Free Lancing: E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.

by Alden Cole on May 23, 2014 · 0 comments

Wilmington, Delaware chemical giant E.I. duPont de Nemours has come a long way since it was founded as a gunpowder mill in 1802 by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont; eventually becoming one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers. In the 20th century the company turned its genius to the creation of numerous synthetics used in the textile industry, including nylon, orlon, dacron, lycra, corfam, and qiana; these products were in addition to DuPont’s development of materials that have become virtual household names: neoprene, teflon, mylar, tyvek, corian, and kevlar among others. If you want to check out an interesting overview of their genesis, check out the wiki-entry on the company:

3pagesDupontWPSo how does all this relate to me? In ’71, one of the first clients I picked up when I made the transition from fashion design to fashion illustration was an agency that used the rather generic name The Merchandising Group. Located at Madison and 53rd Street in Manhattan, it soon became one of my most regular stops in the weekly scramble to drum up new work. And one of their biggest clients was DuPont. Over a two-year-plus period from 1971 to 1973, this agency was my major client, and I created hundreds of illustrations for them, and ultimately DuPont; starting primarily with men’s wear, and gradually moving into the illustration of women’s wear as my mainstay. Virtually all these jobs were created for in-trade publications, never to be seen by the general public; multi-page catalogs which often featured actual fabric swatches tipped onto the illustrations – as seen above – promoting fabrics manufactured by DuPont.

MensSpWPThe three illustrations above were from one of the early spiral-bound catalog jobs done for the agency, sometime in ’71; whereas those at left were from a later catalog, published in early ’73. By the time these second illustrations were done I was in my stride, turning out numerous drawings for various clients every week. The process had became much easier, thanks to a facility that comes with repetition. On a personal level, in the spring of ’71 I met and started living with one Robert Mayberry, my second attempt at establishing a viable partnership. The stabilizing influence of a stimulating and satisfying relationship freed me to focus more intently on my new and rather unexpected career as an illustrator. By the following spring I was busier than I had ever been, or expected to be, or even wanted to be for that matter; however the success was heady, and in my naiveté I figured that “I had arrived” on the scene, with a career as a successful fashion illustrator guaranteed, and just waiting for total fruition…

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