Jack Hamm (1910-1996) was a name notoriously renowned in the world of art and illustration. The American artist achieved esteem through his work in marketing and magazine illustrations, which commonly conveyed sarcasm through use of imaginative characters and animals. His sketches birthed two of the most identifiable images – the 7-Up mascot and the perpetually spotless ‘Mr. Clean’ for Procter & Gamble.
It was during the 1930s that Hamm’s career as a commercial artist began in Pennsylvania. Years later, when the opportunity presented itself, he moved to the bustling city of New York and found various jobs with advertising agencies. It wasn’t until 1945, even after all the hard work he put in to reach professional success, that Hamm earned his true breakthrough. He was given a remarkable chance by J. Walter Thompson to generate artwork for 7-Up drink advertisements and this fortuitous circumstance helped established him as a celebrity figure.
As the 1950s unfolded, Hamm’s illustrations became increasingly sought-after. Taking off like a rocket, he was commissioned by esteemed media giants such as Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post for both cover images and inner articles. He developed a sterling reputation for his prowess in depicting idyllic, humour-infused scenarios through a minimal number of deft movements of the pen, thus earning him widespread notability and admiration over the years.
In 1958, “Mr. Clean” was conjured up by Hamm, a character to represent Procter & Gamble that ended up becoming distinct and iconic. This man boasted a gleaming head and alluring mustache, conjuring an image of strength and cleanliness. Additionally, Hamm brought to life the “Span and Spic” housewife and the cheery “Pillsbury Doughboy” for Pillsbury Company.
Hamm left a mark not just in advertising and magazines, but also in the realm of children’s literature. His most iconic piece is arguably “The Story of Ferdinand”, penned in 1936, which narrates the escapades of a bull who prefers taking in fragrant blossoms instead of participating in bullfights. In 1938, this beloved tale spawned an acclaimed animated movie adaptation.
Throughout the better part of the last decade, Hamm persevered as an illustrator, eventually succumbing to death in 1996 at a ripe age of 86.
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