I was sad to learn of the death of Art Fitzpatrick a few days before his 97th birthday just before Thanksgiving.

You might not know the name, but if you were alive from 1950 to the early 1970s you probably know his work.

“He’s the guy that drew the Pontiac magazine ads that put the car in exotic places and always looked like they popped out of a James Bond film,” I generally say to people who don’t know his name.

I had the honor of meeting Art a few years back when my name surfaced as someone to help him write a book. I went up to his home in Carlsbad and we sat in his art studio, surrounded by originals, of course, and the tools of the artist, and had a good chat.

He was a wonderful, funny guy who really enjoyed telling stories about the days when he was the toast of the magazine-ad world. He also had a few choice words about the US Postal Service, as this was after the 2005  series of auto-art postage stamps had been issued. Another series was issued in 2008, and I saw him at the signing party for the book he’d issued with longtime pal (and nearby Oceanside resident) Jim Wangers; he had more words for the Postal Service then. But he sure was honored to have his work on stamps.

Like lots of kids, I kept a scrapbook in my elementary school days. Mine was pictures of cars cut out of magazines in the days when magazines were big-time advertising media. Life, Look, Newsweek and others sold millions of copies every week and television hadn’t yet wiped out their mass market. A big chunk of those cutout ad pictures were Art’s.

It’s been my honor to be able to spend the first 15 years of the 21st century writing about cars in exotic places (even if they’re mostly in San Diego County). In another time, I might have written the ad copy for Art’s ads. The words always complimented Art’s art, talking about the wonderful places drivers could visit if they only had a Pontiac, or Studebaker or Kaiser or one of the other brands he drew. Maybe I was reincarnated from a sleazy advertising copywriter who had too many scotch and sodas and drove his new Pontiac off a cliff in late 1958… well, that’s another story.

So Art, have a nice ride.

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