Frank Olinsky was the first artist I knew. Check that. Frank was the first person that made me aware that there was such a thing as an artist. He was brillant even then, and remains so today. He’s inspired me since we met when I was four years old, and I’m proud to still be his friend on his birthday today, 50 years later.
Relevant to the subject of these blogs, when I was in the 4th grade, and The Flintstones hit the airwaves like a ton of quarry bricks 20 times more powerful than The Simpsons, Frank started making hand drawn Fred Flintstone sweatshirts. And it dawned on me that actual humans drew the characters, not some mystical, unknowable process.
As we got older, Frank’s the guy who turned me on to all the newest pop music of the day. The Monkees, The Who, Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, you name it, Frank was always there first. So, it was logical that I would turn to him to illustrate and design covers for my first record company, and then again, when I was fortunate enough to have the responsibility to create the look of the fledging MTV. By then Frank was part of a tiny design collective with enormous ideas, Manhattan Design, with two equally talented partners, Patti Rogoff and Pat Gorman, and together they toiled through hundreds of approaches to present to my partner, Alan Goodman, and me. At the last second, the weasels in sales almost killed the most famous design in modern media, but, we turned the tables and mowed ‘em down.
Manhattan Design was a key element in defining the early MTV, and I’m sure the current design director, Jeffrey Keyton, tips his hat every day to their work.
Frank Olinsky gave me my first shot at fandom, but certainly not my last. Frank, have a happy birthday, and thanks for everything you’ve done for me.