Recently, a conversation with a long time friend brought up a question… “What ever happened to the Garrett Turbo Chick?” We have to delve back into the past quite a long way for this one. Before careers in software programming, and the commodities futures markets, there was a career as an illustrator, art director and occasionally marketing. There was a career even before that, but that was a time when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.
In the late 70s, when I had left the Generous Mother, General Motors, to pursue “my own thing” I did a lot of freelance artwork and illustration for advertising agencies in Melbourne, Australia. One of my favorite outfits to work for was NormalAir Garrett, the company that made Lear Jets, oxygen systems for military jets and turbochargers. The branch in Aussie was run by a guy named David Inall. Now David was a little crazy, in some good ways, and some not so good. He was pathologically obsessive, a good thing in that industry because he made things happen, often by sheer force of will. Another good thing was that he was often open to ideas. He let people do some crazy stuff. Very experimental. That was also a good thing for me, just the right thing after years with G.M. Holden, where you couldn’t take a piss without the concept being considered by a committee, who would then appoint a subcommittee to research the implications for the design and engineering departments.
I can’t remember now who came up with the idea to produce some posters, might have been me, might have been David, might have even come from somewhere else. You have to remember, this was the dark ages, decades before the internet. In those days getting your name out there was extremely difficult, especially for a small and definitely rogue outfit with almost no advertising budget. Unlike magazine ads which disappeared quickly, if you got a poster up in a speed shop or some teenagers bedroom, it stayed up, delivering your message for months or years.
Bless his little heart, Mr Inall came up with the money for me to take a few weeks and work on this project full time. For an artist in residence, and open ended project like this was the holy grail. All that was required was that is be totally cool, something that young men with racing fuel for blood would want.
So here is the end result. Acrylic on canvas, 30” x 40”. I think the posters were the same size, but had vertical type, “Garrett Turbosystems” along the left hand side. They were hugely popular, the first print run, which I remember as 1000 posters vanished almost instantly. One hot rodder had a copy airbrushed on the hood of his car. For poster art enthusiasts, there is no airbrush on this piece, even though I did a lot of airbrush art around that time. The background was all painted in wet, and some inks were mixed in with the acrylic. It’s just a different style than now, when everything is done on a computer. Call it a blast from the past.