The wonderful art of Mr. Sundblom


© 2012 Blaine Martin

Much overlooked as "fine art" until the 1990's,  advertising art has became very popular over the last few years and the advertising illustrators from the first half of the 20th century are very respected today.

On the current market Haddon Sundblom paintings regularly sell in excess of $150,000 each.

Haddon Hubbard Sundblom was born in 1899 in Muskegon, Michigan and his family moved to moved to Chicago in 1912. At age 21 he became an office boy office boy at Charles Everett Johnson Studios in Chicago. It was during his work there there that he decided to become an illustrator.

Sundblom and two close friends soon started their own advertising agency and began doing work for Coca-Cola, Maxwell House, Cream of Wheat, Palmolive, Nabisco and Goodyear. Over time he would add several large automobile companies and Quaker Oats as clients.

His raw talent and mastery of color soon made him highly regarded among his peers and he became what many consider to be the greatest advertising illustrator of all time.

Perhaps Sundblom is best known for the creation of our modern image of Santa Claus. Before Sundblom the Santa's (or Father Christmas) of Victorian times were often much thinner and less jovial looking and were often clad green, purple or even brown outfits.

"Sunny" changed all that in 1931 when he painted his first jolly and rotund Santa for Coca-Cola holiday advertising. Between 1931 and his death in 1976, he would go on to make more than forty oil paintings of St. Nicholas for The Coca-Cola Company.

Creating paintings for multitudes of magazine ads, posters and billboards, he became the Company's most prolific artist.

He is also known by Coca-Cola many collectors as the person who created the famous Sprite Boy character that was used extensively during the 1940's and 1950's.