Amil Gargano - Creative Hall of Fame


I’m not going to start out by telling you Amil’s a great Art Director. You already know that. What I am going to tell you is – Amil wasn’t born that way. I think it’s important for all of you aspiring young art directors out there to know that. Amil went through every stage every maturing art director goes through. This I know. I went through them with him, as his writing partner. For 15 incredible years.

First, there was the Look Ma, I’m in advertising stage.

This happened back in ’59. Our only excuse was, we were younger then and didn’t know any better.

The Abstract Stage.

Or, if I know what I mean, everyone else must know what I mean.

Then came the discovery of type stage.

Every art director goes through a love affair with type. Many never outgrow it. Amil, with his great talent, outgrew it in one ad.

And finally, and hopefully,

The Art Director grows up stage.

This is where it all comes together for Amil, where he started breaking silly rules. This happened at Cambell-Ewald in New York, where Carl, Amil and I first met. Then when we got Carl Ally, Inc. going in 1962, Amil broke some more silly rules.

He didn’t put a pretty girl in a car ad.

He didn’t even put a pretty car in a car ad. That was Carl’s Volvo at the time. Then he made an unfortunate world series bet – and it was mine. The important thing is that headline came out of a piece of body copy I was writing. I didn’t know what to do with it. Carl didn’t know what to do with it. But Amil sure knew what to do with it. And Volvo was on its way to becoming known as a tough durable car that goes like hell and lasts forever.

So how do you summarize an Art Director like Amil?

  • He doesn’t work with pictures, he works with ideas.
  • He can give lessons in misspelling. But he can also give lessons in writing. In fact, Amil wrote some of the best headlines I ever got credit for.
  • Like all great art directors, he doesn’t leave fingerprints. You can’t identify his work from ad to ad. He tailors his talent to the product. Not the product to his talent.
  • He simply refuses to do work he has to make excuses for.
  • And the real test. He’s as good in print as he is in TV. And he’s as good in TV as he is in print.