When Allen Kay suggested I become John Klimo's assistant, his rationale was, as he said, "Very few Art Directors can do both." Meaning traditional advertising AND fashion advertising. Maybe that was the case, and by the time I was asked to leave Korey Kay, I was now in fact one of, if not the only, Art Director who could do both. In looking for a new job, in New York City in the mid 1980's, this was actually more of a problem than an advantage. My book was neither one or the other, and nobody was hiring for either. Janou Pakter had just opened her recruitment firm specializing in placing creatives, and after looking at my book and resume, it was my BFA from ArtCenter and the beauty work that proved to be my advantage and something she could work with. In a matter of days, Janou called to tell me that there was an open position as an Art Director for Cosmair, in their Fine Fragrance print promotion department, that she thought I would be perfect for. At that time, Cosmair, a joint venture between L’Oréal and Nestle to launch the French Beauty Group on the North American market, was the most successful cosmetic firm in the United States whose portfolio included Lancome and L'Oréal cosmetics, as well as Vanderbilt, Chaps, and Lauren fragrances. Naively, I took the job as soon as it was offered to me. The woman that had left the job, left the beauty industry completely, and took a job down on Wall Street doing direct mail graphics for American Express, but I never thought to ask why. Between never asking why she left, and the fact that I was hired on the spot, should have been warning signs before they became valuable lessons.
My new boss had an office that was painted dark, kept relatively dark, and was as big as her ego, which in itself was twice her size. She was small in height, but not so much in size, and you always knew when she was coming or going by the clickety-clack of her obsession with white Tic-Tacs. This wanna-be Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada," on one hand wanted me to do everything, and on the other, do nothing. The grunt work and her errands were all mine, but the actual good work, the stuff I'd want for my book, well, all that, she insisted, I send out to her freelancers who had a graphic design studio in their hi-rise apartment on the west side, facing the Hudson River. It didn't take me long to figure out that these guys were getting all the good projects while also making all the good money. I managed to convince Miranda that I could in fact do the work I was originally hired to do, but she still only threw me the bones, and within six months I was outta there. My idea was to emulate those freelancer dudes and go do what they were doing, since they were busy doing what I was supposed to be doing anyway.