Friday, January 16, 2009

Otis Shepard & the Chicago Cubs

I finally had success tonight searching for illustrations by Otis Shepard. Until now, I've had disappointing results, finding just a small handful of his work. Before I show you what I found, here is a little bit of history that I learned along the way:

Otis Shepard worked for William Wrigley, Jr., the founder of Wrigley's Gum. According to, Shepard became art director of the gum company around the year 1914 and served in that role for 31 years.

According to Wikipedia, Wrigley bought the Chicago Cubs in 1925, and it is for him, of course, that Wrigley Field is named. In addition, Wrigley played a prominent role in the development of Catalina Island, and he often called upon Otis Shepard to illustrate for those ventures as well.

Armed with this little bit of history, and being somewhat aware of what Shepard's work looks like, I stumbled upon, a baseball website that include Cubs scorecards from the 1890's on up through today. From what I can tell, there are samples of Shepard's work from approximately 1937 all the way up through 1962--and maybe even 1969--the year he died. It's a bit difficult for me (I'm no expert) to tell what is actually Shepard's work, since many of the covers do not include his name on the cover. Many of the covers after 1962 do seem to carry on a similar style of Shepard's even until about 1981, so I am sure that the artist(s) who took over for Shepard were doing their best to keep a good thing going.

Here are a few of my favorites:

^Above: You can see Shepard's name on the lower right hand side.

^Above: You can see Shepard's name on the lower right hand side.

If you like this style of illustration, you will want to check out the work of Paul Rogers. I featured him here a few weeks ago.


Cathy Wade Shepard said...

Some of your biographical info is incorrect. Otis Shepard worked for Foster and Kleiser (outdoor advertising) in San Francisco until his wife, Dorothy Shepard was commissioned by Wrigley to go to New York and create what was the world's largest illuminated sign. (1929) Shep worked for the Wm. Wrigley, Jr. Company which included the Cubs, Gum and Catalina Island.

Anonymous said...

I recently bought a series of Chicago cubs programs/scorecards from 1961 to1971 specifically because i love the cover artwork . I noticed that although the covers had no artist name, all of the back covers had S H E P A R D in the upper left corner of the back cover. All of these back covers were the same image of a montage of a smiling guy presenting Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Pabst beer, Hamms beer, Coca cola and Borders ice cream bars so not sure if the name is just for the back cover or for all the covers but as I loom at the set, the back artwork constantly changes to Old Style, Budweiser, and different Bordens ice cream containers. it's my belief that all the covers were Shepard and they were used on a rotating basis until the 70s when the style became more painterly and less graphic.