“Pop! Goes the Artist”

Burton Morris is featured in an article in Carnegie Mellon Today, CMU’s alumni magazine, about the release of his book ‘Pop!’.

Long before he made his mark on the Academy Awards in Hollywood, well before he illustrated the summer Olympic Games in Athens, two decades before he brought to life the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, and 21 years before he released Pop!, a coffee-table book featuring a retrospective of his artwork, Burton Morris thought he’d hit it big.

It was 1986, and he was graduating from Carnegie Mellon with degrees in illustration and graphic design; more importantly, he had a received a job offer with a big title. He would become the art director for a major Pittsburgh-based advertising firm. Soon he was art directing TV commercials for McDonald’s foods and Tasters Choice coffees and winning ADDY Awards, the industry’s most prestigious recognition.

But he found that the job entailed hiring illustrators rather than doing the creative work himself. After two and a half years, he decided to end the frustration. He quit to become art director at a smaller Pittsburgh agency. There, he planned to bring in new accounts and be the illustrator. Six months into his new job, he was working diligently to find clients, something not typically expected from an art director. The president of the firm pulled him aside. “Things don’t happen overnight,” he told Morris. “If you keep this up, you’re never going to make it in this business.”