Oklahoma Legacy

ARTDusty GilpinComment

On the 'History' page of this site there are brief descriptions about the owners and employees of Tree & Leaf. In my description, it labels me as the 'third generation in a family of commercial artists'. This statement has been a defining element of my life since I could hold a pencil, and I even recall telling my kindergarden peers that I was going to grow up to be a 'grapic designer.' My grandfather and father were both graphic designers, and this leaf didn't fall to far from the tree.

My grandfather, Dick Gilpin, started Graphic Art Center with a gentleman named Bob Jacobsen in 1954. My father, Greg Gilpin, began working with him after high school, and to this day still carries the family business. It was great growing up around a small design firm. Some of my earliest art practice came because I was an annoying little kid. If I was pestering my grandad or dad too much, I would get sat down in front of the "art-o-graph" and trace cartoons and illustrations from clip art books. Sadly, my grandfather passed away at his studio in 1989 when I was only 4. My memories of him are few and cloudy, but what I do remember I'll always cherish. As a commercial artist, his work was often created and then passed down the line to the client or advertising agency and rarely returned. He didn't have a portfolio and few original works remained in the family. As I get older, my desire to retrace his steps and archive his legacy have increased. Luckily, over the last few years, my father and I have collectively retrieved a small portion of his work and family illustrations. He is remembered for his wit and humor, which was well illustrated through his work and jovial cards and notes given to his wife, friends, and family members.

Some of his more notable commercial works were illustrations for Oklahoma State University. His renderings of Pistol Pete and subject illustrations for textbooks can still be found around the OSU campus, but a majority of the work has not been documented or archived until recently. To our extreme luck, we recently fell across an OSU memorabilia collector named Doug Shivers. His incredible generosity and willingness to scan and photograph some of my grandfather's work has more than doubled my existing collection. The collection is increasing as friends and family continue to find and document his works. I can't thank them enough for helping me revitalize his portfolio. Here are a few of the images, but a larger collection can be found here.

Family history plays a large roll in our business at Tree & Leaf. Staying true to our roots and remembering our heritage reminds us of the work that was put in to get us where we are now. It all directly affects who we are today and where our business will be in the future. I'm humbled and proud of the traditions in my family, and hope that you see the desire to honor that artistic integrity in the work we produce today. See the more extensive collection of Dick Gilpin's work here.