists love signing their work, but not every client lets them.  Sometimes, they may let them if the signature is subtle. Other times, they let them because, well, the artist was so sneaky that the client never saw it!  I'm not sure what the case was here, but find Dad's signature. The only hint I'll give you is that it's not a signature, nor his name, but his initials.

This is another work that Dad was particularly pleased with, as this one hung for many years in his studio (until I stole it from him and hung it in my bedroom during high school!).  My senior year of high school, Dad had told me that someone had offered him a pretty good sum of money for it, and he said if I didn't mind parting with it, we could sell it and it could go towards my college tuition.  I had no real aspirations at the time, so I said, "nah, let's keep it.  It's cool."  No, I was not a young man with much vision or understanding of the world...but I am glad we kept it.

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