Arpi Ermoyan — a longtime Westporter, and a major name in the world of commercial illustration — died last week. She was 99 years old.
Ermoyan was an illustrator, editor at Cosmopolitan in the 1950s and ’60s, worked at Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency, wrote an important book called “Famous American Illustrators,” curated gallery exhibitions of illustration art, and for many years directed the Society of Illustrators. She was one of very few women to break through in that male-dominated field.
In 1953, she and her husband Suren — also a noted illustrator, who served as art director at Good Housekeeping — moved to Tanglewood Lane, off Stony Brook.
She became part of the vaunted Westport Illustrators group — again, one of the few female members.
Illustrators in Westport during this era used each other for models all the time, and Arpi was a favorite….Neighboring illustrators would stop by the house on Tanglewood Lane and before you know it, Arpi had to “put aside her drawing board and start modeling.” Several great illustrators of the era were inspired by her striking good looks and painted her into their illustrations.
In 1961, the Ermoyans moved from Westport. They sold their house to another, younger illustrator.
“Mad Men” is a great way to experience the ad world — and, thanks in part to that world, the changing America — of the 1960s.
Miller Pope doesn’t have to watch a TV show about long-ago Madison Avenue. He was there.
A partner in a New York ad agency — and the youngest member elected to the Society of Illustrators — Pope was one of the many “Mad Men” who moved to Westport in the 1950s and ’60s. Their friendships — on the train, in New York and here in town — along with their hard drinking, sometimes scandalous social lives and civic contributions — gave Westport a unique reputation that remained for years, long after Madison Avenue lost its luster.
Though many illustrators already lived here when Pope and his wife Helen went house-hunting, he was warned about “the Italians.” The Italians he knew were people like Michelangelo and da Vinci, and the ones he met in Westport turned out to among his best friends.
The Westport Artists club was “almost on a par” with the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Club in New York. And “famous illustrators, novelists, TV personalities, movie actors, playwrights, industrial designers and ad men practically crawled out of the woodwork.”
Local folks served as models for Pope’s drawings. His postman, he wrote, “probably appeared in more magazines than many movie stars.”
Pope forgets little from those days.
There was a bar car on one of the late afternoon trains from NY. I tried to make it whenever I could because it was a rolling cocktail party. Usually I had so much fun it was a disappointment when I reached my destination.
Often the contents of this mobile party spilled out of the merry capsule into Marrio’s [sic], a restaurant and bar which had the good fortune to be located just across the narrow street from the little Saugatuck Railroad station. Marrio must have been a happy man because his bar had eager customers fighting to get up to his bar and thrust cash into his paws.
It is a wonder that those of us from those heady days of the past survived. It seems that the consumption of alcohol was truly oceanic. It was not unusual for the ad people I frequently entertained to consume 2 or 3 martinis at lunch and then go back to work.
Of course, Mario’s (correct spelling) was not the only place Pope and his wife drank.
Helen and I had a lot of parties, and it was not too unusual for some of our guests to still be there when the sun came up. We worked hard and played hard.
A Miller Pope illustration -- probably using Westport models.
Pope helped create Publisher’s Graphics, a business that centralized paste-up, photostats, typesetting, transparency-stripping and other mechanical work under one roof. It soon moved from an old icehouse to a converted factory on Riverside Avenue.
The location was perfect. Clients rolled off the train (and past Mario’s) to the book-producing factory. “And if that was not good enough,” Pope writes, “there were several excellent restaurants and bars right next door.”
As with any problem he’d faced in advertising, creativity was key. One project involved photographs of kids playing. He used local boys and girls, but the client did not want white children only. “I sent a couple of my guys over to Norwalk to hire a few minority kids,” Pope says.
In 1975, the Popes left Westport for North Carolina. They established beach and golf resort communities. He became a major force in publicizing the area — and remains active today — using, no doubt, the professional (and social) skills he honed back when “Mad Men” ruled the world.
Or at least Westport.
(For information on this and other books by Pope, click here.)
A typical ad from the 1960s envisioned the future.
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