1970s Illustrated Covers of Travel & Leisure Art Directed by Norman Hotz

1970s Illustrated Covers of Travel & Leisure Art Directed by Norman Hotz [Editor's Note]: Norman Hotz began his art direction career in the late 1960s working for Allen Hurlburt and Will Hopkins at Look magazine. He moved to Travel & Leisure in 1970, where he worked as the deputy to Frank Zachary, and helped create the magazine's iconic logo and design. When Zachary left after 10 issues, the then-25 year old Hotz was named Travel & Leisure's art director. He continued and expanded on Zachary's work, creating a remarkable, award-winning series of illustrated covers and inside pages. After leaving T&L in 1976, Hotz went on to a distinguished career designing and art directing a series of magazines that included Panorama, Families, and Reader's Digest.

For the past 14 years Hotz has worked as a cartoon editor for
Reader's Digest, and continues to work on design projects. In this second part of his magazine design memoir for SPD, Hotz showcases a collection of brilliant illustrated covers of Travel & Leisure, and shares some background on their creation. Don't miss the first part of this memoir, which includes Hotz's memories of working with art director Frank Zachary. This interview was conducted and compiled by Linda Rubes.

(Above): September 1974 cover of Travel & Leisure, art director: Norman Hotz, illustration: Paul Davis.

NORMAN HOTZ: I worked as assistant art director for Frank Zachary at Travel & Leisure. After just 10 issues, Frank announced that he would be leaving T&L and had accepted the position of editor in chief of Town & Country. Frank possessed a rare ability to be both a great editor and a great art director.

American Express did not readily accept the notion of a 25 year old (me) replacing an industry giant like Frank Zachary. Caskie Stinnett who was the editor in chief of T&L was asked to search for a replacement.

Frank made me an early offer to join him, but I wanted to wait out the decision.  For the next several weeks I watched as familiar faces headed into Caskie's office. It was a time when many magazines had folded and the talent pool was large. While the interviews took place I continued to produce the magazine acting as both the art director and his assistant.

One morning as Caskie passed my office he told me to stop by his office and see him. He gave me the news in a most casual way. He simply said, "as the new art director of T&L you need to find yourself a good assistant, hopefully one as good as Frank [Zachary] had." That first assistant was another Frank, Frank DeVino, who later went on to a long career at Penthouse.

I knew I had a great challenge ahead of me, especially with the covers. Caskie afforded me pretty much the same freedom as he did to Frank. He would occasionally ask who I had assigned the cover to in case someone were to ask him.

My earliest recognition as an art director came that same year at the SPD 1974 awards presentation. I had won two awards for overall publication design. Allen Hurlburt was the keynote speaker that night. When he congratulated me later that evening and told me he was proud of what I had accomplished it made for one of the more memorable moments in my career.

I left Travel & Leisure in 1976 shortly after the presses were stopped on a cover that Dick Hess had illustrated. The action was taken by a group of consultants recently appointed by American Express. The editor in chief contacted me while I was on vacation, and I returned to the office to find a replacement cover. After spending most of the night at the Image Bank, I found an image that satisfied everyone, except myself.

I felt their goal was to move away from the illustrated covers and use photography. The constant comment was, "photography is more contemporary." T&L was not a newsstand magazine--the covers did not compete with other magazines and I believed strongly that the illustrated covers were the magazine's identity. It seemed there was no middle ground so I made the decision to leave.

The success of the Travel & Leisure covers was due to the vast array of talented artists that created them. The only direction given was the subject, the accompanying article when available, the trim size, where the logo would go, and a deadline. Each artist had that unique ability do magic with a blank canvas. In only one case did an artist ask for a sketch from the art director--that was the March 1975 Snoopy cover.

TL_1974_07.jpgJuly 1974: Each year we produced an America-themed issue. For the July 1974 issue Oscar De Mejo was assigned to create the cover image. As an admirer of primitive and naive styles, I felt what better style to celebrate our "Birth of a Nation" issue. Although not an American-born artist I considered him an American original. Oscar told the story of American history in many of his paintings that I was familiar with. Oscar chose to celebrate America's growth using the changes in the American flag as the country grew. Like many of the illustrated covers, this was a sharp contrast to the photo essays inside.

TL_1973_06-07.jpgJune/July 1973: Who could not like Ronald Searle's works of art! My fascination was not just with the characters he portrayed, but the entire environment he created. The June/July 1973 issue is a great example of this--I still sit and stare at the architecture appearing on this cover. Ronald was the closest that any illustrator had become to being a regular contributor to the magazine, illustrating countless articles and a number of covers. In those years Ronald's original art had to be sent from abroad, and arrangements were made for it to be picked up at customs. Ronald's art was always shipped to his agent, John Locke. John would call when he had it in hand, but never let me know what he thought. I can't say that I was ever disappointed.

TL_1973_10-11.jpgOctober/November 1973: Robert Andrew Parker illustrated this cover focusing on Brussels' Grand Place. Robert's expressionist style of watercolor delivered a colorful cover which had a sense of immediacy, as if he were on location when he painted it.

TL_1974_01.jpgJanuary 1974: Mary Faulconer produced this wonderfully colorful cover painting for an issue focusing on Martinique. She chose to use the brightly colored buildings as the emphasis. The dreamlike quality of the painting was quite appropriate as that was what travel was to many readers back then.

TL_1974_02.jpgFebruary 1974: I was looking for a playful solution to our first Leisure issue. I did not have to look far. At least once a week Eugene Mihaesco would stop by my office just in case I had an assignment for him. I did not call Eugene to assign the cover. I knew he would soon show up. I don't think he believed me when I told him that I did have something for him this time, and it was a cover. Eugene delivered just the playful solution I had hoped for. His use of illustrations from sugar packets in his collage, came as a pleasant surprise.

TL_1974_09.jpgSeptember 1974: I had waited a long time for Paul Davis to be available for a cover. He had created a few illustrations for the magazine prior to this assignment. It was a rare assignment as it was for the cover and illustrations for the article, "A Train Ride Across Australia." Focusing on the animals, Paul created a memorable cover. The cover was a contrast to the inside illustrations which depicted the vast wilderness.

TL_1974_10.jpgOctober 1974: I first met Pierre Le-Tan in 1972 when his agent Ted Riley introduced him to Frank Zachary and I.
 Frank was quick to see his talent and assigned Pierre a cover that appeared in our Feb./March 1972 issue. On that same trip Pierre sold his first New Yorker cover, making him the youngest artist to appear there. I would still argue as to who found him first.

Pierre had illustrated many articles after that first cover and the October 1974 cover was his next. The playfulness of his style and the colorful solution encompassed much of the flavor of Manila, which was the featured article in the issue.

TL_1974_11.jpgNovember 1974: There could not have been a more festive an artist than John Rombola to create this South of the Border destination cover. John's art was very much like the person I had come to know. John was one of the many artists that would just stop by the office from time to time. He approached every assignment with a great amount of enthusiasm, and that showed in the final project.

TL_1975_02.jpgFebruary 1975: This was our first cruise issue and I wanted to get a contemporary approach to the grand old cruise posters. Illustrator David Plourde had a obvious graphic quality to his paintings combined with a strong use of color.

TL_1975_03.jpgMarch 1975: Charles Schultz's cover was probably the only time I broke the rule and did a doodle of what I was looking for, but it was at his request. We were doing an informative article about the differences in commercial planes. Here again I wanted to go playful, and who knew planes better than Snoopy? Schultz's attorneys and reps for United Features syndicate intercepted my calls, always turning down the assignment on his behalf. I was told he only did one magazine cover per year and that was for Time. I was also told that the syndicate had to get a fee equal to what Schultz received. Our cover rate was $750. I continued to call and totally by chance one evening ended up reaching Schultz directly. I went through the whole pitch with him and the stumbling blocks I had hit. He admired my tenacity and agreed to do the cover, $375 dollars for him and the same for the syndicate.

TL_1975_12.jpgDecember 1975: Ed Koren created this delightful cover for our issue focusing on skiing in the Rockies. Like many of the other cover artists, Ed had illustrated several articles in the magazine. Besides it being a skiing issue it was our December issue, and Ed did a magnificent job of creating an image for both. The Santa costumes on the skiing reindeer, the expressions on the reindeer faces--it's a perfect example of creative brilliance.

Related story:
Remembering Art Director Frank Zachary, by Norman Hotz

Norman Hotz website

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