Remembering Art Director Frank Zachary, by Norman Hotz

Remembering Art Director Frank Zachary, by Norman Hotz [Editor's Note]: Legendary magazine editor and art director Frank Zachary passed away on June 12 at the age of 101. Zachary was the art director, photography director, and managing editor of Holiday, the beautiful, stylish 1950s-early 60s travel magazine. He later worked as art director of Travel & Leisure and editor of Town and Country. In 1987 Zachary was honored with the SPD Herb Lubalin Award "to acknowledge continuing excellence in publication design."

Zachary's deputy art director in the early 1970s at
Travel & Leisure was Norman Hotz. After a year at the magazine, Zachary left to become editor of Town and Country, and Hotz took over as art director. Hotz's award-winning stint at T&L was followed by a distinguised career redesigning and art directing numerous other magazines, and he continues as a consulting art director for cartoons at Reader's Digest

Hotz shared with SPD his memories of working with Zachary at
Travel & Leisure. We also have a never-before collected set of all 10 of Zachary's Travel & Leisure covers.

This is the first part of a two-part remembrance by Hotz of his years at
T&L. Stay tuned for part two in the near future. The interviews with Hotz were compiled and edited by Linda Rubes.

(Above): Travel & Leisure, June-July 1971. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: George Giusti.

  • Travel & Leisure, Autumn 1971. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: John Rombola.
    Travel & Leisure, Autumn 1971. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: John Rombola.
  • Travel & Leisure, October-November 1971. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Prefete Duffaut.
    Travel & Leisure, October-November 1971. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Prefete Duffaut.
  • Travel & Leisure, December-January 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Beni Montresor.
    Travel & Leisure, December-January 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Beni Montresor.
  • Travel & Leisure, February-March 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Pierre Le-Tan.
    Travel & Leisure, February-March 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Pierre Le-Tan.
  • Travel & Leisure, April-May 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Samuel Maitin.
    Travel & Leisure, April-May 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Samuel Maitin.
  • Travel & Leisure, June-July 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Gervasio Gallardo.
    Travel & Leisure, June-July 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Gervasio Gallardo.
  • Travel & Leisure, Autumn 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: John Glashan.
    Travel & Leisure, Autumn 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: John Glashan.
  • Travel & Leisure, October-November 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Robert Kipniss.
    Travel & Leisure, October-November 1972. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Robert Kipniss.
  • Travel & Leisure, December-January 1973. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Ivan Generalic.
    Travel & Leisure, December-January 1973. Art director: Frank Zachary, illustration: Ivan Generalic.


NORMAN HOTZ: I was working as an assistant art director at Cowles Communications when I was approached to work on the launch of a new magazine for American Express, Travel & Leisure. The early transformation stages went well, but when the first issue of Travel & Leisure came out American Express was greatly disappointed. My relationship with the art director was strained and I felt I had to leave.

In a matter of days, the Editor-in-Chief of Travel & Leisure called the staff into his office to announce that he and the art director were going to be replaced by former Holiday Editor-in-Chief Caskie Stinnett and art director Frank Zachary. Who else stayed would be their decision. Later that day I got a phone call from Frank Zachary, who said that he wanted to meet with me the next day at the T&L offices.

Our first meeting was probably the most uncomfortable situation I had ever been in. It took place in a long time empty office and about 10 minutes into our meeting, Frank clasped his hands behind his head, leaned back in the chair and disappeared. The chair had gone out from under him. It was difficult to hold back my reaction.

From there on it was all uphill. We had a long session and as noon approached Frank suggested we go out to lunch "to celebrate both our new jobs." Although the lunch was his idea, I got stuck with the check. I already had a company credit card.

Work on the rebirth of the magazine started that very afternoon. Fortunately the magazine was published every other month so we did have a bit of time.

The first challenge was the logo, and we commissioned a few outside designers. They each did great work but the decision was one which I designed working with a slightly modified Fermin Didot. I felt the simplicity would work well with the varied styles of illustration that were to appear on the cover.

It did not take long to realize the genius that Frank possessed. I don't think there was an artist, photographer, writer, or publication he was not familiar with. It seemed there was no one he did not know. Frank included me in everything he did. For at least eight hours a day it was like we were attached at the hip. Through Frank I got to meet many of the most talented people in the industry, forging many lasting relationships.

When Frank made presentations to the board at American Express, I would accompany him. It was brave of him. I was all of 24 years old, nice suits maybe, but the hair was a bit long, the ties a bit wide and way too colorful, and the Viva Zapata mustache did not play well for some of the corporate folks. I was never able to grow the handlebars that Will Hopkins had.

The illustrated covers of Travel & Leisure were Frank's concept and one that I was proud to continue for more than 30 covers after Frank left the magazine.

Our days were spent reading articles, getting assignments out, playing with designs, there seemed to never be an idle moment. Keeping up with Frank was pretty much like trying to outrun a violent tornado.

The end of the workday was a special time. Frank would usually walk home; for him it was the Upper East Side. Our offices were on West 31st Street. Home for me was the Bronx and I could catch an express bus on 33rd Street. Instead I would walk to the last available bus stop, at 73rd Street, to get every minute with Frank. Frank would find inspiration everywhere along the way--it would come from window displays, products, signs, anything that involved design.
 
We had many great lunches with illustrators and photographers, sometimes groups of them at the same time. Through Frank I learned the importance of collaboration and to be aware of more than just what their portfolios showed. Frank also had a great knack for spotting new talent and never hesitated to take a risk--another Zachary tradition I carried on through my career.

George Guisti created the first cover illustration for Travel & Leisure. It was a bold, simple graphic design. I was delighted to see my logo as a part of it. George would do a number of covers for T&L over the years. I would call upon George many years later to produce the premiere issue cover for a new magazine that I was creating on for TV Guide named Panorama.

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 the 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. I knew both he and Frank had confidence in me. But what had to be, had to be.

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 available talent pool was large.
 
While the interviews took place I continued to produce the magazine acting as the art director and his assistant. I had a wealth of knowledge and wanted to test my own ability.

One morning as Caskie passed my office he told me to stop by and see him when I was free. Not an unusual request. He gave me the news in a most casual way. He simply said, "as the new art director of T&L you better find yourself a good assistant, hopefully one as good as Frank had."


  • Norman Stephen Hotz

    Frank knew no borders when it came to art. You might also be interested to know that Frank's parents were immigrants from Croatia.

  • Nikola Mileta

    Indeed, art does not have borders. And this fact about Frank's roots is another surprise. This truly is a great story.

  • Nikola Mileta

    Great story indeed. But what I surprise to see that my fellow Croatian, Ivan Generalic's painting Deer Wedding was commisioned for T&L cover (last image). Generalic is the most famous painter of so called naive art. I am amazed that in 1973 US art director spotted work of this painting genus from another part of the world.

  • Dean Abatemarco

    Wonderful story Norm, thanks for sharing!

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