One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Of all the things that are part of the sea change our world is in, I watched something that has been close to my life die.

Enemy Mine final poster art

Nik Hafermaas (Graphic Design Chair at the Art Center College of Design) had invited participants in the creation of the book OVERSPRAY, Riding High with the Kings of California Airbrush Art written by Norman Hathaway and published by Dan Nadel of PictureBox, Inc. (, to have a discussion on their work with his students. The speakers included artists Dave Willardson, Charles E. White III, Peter Palombi, Peter Lloyd, and myself as the writer of the opening essay and a contributor of photographic impressions of the era of the “Kings of California Airbrush Art,” as the book is subtitled. (

During a break amongst samples of art on display from the book one of these Kings, Peter Palombi, like Thor throwing a lightening bolt, said to me, “There is no more illustrative art. There are only files.”

“There isn’t tangible proof of anyone’s talent and workmanship that is real anymore,” he concluded.

Jurassic Park logo design sketch

Sometime later, Michael Dooley, a principal of Design + Writing and a respected instructor at UCLA, asked if he could bring a class of his on a studio tour to my place for a visit and discussion.

Guy Fery's Dashiell Hammett

I have tangible art that I’ve had created for every job I have ever done. In these “files” are my thinking by hand, rough concept sketches, tighter pencil drawings refining those concepts; comprehensive art that is a bridge between the idea, the sketch and the finished art based on the original idea.

I had nothing in particular to discuss or show to his design class except, possibly, the Eames era furniture I have around the house, but I did have those physical examples of the many years of work-product I’d created; tangible, physical art that predated the “file era,” otherwise known as “the day that art died.” The students, awed and appreciative, leafed through those pieces as if they were relics pulled from a dig site.

There are still great artists but their work today is a described by quantum mechanics as “wavefunction which is a mathematical function providing information about the probability amplitude of position and momentum of a particle.” You can look that up.

On The Road poster, casting sheet signed by Francis Ford Coppola

Some of my art from that period is being sold at PictureBox, Inc. (, ScreenUsed Production Art (, and Heritage Art Galleries (; 2010 October Signature Illustration Art Auction #5038 on October 15).  You can easily peruse the whole list (with links) at the Art4Sale page here on this blog or you can go to my website ( and go to the “Store” page.

Victor Moscoso, Illustration for Chic Magazine

Until then, here is a partial list of some of my personal favorites:

Logo Design Sketch [Jurassic Park]

Final Poster Art [Enemy Mine]

Casting Sheet Signed by Francis Coppola [On The Road]

Guy Fery

* * * * * * * * * * * *


Same with the hand-shaped surfboard…days gone by.  Tim B.

Mike, I can’t believe the coincidence of this. But, these things happen to me all the time. Two days ago, I was wondering what happened to Peter.  I had heard he had gotten very ill a decade or more back.  I googled him but didn’t find much.  I may have misspelled his name. Very poignant, your posting. Best, robert c

Thanks, Robert. Peter’s  up in big bear. Kept all his templates so he can repaint any thing he did. He is ok. Doesn’t drive but his daughter does for him I believe. MS

That visit to your studio was incredibly amazing, Mike. Definitely one of the major highlights of my most recent “Exploring L.A. Design” course (which I conduct every spring, through UCLA Extension). And your workspace did, indeed, blow the minds of my students. Each week, I take them to two different design-related studios. Earlier that morning, we had gone to a Santa Monica motion graphics office, where there was hardly a scrap of paper in sight. And then… Salisbury’s Venice digs! With not a computer in sight!!!Even better. Mike had set out tons of historical artifacts from his wide-ranging career, dating back a half-century, and including the many preliminary pencils. And, as usual, he entranced us with many fascinating stories of his adventurous career.

Both class visits usually take a total of three hours, but we all hung around Mike’s long afterwards, as he shared even more of his life experiences with us, and signed the posters he had generously given to everyone. In my design history classes, I always talk at length about Mike. But the images I project off my computer onto a screen don’t come anywhere near the incredible experience of witnessing these “legendary” design artworks in person.  Thank you again, Mike. You’re the real deal!  Michael Dooley, UCLA

Mike—Peter Palombi? He was just ahead of me with Pat Nagle winning National Scholarships in Art out of Savanna High (Anaheim, CA) 3 years out of 5…Peter was one of the greats, like Nagle, Charlie White III, Willardson, Peter Lloyd–your astute eye helped form a whole generation of the ‘West Coast’ Airbrush school…this saddens me; indeed. Life is Precious and should never be taken for granted. Each Breath is a Miracle of Endless Mystery! GOD Bless You, Peter–and Pat Nagle–and George James (our HS teacher)….and thank you, my mentor, Mike Salisbury–top Creative Director of All Time– for having the sense, the eye, and the talent to see everything before it even happened.  Terry L.

Illustration is not art. Davey Miller

Tell that to Norman Rockwell. MS

It is sad. I’m not sure computers or the internet have helped anything. Especially art. Movies, music and photography have all fallen victim to it. It’s almost too accessible. Too many programs available to create anything but nothing of true artistic merit. Too much noise and shit out there that it’s harder to see the standout talents. Nelson Q.

I agree. Everyone is an expert in their own minds, too.  MS.