Monday, September 8, 2014

Who The Hell is Bill Bogusky? Uhmmmm... The Original Bogusky!

Who the hell is Bill Bogusky? A long overdue history lesson.

When Alex hosted an episode of FearlessQA a couple of years ago with guests Bill Wright and David Swartz on the idea of "old school" thinking. During the episode Dave held up a book called logos written by a Bill Bogusky. Since then I've always wanted to do a piece on Bill.

This week Alex will host his dad in a episode of FearlessQA. I'm no clairvoyant but this should be a great show. I think the sub-title should read, "Shit My Father Says - The Bogusky Edition".

So who is Bill Bogusky? He was born in 1934, a New York native Bill studied Graphic Design at the School of Industrial Art and Pratt Institute. From department store layout artist to agency art director it was really when he set up shop in south Florida with his brother Al, creating “The Brothers Bogusky” that's when Bill hit full stride.

The "Brothers Bogusky” garnered numerous national and international awards, most notably an entry in the Annual Report Issue of Graphis. A special "Annual Reports" issue? Okay, for you youngin's out there that was was the "schizzle" of the day. Yup we waited every month for our CA Magazines or Graphis to arrive to see who was doing the great work. Dog-eared copies sat for years by our desks. Getting into the Graphis Annual which published the Mead Paper Annual Report Show winner well yes, that was like winning a Cannes Lion. Yes you can look it up, The Brothers Bogusky won for American Foods Corporation in 1969. Bill recently posted on his blog, "Ever since high school at the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan, I dreamed of someday being in Graphis. Feels nice". 

Bogusky spent two years in the army as "Special Services Promoter" at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. It is there he met his wife of over 50 years, Dixie. They married and moved to Miami, Florida and he and his brother Al set up their studio "The Brothers Bogusky.” One could suggest that Bill Bogusky is part of the the south Florida "design and advertising royalty". The studio was a very successful full-service design firm, but it was when a windsurfing copywriter from Minneapolis named Chuck Porter began to freelance for a tiny Miami ad shop named Crispin, it is there that Chuck met Bill Bogusky. As the story goes, Crispin sent a project up to The Brothers Bogusky, when it returned back to the agency, Chuck remarked to Bill, "who did the design and art direction on this piece?", Bill remarked, "my kid Alex, why is there a problem?". Nope. Chuck offered Bill's son Alex a senior art director job at what became Crispin & Porter--and eventually Crispin Porter+Bogusky.

One of fun things I learned about Bill was he designed a logo that had a big influence on my design future.

I am a big time sports fan. It was sports team logo design that got me started. In the late 1960's and early 1970's there was no shortage of expansion of the traditional sports leagues but also the birth of new leagues to challenge them. One of these leagues was the American Basketball Association, the one team that caught my eye was the Miami Floridians. I was on vacation over winter break with my dad and we ventured to Miami Convention Center to watch the ABA best Kentucky Colonels. I was just impressed with colors of the "Floridians" and the simple silhouette image of a player on the beautiful typographic wordmark. (see all the unique and inspiring ABA logos here.)

There is a great added advertising connection to the Floridians history was when the original owner were awash in red ink, in stepped legendary ad man Ned Doyle, a recently retired advertising executive (best known in the ad world for his imaginative Volkswagen ads and one of the "D" in DDB) to buy the team. Doyle, fired the entire team only keeping the coach - a rather novel approach. He also dropped "Miami" from the team name and the franchise went "regional," playing its home games in Miami Beach, Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach. I gather always an adman, Doyle went "promo" crazy. New logo and team colors were changed to magenta, hot orange and black, and the ball girls, wearing skimpy bikinis, were hired. Fun times.

Bogusky’s many logo designs appear in many logo anthologies.  In fact there was a book published, but now out of print book called "Logos" which featured the many designs created over the years.

Among the first to embrace the Mac, Bill launched a new passion in type design. “My first font “gogobig” is still my favorite” he said. He has designed over 58 fonts and family of weights. "The computer has allowed me to fulfill a life-long dream of designing my own fonts. A great program, Fontographer, made the design implementation a joy. But the mechanics of assembly, pair kerning, file formats and and more minutia, made the process tedious at times. Nevertheless, through it all. a labor of love". Bill added, "at first I distributed my fonts as "shareware" on the internet. An honor system where users would download the fonts and send you a small amount of money, if they actually used the font. Many downloads later, I pulled in about $20. My retirement fund needed a better way". But that has changed.

Bill discovered a service called "MyFonts" a really cool website that allows designers to lists their fonts with full alphabet displays and color samples.  "I set my prices, and began to sell, and I reasoned: more fonts, more sales". Bill says (and I gather with tongue firmly placed in his cheek) "I now have over seventy fonts in my quiver. The income? It beats army pay". Bill even sold a font to Nike. "They used it on a poster campaign. It's really a kick to see one of my fonts on TV or in a magazine ad".

I get true sense that the apple didn't fall from the "humble tree" for Alex. "I love it. In my brief planet visit, I have gone from the lower east side of New York to Global", Bill says about all that is at his finger tips.
Recently Bill has also turned to another passion of his photography. He has published a photographic essay book of the Phantom Lake Ranch in Red Feather Lakes in Colorado. The photos are chaptered into the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter with many double-page spread photos.
The Bogusky's, Bill and Dixie now live in Louisville, Colorado and roam around in their vintage '58 Morgan+4 roadster.

Yup, all in the family in the mountain air.

PS: Bill, if you have a copy of Logos in the attic. Please send it along, sign it and I promise it will be archived in our library forever.

I am sure we all have questions. Tune in to FearlessQA and Tweet your questions.



Anonymous said...

Great Article. I agree, long overdue. If I may, I'd like to set the record straight, it was I, Dave Swartz, that held up Bill's book of logos on Fearless. His work has been an inspiration to me for many years.
I met Bill when I was 12. I was immediately taken by his work at that young age. When I hanging out with Alex, Bill would always come home and show us the work he was doing. I knew then I wanted to be a graphic designer. He has been like a father to me, a mentor, a coach and a friend for many years. Thanks for posting this story.

Dave Swartz

Anthony Kalamut said...

Thank you Dave for clearing that up for me. (I have corrected the error)

It was a great blast to hear Bill speak with Alex on FearlessQA.



Anonymous said...

Inspiring story there. What occurred after? Take care!

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