Tuesday, March 8, 2011

History of Graphic Design through Scorecards of the Chicago Cubs

Update: 03/08/2011 - 3:19 PM   With some direction from commenter, "norman" I have gotten a little further in my research on Otis Shepard. When Shepard came to Wrigley in 1933 he was already a big time advertising Art Director, he had been designing advertising with "Foster & Kleiser Outdoor Advertising" for years. Foster & Kleiser were one of the big rising names in advertising at the time, their innovations in outdoor advertising (read: highway billboards,) and the increasing popularity of the car turned them into a national firm working with companies like Pontiac, branding Hollywood movie stars for Paramount Pictures and many other national brands by 1930. These were the Ad Men, the masters of think on the leading edge of an understanding of the psychology of a Nation, the beginning of Madison Avenue.

By the time Otis Shepard moved on to the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company as Art Director in 1933 he was creating "design concepts" with-in "branding strategies" - not pieces of art. So... enjoy the concepts below, very few of which were likely drawn by the man himself, but all of which were undoubtedly approved by him.

Clear Channel-Outdoor History.
Clear Channel-Outdoor History - 1926 to 1950
Cathy Wade Shepard's comment at Heckadude + Design.

Chicago Cubs Scorecard - 1952
A week ago Allan Wood at Joy of Sox ran a nice piece on the art of Otis Shepard (1894-1969), who worked 30 years for Wrigley's Gum as artist and then Art Director between 1932-1963.

By some accounts Shepard worked for Wrigley's from 1914 and by others didn't start at Wrigley until 1932. Some have him born in 1893 others in 1894. Details are sketchy, and often when I found out something new about him, the blogs in question didn't reference their sources.

The Wrigley site doesn't talk about people except the great man himself; all else is branding and numbers. Soul-less corporations, full of poor faceless souls. Wrigley is now a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated, so perhaps the history of the company didn't make the leap to digital; or perhaps the divide to new ownership.
(ed 03/08/2011 - 3:19PM)
The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company site has this to say about Shepard:
"The distinctive billboard campaigns created in the late 1930s by Wrigley art director Otis Shepard fixed the Doublemint twin concept in the American imagination. Shepard's distinctive airbrush techniques and simple, clear designs were well suited for outdoor advertisements and have been widely recognized in the commercial art field.

The only thing new I could dig up on Shepard was a short reference to him in a piece at Today's Inspiration, "Fred Ludekens, Close-up". Apparently he taught at the  University of California Extension School in the 1920's or early 1930's where he taught, Fred Ludekens (1900-1982). Fred Ludekens so the story and the school tells me, was a member of the Famous Artists School's founding faculty. The Famous Artists School's history section says, it was "founded by the giants in their field, nationally known and recognized [...] in the “golden age” of American illustration".

Shepard hasn't left much of a trail for us curators of the internet to follow, but it seems like more and more people are wakening to this fellows talent. My research today reminds me of the later years of the resurgence of the minor leagues, in the early 1990's - I caught the tail end of the cult before it exploded and died - about the time the movie Bull Durham came out... Feels like that now, like Otis Shepard's work is on the verge of a renaissance - and perhaps all of those extraordinarily talented graphic designers from the 1950's and 1960's. In 2003 "Antiques and the Arts Online" reported that a poster by Otis Shepard, "Rails to Sales / Subway Posters" (1947) sold for $5,060.00.

Below are some examples of Shepard's work, and perhaps some that may only be influenced by him - drawn by artists that he taught the ropes, at Wrigley's as head of the Art Department. The following were covers of Chicago Cubs Scorecards between 1950 - 1968.






See Allan Wood's piece at Joy of Sox, "Otis Shepard - Cubs Scorecard Art".

See Chicago Cubs scorecards from 1898 - 2010 - at "Cubs By The Numbers" blog.

Reference sources:

Heckadude + Design - "Otis Shepard & the Chicago Cubs":

Famous Artists School:

Cubs By The Numbers - "Cubs Scorecards Thru The Years":

Today's Inspiration - "Fred Ludekens, Close-up":

2Blowhards - "Otis Shepard, Who Didn't Gum Things Up":



  1. Shepard started at Wrigley in 1933

    Birthdate is unknown (no records) best guess is 1894

    He was an extremely well-known designer, illustrator, art director during the 1930s and 40s. His baseball work came via Wrigley, but he had other lengthy and productive parts of his career.

  2. norman,

    Thank you very much for pointing the way. 'Art Director' was the key.

  3. "Moving Images: The Transportation Poster in America" by Steve Strauss. Chapter 3 is devoted to Shepard.

  4. Thanks supercleg!

    I'll look that up in WorldCat (all the world's libraries catalogue).

    Here it is, nearest branch: Buffalo NY :(


  5. PS
    All of your samples were executed by Shepard himself

  6. Oh good. Thanks Norman, that's good to know. Adds to the piece. Thank you.