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*Beechies Gum was originally made by the Beech-Nut Company and introduced in 1933.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.
Scenes from THE BIG SALAD.
UPDATE 05/12/2020: The Crayola Travel Color 'n Rub packaging made another appearance in the sixth season of Seinfeld. In the episode "The Diplomat's Club", Jerry is mistaken for a pharmacist by Elaine's boss, Mr. Pitt. Jerry knocks over a display of L'eggs pantyhose. While Jerry picks them up, Mr. Pitt asks him about the safety of over-the-counter antihistamines with his prescription medications. To the left I saw a Crayola display of crayons, a box I cannot recognize, and the Crayola Travel Color 'n Rub!
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!
Designing the Cover for the "Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney" Coloring Songbook by Crayola
Covers are very important. And in the long line of books about The Beatles, you really want to stand out. The first draft for the cover of the Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney Coloring Songbook was an internal mock-up by the Crayola Design Department using a rough sketch of my Good Day Sunshine illustration. Later, this sketch was taken to a full finish for the inside of the book. It's typical for publishers to get the general look of the books ready in order to present the proof of concept to potential resellers; that, being a coloring book of Beatles lyrics.
This cover was very much a collaborative effort between me and the designers at Crayola. Sometimes these first or second drafts make their way as sales samples or as online images prior to the completion of the book (that's why you often see discrepancies between online images and the final product you hold in your hand. This cover went through several revisions, ultimately becoming a collage of images from selected coloring pages.
The first cover I worked on prominently featured Prudence (from the song Dear Prudence). The first layout for the cover was started prior to completing all 40 interior pages and again, was used as a sales sample. You can see that much of the art on the first cover was rough sketches. Once all the interior pages were completed, I went back to work on the refining the cover. The designs became more and more complex — just to see how much I could fit in and still make it look nice. There was a lot of back and forth with the art director at Crayola and it finally got pulled together into design with a strong focal point.
I think I did about four or five cover variations before we landed on the one you see today. I sent the final artwork to Crayola with all the Photoshop layers intact, knowing they would need to adjust the art in case of any production changes... the biggest change being the hierarchy of logos and titles. The primary name of the book became The Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook in order to accommodate future books in the series, whether it be Lennon & McCartney or other musical acts.
The cover layout and the back of the book were completed in-house at Crayola. When I got my first copy, I was very happy to see what a great job they did adding hand coloring. I don't think I would have done it any better!
The First Beatles Coloring Book - 1964
1964 - The Beatles Official Coloring Book by The Saalfield Publishing Company
The first licensed Beatles coloring book came out in 1964 by Saalfield Publishing and was intended for an American audience. The coloring pages focus on the Beatles' first visit to America, the products kids could buy, and promoting the American versions of their albums. Some of the pages are actual photographs of the Fab Four. The book is very straightforward in its design, with simplistic but well done inkings meant for very young kids. I love the cover — the colors, the fonts... it really stands out. Printed before I was born, and I finally got my own copy a month ago. A few pages in the book were beautifully colored by some young Beatles fans back in 1964.
Illustrated Lyrics by Alan Aldridge
1969 - The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics by Alan Aldridge
This book was and is a major influence on me. Alan Aldridge was an amazing artist who illustrated and designed rock posters, magazines, books, and record album covers for or about The Beatles, Elton john, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan to name a few. The way he interprets the lyrics is a uniquely psychedelic approach that is his alone. I was about twelve years old when I got a copy of this book. If my mom had any idea how truly "adult" most of this book is, she would have probably taken it away from me. I'm glad she didn't. In high school, I tried to paint a copy of the cover. I failed miserably. Alan Aldridge is a tough act to follow.
And in the end...
Besides being influenced by Alan Aldridge, I had other images in mind for the Crayola book.
With everything that had come before and in addition to not being able to use any existing Beatles likenesses or imagery — I went out of my way to make my interpretations of The Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney as unique as possible.
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.
How PEZ sparked a romance and ended up in the Getty Gallery at the Los Angeles Central Library.
This was my first job for candy manufacturer, PEZ. It was a major commission and I was thrilled for a number of reasons. One, well, it's PEZ. Who wouldn't want to make art for this iconic candy company? Two, it was the first time I illustrated a candy package. And three, it was pretty much the catalyst which created a friendship that led to marriage.
I have to go back to 1975. I was a kid growing up in Sayre, Pennsylvania. A very small town near Upstate New York. There was a store called Jordan's News Stand. It was also the bus stop and the place to buy candy, Wacky Packages, and rubber monsters. Of all the candies I bought there, and there were a lot, Nice Mice by Stark Confections was one that carved itself into my memories. All throughout the 80s and 90s I had looked for it.
When the internet thing happened, I searched online, hoping just to find a picture of it. Then one day, it happened! There it was, in The Candy Wrapper Museum, a newly launched website for showcasing the candy collection of Darlene Waddington. As it turns out, Nice Mice was the first piece she had collected in 1975 when she thought of creating her museum in Los Angeles, California, the same year I was buying the candy 3,000 miles away. Of course I had to write to her.
We exchanged pleasant emails and things were nice and professional. Then, I get an email from PEZ asking if I would be interested in working on the new Holiday packaging. I was so excited! When I had the art done, I emailed Darlene a screenshot of it, figuring she would write back right away. I heard nothing for almost two months. Well, I guessed she wasn't impressed. Little did I know (or Darlene), my email got sucked into her spam folder! Good for me, because she felt so guilty, we started writing to each other more seriously. Over a year of sending emails, then a couple phone calls, and now we're happily married for almost 14 years!
Selected pieces from Darlene's candy wrapper collection (along with Holiday PEZ) are now part of a major art exhibit — 21 Collections: Every Object Has a Story at The Getty Gallery in Los Angeles' Central Library. The thesis of the exhibition is that personal collections create stories of our world that traditional history has not told. It was an honor for Darlene's collection to not only be included, but to be the first one selected. However, more importantly, Nice Mice and Darlene now reside in my house. Not a bad deal!
You can visit The Candy Wrapper Museum here.
Crayola Signature Coloring Songbook: Lyrics by Lennon & McCartney
36 premium 8” x 10” line art coloring sheets plus a full color, 4-panel wall art piece.
The book is available for purchase Amazon or Crayola.
When Crayola contacted me to ask if I'd interested in working on this book, I practically jumped out of my chair! Are you kidding?! I was on cloud nine. About a week later, I received all the specs from the licensing agency and I was ready to go.
The challenge creating the art for this book was the stipulation that I couldn’t use any preexisting Beatles imagery or likenesses. Everything had to be my original interpretations — something less common for officially licensed products, especially for a project of this size. I embraced this "restriction" as it allowed me to take the book in a direction that totally new. What I learned about the lyrics of Lennon & McCartney is that there are so many numerous ways to depict them. I could have done twelve different illustrations for each song!
I was given a list of 50 songs to pick from. The book is made up of 37 Lennon & McCartney songs — All You Need Is Love is a full-color, four page wall mural! I wish I could have illustrated the almost 180 songs they had written together because when I got to the last few pages, I was sad that this project was coming to an end. It was so much fun to work on, and all the people at Crayola could not have been more supportive and enthusiastic about this book. I wanted it to go on forever! There's also four pages — Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite, Yellow Submarine, and Revolution — that are color enhanced for even more coloring fun!
To say I'm a Beatles fan is putting it modestly. I bought my first Beatles record when I was in fifth grade, and for four more years that's all I bought. I listened to the Beatles, I drew pictures of the Beatles, I basically thought about the Beatles every day. I listened to some of those records so much, I had to buy new copies because they were getting worn out! I still have all of them. I think I'll go play some now. I hope Paul McCartney likes the book. I hope you like the book.
Here's the stories behind eight of the illustrated pages:
I AM THE WALRUS
There were so many ways to illustrate this song. I was quite nervous working on it, since it’s such an amazing musical achievement. In the end, I decided to go for a theatrical feel. This song was first released in 1967 as a double — A side single with HELLO GOODBYE by The Beatles.
WHEN I’M SIXTY-FOUR
This was the first page of the book I illustrated. It has a Victorian feel to it, which was very popular in the 1960s. One of the first songs Paul McCartney wrote, when he was only sixteen, it was reworked by John and Paul in 1967 for the album SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.
I wanted this page to have a real hippie, nature feel to it. This song is from The Beatles’ 1968 WHITE ALBUM and is based on Prudence Farrow, sister of actress Mia Farrow, who was with the Beatles in India while studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
This is definitely the one the of the strangest illustrations in the book and one that was a lot of fun to work on. Lennon started this as a campaign song for Timothy Leary's run for governor of California against Ronald Reagan in 1969.
“The thing was created in the studio. It's gobbledygook; Come Together was an expression that Leary had come up with for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. I tried and tried, but I couldn't come up with one. But I came up with this, Come Together, which would've been no good to him - you couldn't have a campaign song like that, right?” ~ John Lennon
DRIVE MY CAR
I wanted this page to be like one of those “WIN THIS BICYCLE!” sweepstakes that appeared so often in the back of comic books. The swirling hair that becomes part of the floor, the smile and eyelashes on the car, were all meant to imply the car and the girl are one in the same. Written in 1965, McCartney said this song was lyrically "one of the stickiest" writing sessions he and Lennon had worked on.
Most of this book stayed very close to my original vision. PENNY LANE started out as mostly text and a small scene of stores and street lamps. I gave it some serious thought and decided all the characters should be a part of the nurse’s “play” that is going on in her head — “she feels as if she's in a play / she is anyway”. I posed my wife for reference and I ended up with one of the coolest pages in this book. McCartney wrote this song based on scenes and characters from Penny Lane, an actual street in Liverpool. Originally intended for inclusion on the album SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, the song was released in 1967 as a double — A side with STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER.
This is possibly my favorite Beatles song (which is why I drew myself as the main character). It was fun to include as many references in the song as possible. The two-finger typing method depicted in the illustration is a nod to author Mickey Spillane, famous for his Mike Hammer crime novels. It’s a song that starts and just keeps going! McCartney wrote PAPERBACK WRITER in 1966 after he read an article in the Daily Mail about an aspiring book author.
TICKET TO RIDE
I saw this one visually more surrealistic than the song actually implies. I focused on the lines "living with me is bringing her down", "she would never be free" and "she's riding so high" to depict her as an uncaged bird. It has a nice comic book romance feel to it. Although the song is obviously about a relationship that has ended sadly, there are several conflicting interpretations of the song that you can research online for yourself. Released in 1965, TICKET TO RIDE became the Beatles' seventh consecutive number 1 hit single in the UK.
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE
John Lennon wrote the song in 1967 based on an actual circus poster from 1843. I paid homage to this by including the same classic Greek styled border around the page. It was my first choice to be one of the four color enhanced pages from this book.
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
I wanted to do a kind of Art Nouveau style on this illustration. It's another page in the book that does not have the title of the song in the picture and because of this, it's more about the scene and what is happening. I never planned on putting as many references into the picture as I did. Wish this page was a poster! i could have done all of them! John Lennon said his inspiration for the song came from a drawing his son Julian brought home from nursery school and that much of the imagery was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books. The song was written in 1967 for the album SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.
"Listen to the color of your dreams" ~ Tomorrow Never Knows / Lennon & McCartney
I produce illustrations and creative idea solutions for toys, packaging, publishing and advertising. I'm also a writer and fine art painter.
• MFA, Syracuse University