DAVE CHRISTENSEN graduated with honors from Art Center College of Design in 1973 and a few months later moved from Los Angeles to Danbury, Connecticut with another illustrator and his wife, and their 2 dogs in a U-Haul truck that wouldn’t go over 47 miles an hour.
His friend went through a study program with famous illustrators that lived in the area, while he got up at 6am, 5 days a week and rode the train 2 hours to New York City to look for illustration work. After 7 months of absolutely no interest or results, Dave found a job illustrating in a small Jewish ad agency, and through the owner, acquired an agent. With this good fortune he then moved into New York City, and his agent got him jobs doing ink illustrations for magazines. After that, the agent got him an appointment with Alex Gottfryd at Doubleday book publishers.
Dave worked at the ad agency for about 3 years while doing 150 or so book covers for Doubleday and several other publishers as well as magazines, mostly of the financial type. After being in NY about 2 years, he married Jill Ellsworth who was also from California. Dave was in NY for 4 years but never really adjusted to the environment of East Coast life. What he really wanted to do was work in the movie industry. So with their new baby boy they moved back to LA. He gave an American Airlines baggage handler $30 and they let them put 53 huge packing/moving boxes full of stuff on the plane! You could never do that today.
Dave continued working with publishers in NY for several years and gradually got work at LA agencies, all the while, when time allowed, he tried to build a portfolio that would get him work in the entertainment industry. It took him a few years to do that and a few more of showing his portfolio full of pretend movie posters and celebrity likenesses. Just as in NY, a long period of absolute failure was followed by a sudden stroke of good luck. He couldn’t get a single sketch out of any of the dozens of ad agencies that specialize in movie poster design, but one day Dave showed his portfolio to the most important agency in Hollywood and they hired him full time on the spot.
All of a sudden his income quadrupled! He was in shock for the first year but gradually got used to it. While he was there he mostly did sketches for the ideas for posters that would end up being photography, but occasionally Dave was given a finished poster to illustrate. Probably the two best known examples were “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Major League”. Dave worked there for 5 years and then went back to freelancing around with the various other agencies in Hollywood. He did a few more finished poster artwork like “Rugrats in Paris” and “Casper” and a few others, but mostly sketch work.
He got sick of the LA traffic and their kids had families in Utah so they moved there in 2007. Thanks to the miracle of technology and the Internet Dave has been able to continue working with agencies in Hollywood doing mostly sketching for TV and movie ad campaigns.
A sampling of Dave’s illustrations
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