Norman Rockwell - Essay ad campaigns

Norman Rockwell is well known for his illustrations on covers of numerous magazines and especially The Saturday Evening Post. He had the ability to look at the culture around him and create visual stories that expressed the wants and needs the people. His illustrations had ordinary people doing everyday activities with exceptional details creating a utopian scene. In the words of Norman Rockwell, “I paint life as I would like it to be” (American Masters, 2006). More plainly stated by Steven Spielberg, “ Rockwell painted the American dream – better than anyone” (American Masters, 2006).

Rockwell’s career as an illustrator spanned many years in which he created many wonderful pieces, and icons that are still recognized today. One thing many people do not remember about this talented artist is his great talent in advertising. It estimated that Rockwell actually did twice as many ads than covers. His incredible talent gave him the opportunity to promote and sell a wide variety of products.

In the 1920’s illustrators had more of a celebrity status and were revered for their familiarity of culture and especially public preference. On many occasions Rockwell’s clients would give him complete control of ad campaigns and strategies of how to promote and sell their products or service. Rockwell knew how to make his pieces interact emotionally with the viewer, which made his advertisements extremely successful. The techniques used in his advertisements are similar to how the photography is set up today to tell the story of the product.

Rockwell began doing advertisements in 1914 and continued illustrating commercial campaigns for 60 years. By 1920 he had already done advertisements for a diverse amount of products. Heinz, oil heaters, tires textiles, Post cereals, US Marines and even motors were the products he began promoting.

He shows that he has great understanding of visual communication in the Norman Rockwell’s advertisement for Parker 61 pen’s in 1959. The viewer sees this master put so many little bits and pieces into this ad. He uses great balance of color in his blocking of the product to bring the viewer back and forth from the color combination. The viewer’s attention is brought to the center of the illustration with the brilliant yellow and he places the product clearly on this background, which really showcases the product. Next consider the all American look he has given this girl and her friends. They are all pretty, conservative, and happy for each other. This wholesome group is every father’s dream of a successful, happy daughter ready to go off to college and be even more successful with this great gift from her father. He then reassures these assumptions when he places the text, “Daddy is trying to spoil me!” This makes the suggestions placed in the illustration more concrete and reassures the viewer that a Parker 61 is a real treat. His eye for detail makes his message incredibly successful. In today’s advertisements many times stock photography is uses. The stock photographs do not contain the elements that tell the story like Rockwell did.

Norman Rockwell’s creativity and understanding of the human figure, as well as, the American culture has made his work very successful for over sixty years. As an accomplished Illustrator he has collections of techniques to establish visual hierarchy and strike an emotional card with the viewer. Not only is his work an inspiration for today’s designers, but also it is a wealth of techniques that need to be observed, understood and used to create incredible pieces with solid design techniques. Today as designers we can appreciate his attention to detail and telling the visual story with his elements first. The initial glance can tell the story, but the more you look there is much more to the story than meets the eye.

Works Cited

"1959 Rockwell Illustration for Parker 61 | Monochromatic Outlook." Monochromatic Outlook | There She Goes, My Beautiful World. 27 Mar. 2008. Web. 02 Nov. 2010. .

American Masters. "Norman Rockwell - About Norman Rockwell | American Masters." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. 07 Feb. 2006. Web. 02 Nov. 2010.

"Norman Rockwell Advertising Art 1914 to 1976." Where Norman Rockwell Art Collectors Begin. Web. 02 Nov. 2010.

"Norman Rockwell." American Art Archives, Illustration, Illustrator, Art. Web. 02 Nov. 2010.

"Norman Rockwell Art." Norman Rockwell Prints. Web. 02 Nov. 2010.