. Friday, September 22, 2006
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HERE is a young man who has never had time to practice what he preaches. He is anything but retired - in fact, he has been inordinately busy since 3 o'clock one morning in the year 1907 .Burr Giffin, an agency art director, (according to James L. Collings in the March 29, 1947 issue of Editor & Publisher) who frequently did work for the Fisk Tire Company was stirring at that early hour because he had an idea and the urge to do something about it.

He sat down on his bed and made a rapid sketch of a small boy with his right arm encircling a tire and his left hand holding a candle. Then he gave his work a title "Time to Retire."

The next morning he showed the sketch to his boss who thought it good enough to present to Fisk. Fisk in turn liked it so much that a poster ad was immediately whipped into shape. Thus, one of the most human, most famous trade marks in America started its long and illustrious advertising career.

An interesting sidelight is that Edward Egleston, an artist whose son was rumored to be the first model, made the first painting in oil in 1916. Through the years, however, that original painting was spoiled by too many retouchings.

In 1939 when the U. S. Rubber Company acquired Fisk they found among the drawings and paintings an oil of the Fisk boy of apparently indifferent quality.

The new management sent the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to be restored - a process that revealed many layers of retouching which probably represented the over-the-years opinions of various engravers and lithographers as to where lights and shadows should fall and how color could be improved.

After the final restoration it was found that each change had been far from an improvement because the original was a completely charming picture.

The Fisk boy has had many millions of advertising dollars invested in him. He is kept up to date by employing different models each year in essentially the same pose. Recently he was animated and given lines, but essentially the original idea remains intact.