Archive spanning the 1970s and 1980s of original commercial artwork and design by Detroit artist and graphic designer Jerry Watts, primarily for use in local Detroit television news and related programming.
Very good plus.
Local Detroit Television News Art and Design Archive
Watts was the station artist for Detroit's TV2 television channel beginning in 1970, and also worked as a courtroom artist and composite sketch artist, producing portraits of police suspects and missing persons. A brief biography of Watts by Andrea Ford, then of the Detroit Free Press, is included in enlarged mock-up form, with a black-and-white photo of Watts mounted to verso. Ford's bio also notes Watts's training at the Society of Arts and Crafts, later renamed the Center for Creative studies. "[I]n his spare time Watts plays the African conga drum and writes."
Watts's TV2 work makes up the majority of this collection, and is uniformly bright, eye-catching, generally representational and illustrative or cartoon-like. Other included work showcases his other styles, with three print advertisements, several images in stark paper-cut silhouette, pastel on colored paper, black and white line drawings, and simplified shapes verging towards abstraction. Includes two individual sub-folders of mark-ups, sketches, and other working materials for projects, respectively labeled: "Crime" (with various images of a tied hostage, gunplay, prisoners) and "Face to Face."
The majority of included material was utilized for "squeeze" or topic boxes and other inserts in local broadcasts. Watts's art ranges from full-color broadcast placards executed on art board to black-and-white mockups on onion-skin paper to color art transferred to clear transparency paper. Watts designed artwork to illustrate news stories, provide bumper material in and out of commercial breaks, as well as trying his hand at the station's logo. The largest piece in the archive is a color placard on art board advertising an "Afrikan Cultural Safari" on Oct. 26, 1974 at the Merrill-Palmer Institute (now the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute at Wayne State University).
The news and societal issues for which Watts created illustrations were wide-ranging, as evidenced in the present archive. Watts made illustrations about taxes, kidnappings, recycling, drunk driving, welfare, labor relations, drugs, Middle Eastern issues (including the PLO), prostitution, inflation, and more. Also present are placards for "Somalia Cares" (an exhibit at the Detroit Science Center), a crisis hotline called the "Rap-Line, " tourism, "The Washington Report [with] Norm Wagy, " and the station "Newsbreak, " plus a color-illustrated transparency advertising Black History Month.
A vivid and colorful collection documenting not only the work of an accomplished African-American designer, but the overlap of design and social issues in turbulent 1970s Detroit.
[Detroit]: n.p, [1970-1988]. Two large archival boxes measuring 26'' x 19'' x 2.5'' and 18.5'' x 14.5'' x 3''. Archive of approximately 175 pieces of original artwork and design, many mounted on cardstock/artist's boards or on plastic transparencies. A smaller but substantial number of works on paper loose or partially detached from backing. Includes work in pen and ink, marker, and pastel, along with sketches and materials from projects in process, and a small number of stickers. Sizes range from 2 x 2 to 15 x 20 inches approx. Mild to moderate wear to edges. All materials in very good plus or better condition, with exceptions regarding backing/mounting boards as noted above.
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