Bubble Gum Tattoos With a Bite!
I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick the past few months. Probably from watching old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210. You see, Brandon just broke up with Kelly, Donna is still with Ray and Dylan is...oh sorry! Back to the point of this article --
Ultra Tattoo Champ was another one of my very early commercial projects from the 90s for Richardson Brands, best known for Beechies Gum*, Richardson Mints and rock candy. During this time, they manufactured a sizable series of these temporary tattoo packs. Sold in foil packs and in large 180 piece tubs for individual purchase at 5¢ each, the tattoos were wrapped around a piece of gum inside a wax wrapper. The gum had another selling point for kids beyond the tattoos — purple gum turned the mouth purple, green gum turned the mouth green, and... you get the idea. I illustrated two lines for this series, Vicious Animals and Sports. For this article, I'm showing my favorite of the two, Vicious Animals!
*Beechies Gum was originally made by the Beech-Nut Company and introduced in 1933. Richardson Mints have been made sine 1893. They also make a product called Gravy Master which has nothing to do with bubble gum or candy, although, a gravy flavored gum would probably be a big seller! There's my free million dollar idea.
This is the complete set of Vicious Animals tattoos. Each tattoo is roughly 2.5 inches tall and 1 inch wide. I don't recall exactly how Richardson Brands had contacted me, but I do remember driving to their office in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania twice, once to show my portfolio and once to deliver the art. I met with the art director, was given samples of previous tattoos, and some gum that I chewed on my drive back home.
Over 25 years later, these tattoos still work and still look pretty cool! No, I did not eat the gum.
The original art was painted with gouache on bristol board at 300% reproduction size. They worked really well at the tiny 1 inch tattoo size and were remarkably bright and colorful! The original art is owned by Richardson Brands and all I have are 35mm slides. I had enough sense to have taken shots of most of my work back then as I never liked sending the art away, never to see it again. It was a lot tougher to keep good records of my artwork prior to digital scans and photos. It took A LOT MORE TIME but it was well worth it!
I did quite a few sketches for project. They were done pretty quickly as I remember in order to meet the deadline. The art director sent a good amount of them back asking for "more blood" and everything that went along with it, which made me really happy!
I look at these today and only wish I could do them all again! I'd add EVEN MORE GORE! C'mon Topp's, give me a call! I can do this!
Here he is — the Tattoo Champ! ready to chew gum and kick butt! Kinda looks like Steve Sanders!
The foil packs came with an XL big tattoo 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches. I bought about five or six packs to get one of my illustrations. Glad it was the piranha, they're cute!
The BIG Silly Putty
I was watching Seinfeld last night with my wife. The episode was The Big Salad. I saw it when it first aired on September 29, 1994. Since then, I've probably seen this episode countless times — in reruns and in the DVD box set Seinfeld: The Complete Series. Let's face it, I'm a fan and have studied this show in minute detail. So, it was a total shock when watching The Big Salad for the umpteenth time when my wife shouted out, "That's your Silly Putty packaging!" WHAT?! I grabbed the remote, stepped the scene back and sure enough, there it was! All this time, Fluorescent Silly Putty hanging in the stationary store where Elaine had gone to buy a very expensive Rolamech 1000 mechanical pencil for Mr. Pitt. It's high on a shelf right behind the stationery store clerk. The clerk, by the way, is very interested in Elaine and she soon finds herself trying to elude his romantic advances.
The scene (the entire show) is very funny. I blame this for the reason I never caught the Silly Putty before. I'm always looking at TV and movie scenes for products or odd-ball stuff. But this time, Larry David had me sucked into the story and the characters a little too much.
To have this particular packaging appear even incidentally in a Seinfeld episode is such a thrill! Silly Putty was my first major toy packaging commission. I designed and illustrated four blister cards in this series — Classic Silly Putty, Fluorescent Silly Putty, Glow-In-The Dark Silly Putty, and Glitter Silly Putty. These packages appear to be extremely rare. I have searched the internet for several years and have yet to see them posted anywhere. I've never even seen them for sale on eBay! But now I've seen them on Seinfeld!
It's nice, too, that set people on Seinfeld chose Fluorescent Silly Putty. Of the four packages, it has the most distinctive 90s graphics. It fits really well into this time period. Nothing else is Silly Putty and nothing else is Seinfeld. I think it goes really well with a Big Salad!
Go HERE for more detailed information about my work on the Silly Putty series.
In another surprise moment, I spotted the Crayola Travel Color 'n Rub packaging just as Jerry and Elaine are leaving the stationary store! I illustrated all the characters for this package, too! WOW! I quickly jumped to the deleted scene included with the DVD hoping, wishing it would be Jerry saying, "Look Elaine! Silly Putty!" — It wasn't there, but I like to think it was shot and just ended up on the cutting room floor.
Let's Spock 'N' Roll!
I'm proud to announce the release of a new book I helped research and write. It's called The Musical Touch of Leonard Nimoy and is available as a paperback and Kindle eBook on Amazon! I also did the book design and cover illustration.
Back in 2006, my wife Darlene and I began the research that would lead to the creation of our popular website Maiden Wine. The site told the tale of when Leonard was a teen idol and recording star, singing as both himself and his dual identity, the highly logical Mr. Spock. After many years of hosting it online, we retired the website, but still had all this great material. We finally decided to go for it and update and expand the story into a groovy full-color history, musical scrapbook, and discography. If you have a love of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, and/or the 60s pop scene, you will dig this far out book!
He's groovy! He's sexy! He's a hit with all the kids!
Who's that? Paul McCartney ? Davy Jones?
NO! It's Mr. Spock - WAIT! It's Leonard Nimoy!
The two are inseparable and both are cultural icons. This book captures the moment in time in the far out 60s when Leonard Nimoy was signed to a five album record deal for Dot Records, signed a universe of autographs, and toured the country to promote his singing career to throngs of adoring fans. Highly illogical? You be the judge in this one hundred page book filled with full color photos, press clippings, historical essay, and collectors discography. Find out the story behind the viral Malibu U video "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" and how Leonard Nimoy in his inimitable fashion survived the bumps and bruises from his infamous Golden Throats recordings to live long and prosper as a man of many talents.
The story of Leonard Nimoy's music is showcased with full color photos, press clippings, historical essay, and discography. Available on Amazon as a 108 page full color 8.5" x 8.5" paperback and 169 page Kindle eBook.
Published by Diner Mighty Graphics.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Darlene Lacey is a writer, researcher, and appreciator of things of the past. She is a candy historian; the author of Classic Candy: America's Favorite Sweets, 1950-80 (Shire Books), and curator of the Candy Wrapper Museum, where candy wrappers are enjoyed as art, nostalgia, and humor. Follow her on GoodReads.
Joe Lacey is a creative consultant, illustrator and designer for toys, packaging, and publication art for such companies as Crayola, (most notably, the Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney), Avon, Fisher-Price, Mattel, and PEZ. Follow him on GoodReads.
It's not just a coloring book, it's a full experience! The Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney includes a "4-panel wall art piece". Each page is perforated and can be pulled out and taped together to measure 32" wide, or 40" tall (if you stack it top to bottom) when assembled!
My first idea for the pull-out poster sections was to create a globe image in four sections with All You Need Is Love circling the earth. The border was to be the word "love" repeated in twenty different languages. I took this idea directly from the "Our World" press event in which the Beatles wore sandwich boards hand painted with All You Need Is Love in multiple languages to promote the event. The following day, on June 25th, 1967 the Beatles performed All You Need Is Love as part of the "Our World" satellite broadcast. Unfortunately, the foreign languages were omitted from my designs due to too many translation issues. The globe looked good as a single image, but I just couldn't get it to break down nicely into the four segments and still have each page stand nicely on its own. So, I was back to the drawing board.
My second idea, and the one that you see here, was to make it look like a blacklight hippie poster from the '60s. The style is a bit different from the rest of the coloring book, but I felt that was the right way to approach it — make it something unique and special. Also, what if someone would like to put it above a door, or down the wall like a full length mirror? To do this, the poster needed to fit together in as many ways as possible — horizontally, vertically, square, or staggered. This was easy enough, given that each section was a single letter, but they needed to work as a unit as well, so with the addition of a decorative border, the mural can connect at the corners. Each letter also had its own color scheme and theme: "L" hearts — "O" musical notes — "V" flowers — "E" peace signs.
The added touch that I like the most is the inclusion of the incidental background lyrics — "It's Easy!", "All Together Now!", "Everybody!", and "She Loves You Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!". A fun way to get two more song references into the book and stick to the supplied list of approved songs.* In the end, this new design captured the feel from the "Our World" event better than my first idea. I hope kids are taping this poster on their walls!
You can read more about my work for The Crayola Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon and McCartney here.
The book is available for purchase at Amazon and Crayola.
*Neither All Together Now, nor She Loves You were included in the official licensing list of approved Lennon & McCartney songs, but since both these songs' lyrics were included in All You Need Is Love, I was able to put them on the poster.
Bling It On!, a new adult coloring book that I designed and illustrated for Crayola is now available for purchase in stores, on Amazon, and directly from Crayola. It's the second in the Art With Edge—Just Sayin' series. Some of the pages have really cool gold foil and gold ink.
Each page of the book has an inspirational message or affirmation. I wanted to tie these phrases into the glamour aspect of the book by including lots of jewels and diamond shapes - you know, BLING! The book has a fun high school vibe to it with quite a bit of visual variety. Whenever I work on any project, I can't help but try to include a few characters here and there. That's what made it really fun to work on. It's out now, so go get one!
I produce illustrations and creative idea solutions for toys, packaging, publishing and advertising. I'm also a painter and educator with an MFA from Syracuse university.