Snow talks about art in advertising

By Page H. Gifford

After leaving a 40-year career in the demanding and creative world of advertising, artist William Snow turned to fine art, focusing on watercolor.

On Feb. 21, Snow spoke to the members of the Fluvanna Art Association about his artistic journey from art director to watercolorist.

He spoke briefly about his early career, attending the University of Arizona and apprenticing with ad agencies in the summer in New York City. Eventually, he ended up working in New York doing audio-visual work.

“I wasn’t in the Mad Men world of advertising,” he quipped, referring to the high-powered Madison Avenue agencies made famous in the series. Later, he moved out west to Denver, Colorado and became an art director for the graphics art department of a mining company. He worked on a variety of projects throughout his career, including designing logos, letterheads, and brochures.

Snow showed samples of his work at his talk,  including clever illustrations and crisp logos meant to promote products. He discussed the hands-on process used before computers. He worked with illustrators, photographers and copywriters to create the dummy. The dummy was a layout to show the client how the promotion of a product would look. Designing was a precise painstaking, intense, and imaginative process.

Snow circled back to art history, citing that artists had been commissioned to create works of art since Roman times. This connected graphic art to fine art throughout the centuries.

“During the Renaissance, work was commissioned by the churches in southern Europe and northern Europe, artists were commissioned by noblemen and monarchs to paint portraits.” Painters, like Vermeer and Winslow Homer, captured the lives of everyday workers. Homer had worked for Harpers as an illustrator during the Civil War. Before photography, artists recorded everyday life, whether it was scenes of motherhood or battles or scenes from Biblical or historical references.

“Illustrators like N.C. Wyeth (Andrew Wyeth’s father), Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Homer, and Vermeer are now considered fine artists,” he said. 

Snow ended his talk by giving the group tips on how to promote their work. He suggested they boost sales of their work through self-promotion and by using print and internet advertisement, e-blasts, websites, social networks, artist’s organizations, and exhibitions through private galleries, artist’s co-ops, and shows.

Nowadays, Snow devotes his time to his painting and promoting his work, but he also occasionally designs a logo or two. As a member of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild, he recently designed a new logo for them. After working in a pressure-cooking career, he said he doesn’t miss the deadlines.

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