A pair of star illustrators and Art Center alums Paul Rogers and Josh Cochran, as well as Tom Peak, son of late, legendary illustrator Bob Peak, swapped stories of how broke beginnings turned into landing major ad and editorial campaigns.
“I was eating Ramen, and my girlfriend was buying gas,” Cochran said of his early days as an illustrator.
“I had a plan to make $500 a month … and my girlfriend worked in a restaurant, so I thought I’d be good with food,” added Art Center faculty member Rogers.
The hour-long discussion, moderated by faculty member Aaron Smith, took place Tuesday evening at the Hillside campus, and was capped off with a book signing and drinks.
Peak kicked off the conversation by revealing his father’s first paying gig as an artist. “At 17, he lied about his age and joined the Navy, and during his downtime, he drew portraits” for a fee, he said.
In the 1940s, Bob Peak attended Art Center where he studied illustration while working as the school’s cook, groundskeeper and janitor. “My mother was an art student, and she and my dad met in the cafeteria while he was busing trays,” Peak said.
After graduating in 1951, Bob moved to New York and landed the Old Hickory Whiskey ad campaign, which led to his artwork appearing on covers of national magazines and movie posters, including “Apocalypse Now,” “Superman” and “My Fair Lady.”
“There’s a really interesting story behind ‘My Fair Lady,’” said Peak. “My dad met Audrey Hepburn … and thought she was so beautiful, that she had to be the centerpiece of the advertising.”
But the studio had contractual sizes for her more famous co-star Rex Harrison in the artwork. “So [my dad] put a hat on [Harrison] that he wore in a scene of the movie,” said Peak. “And the studio loved it.”
Rogers and Cochran wrapped the event by offering advice to students.
“My generation lived through the entire digital revolution. The plan for longevity is to be flexible and to keep moving with it,” said Rogers, whose clients include The New Yorker, Celebrity Cruises and Random House.
“I thought everything had to have this Art Center vibe that you learn here,” said Cochran, whose work has graced the covers of Fortune and Time magazines. “Know what you’re good at and focus on that.”