Updating the Quaker Oats Man

The current issue of Illustration magazine recounts the story of how the iconic image of the Quaker Oats man was created. Illustrator Robert Bonfils recalls being hired in 1965 to paint an updated version of an earlier one by Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976):

While I was freelancing in Chicago, one of my accounts asked me to make corrections to the work of several famous illustrations before they went back in production. In one particular instance, an agency wanted me to duplicate the Quaker Oats Man. The original art was deteriorating and they wanted a new image to use for future products….I worked only in gouache, casein, and acrylics on illustration board, so I did the whole painting in that medium. I did not touch up on the original by Haddon Sundblom. I am pleasantly surprised and honored to be his copyist.”
The logo had other incarnations, both earlier and later than the one by Sundblom / Bonfils.


According to Neatorama:
“The original 1877 Quaker Man was a full-length picture of a Quaker holding a scroll with the word ‘pure’ on it (just in case the integrity/honesty/purity point didn’t get across). In 1946, graphic designer Jim Nash created a black and white head portrait of the smiling Quaker Man and in 1957, Haddon Sundblom made the full-color portrait. The last update to the logo was in 1972, when Saul Bass created the stylized graphic that still appears on Quaker Oats product packages today.”

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