Sunday, February 7, 2010

Once Upon A Time In Atlanta

Yesterday’s gray blustery weather forced me to live up to a long standing promise – “On the next shut-in day I swear I will clean out my files.” My procrastinating skills could not even prevent the long dreaded moment and by mid-afternoon I found myself surrounded by piles of letters, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, receipts, and drawings – the forgotten stuff of pack rats.

Each piece that came to view brought a rush of memories and the short cleaning job stretched into early evening. A rediscovered magazine cover brought an end to the day’s labor and for that I gave thanks. A few hours remained to do what I wanted.

One of my first jobs out of college was a stint at the Atlanta Magazine, a glossy city tabloid put out by the Chamber of Commerce. To save money, all print preparation ended up being done in-house and that job fell to the advertising art department. The advertising director did not like his overworked crew taking on another job and directed them to bring in a free-lance artist. My college chum happened to be advertising art director and gave the job to me.

One week each month I pasted-up the Magazine at the Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Atlanta, just a short walk from so much Southern history. I loved that job and the opportunity to work in an office of wacky creative people.

I came up with the Santa Atlanta magazine cover and presented it to the editorial art director who passed it along to the editorial director. He shared it with his writers and they showed it to the advertising account reps. All down the line, everyone loved the idea, until it reached the advertising director. “We can’t have a cover without teaser copy,” he said. “Besides, no one will recognize it as Atlanta Magazine.”

Thankfully, the editorial department had final say and the cover graced the December 1972 issue. Looking at the cover today, I am struck by two thoughts – surprise that such a minimal design was accepted and a belief that my unique cover solution still holds up today.