NCS Spotlight on… Roy Doty

October 28th, 2010

The mind-boggling thing about any Roy Doty illustration is how effortlessly he tackles a HUGE crowd – and manages to have every person engage in an individual activity or pose.

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No repetition here… McCall’s staff members, as delineated in Doty’s immaculate pen line for the December ’62 issue, are as varied as they would have been in real life. ┬áHe even included likenesses of key staffers and specific references to the contents of that issue.

For instance, that must be art director Otto Storch (below) in the commander’s seat of the McCall’s art department…

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Roy even included a self portrait (I presume “Hershey” is the woman standing next to him and the author of the accompanying poem in the centre of the page).

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Roy Doty’s style has remained largely unchanged throughout his career… and yet its never looked dated. As other illustration and cartooning styles fell in and out of fashion, Roy’s clean, simple linework has always looked fresh and current. A testament to the merit of that old adage: “Keep it simple.”

A couple of years ago I found Roy’s work in the 1948 New York Art Directors Annual. When I mentioned that book to him during the New Orleans Reubens weekend his eyes lit up and he recounted a great story about the early days of his career:

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“I’d been seven weeks in New York at that time, my discharge pay had just about run out. Studio rent and the rent on my one room apartment on East 18th Street would run out in a week. I think I had visited every art director in New York by that time. Eight to ten appointments a day. Did have a ticket back to Columbus. On that last week the phone rang on a Monday morning… it was the New York Times Magazine. Could I possibly do three drawings for them… HAH! You bet I could. On Wednesday the phone rang and it was the art director of CBS… could I do a full page ad for them… you bet… Friday the phone again rang… this time it was Seventeen Magazine… two two page spreads! The CBS ad made the 26th Art Director’s Annual. That was the l947 Awards volume.”

“I guess I made the Annuals every year after that for many years. The Arthur Godfrey ad was one of my favorites however.”

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In the accompanying text to the Arthur Godfrey CBS ad (which won an ‘Award for Distinctive Merit’) Roy wrote, “I got the assignment for this series of drawings from Bill Golden in the form of a thumb-nail sketch and a stern admonition to fill the spread with people – not just shapes, but people drawn in complete detail.”

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“I was completely enthusiastic about the idea.”

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Another of Roy’s CBS ads (below) was featured in that same 1948 AD Annual (unfortunately reproduced at a much smaller size). Still, a remarkable accomplishment for a newcomer to the competitive business of advertising illustration – and a powerful comfirmation from the NY Art Directors Club that this kid from Columbus, Ohio had the right stuff.

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Roy told me,“I really was down to my return trip home to Columbus, Ohio when I got my first assignment. I ended up back in Columbus anyway… but by my own volition… and fifty five years later.”

Determining whether someone is a cartoonist or an illustrator may seem inconsequential to a lot of people… but for some artists like Roy Doty it has been the source of some frustration.

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“I really didn’t know many of the illustrators,” Roy told me, I tried to join the NCS. Two of my neighbors in North Stamford were Ernie Bushmiller and Alex Raymond. Both proposed me for membership in 1950… got turned down, they said I was an illustrator…”

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“Sixteen years later I finally got into the NCS. The Society of Illustrators then asked me to join… I told them to go to ____! I always thought of myself as a cartoonist.”