Otis and Dorothy Shepard were the original ad-man and ad-woman design powerhouse of the 1930s. This dynamic duo brought a unique American aesthetic to European modernism while reshaping both design and advertising norms. During the 1930s, they were responsible for developing a holistic design aesthetic for Catalina Island under the sponsorship of PK Wrigley.
Designer Otis Shepard, or Shep as he was called, was born in 1894 in Smallville, Kansas. He left home at the young age of 12, when he traveled to El Paso, Texas, finding work as an errand boy at an engraver’s shop. The young nomad continued on to California to live with an uncle who owned a vineyard in Napa Valley – but the life of a vintner wasn’t for him. He relocated to San Francisco less than a year later where he found work drawing cartoons for the San Francisco Tribune under the guidance of Bud Fisher of Mutt & Jeff cartoon fame. At some point shortly thereafter, he apprenticed with an area lithographer, and by 1912 was able to hang out a shingle of his own. He signed on with the outdoor advertising firm Foster & Kleiser in 1917, where he spent a year before heading off to war.