Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105professions suggested by his father. The boy was smart enough to realise that, if he wanted to become an architect, he would have to get there on his own steam. Disregarding gentle ragging from friends and family, he set up a ‘designing’ business in his home town, Wanganui, North Island. Over the door of his shop hung a sign, Douglas B. Snelling, Designer. This appears today on his furniture. For a moderate fee, he offered to design anything from a pin box to an office building. He worked night and day over his drawing board and, recalling these early years, says proudly that not one of his Wanganui customers was dissatisfied. By the time he was 18, he had saved enough money to go to America. While People reported that he had saved enough money to go to America by the time he was 18, Wises Directory still places him in Wanganui during 1936 and 1937—as a signwriter at 105 Gugton Street. Newspapers report his departure for the United States in mid– 1937, when he was 21. This journey marked his second key transition, from a provincial family childhood to his cosmopolitan adult life. Already he was becoming successful enough to attract admiration from associates and staff at his old schools. In the family–held scrapbook, there is a short report (dated ‘about 1932’) of him returning to Hamilton East Primary School to speak to ‘150 senior pupils ... about modern ideas in planning and executing posters’. It was noted that ‘his address to the children was followed with keen interest’. In September 1937, he also lectured on ‘the art of display and showcard writing’ in a business course offered by the Wanganui YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association). Despite his short stay at Hamilton Boys’ High School, his later progress was noted in the old boys’ sections of the school annuals for the late 1930s. In December 1936, it was mentioned that he had a signwriting studio in Wanganui. In December 1938, he had ‘made a name for himself in commercial art and is now in California.’ And in December 1939: ‘D. Snelling, who had a varied and most interesting career in America, is now publicity manager for Warner Bros, the film people.’ Already the principal of a profitable business (during the unlikely period of the Great Depression), he had no intention to continue his career in Wanganui. He had grown up in at least seven homes in different towns of England, New Zealand and perhaps Equador—so was not burdened by childhood roots. This provincial city (of then only 28,000 citizens) was too small and unsophisticated to sustain his curiosity and artistic, entrepreneurial, sporting and social abilities. Snelling’s adolescent impulses to design posters for cinemas indicate that he was strongly attracted to the movies. For a teenager History and French. This workload would have allowed him generous time for various commercial art projects. In 1933, he was taking six hours a week of evening art classes. By this time, Snelling’s artistic abilities included dramatic colour juxtapositions, adventurous typography on signs and posters, sketching cartoon likenesses of people and creating exotic three–dimensional displays. From a newspaper report in the family scrapbook, he also was adept at the then–unconventional medium of pastels. During 1932 or 1933, Snelling began working as a designer—first tackling small poster design and visual merchandising projects at home, with local shops and cinemas as clients. In a mid–1937 article noting the imminent departure of Snelling for a job (which never crystallised) in New York, the unnamed Wanganui correspondent for New Zealand Free Lance praised Snelling’s artistic and entrepreneurial abilities: To see his posters, you would hardly believe that he hasn’t had a lesson in his life; but from a small boy he lived with a pencil between his fingers. From a mere hobby, starting four years ago doing posters for the picture theatres, he now employs two other lads and they are all as busy as bees. ... In the summer, he and his boys got a great kick out of designing a stunning ‘float’ which was entered in the carnival procession. The whole thing was done in lemon yellow, orange and black, with glitter green, white and silver finish. Snelling also saw opportunities to exploit the antipodean popularity of the British monarchy. For example, he sold posters and town decorations for the 1934 Wanganui visit of Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester (third son of King George V), who had arrived in NZ to open a session of Parliament in Wellington. New Zealand Free Lance explained that although he ‘missed a golden opportunity’ to design decorative signs for King George’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, he built some spectacular displays for the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1936. So excellent were they that orders poured in and he had to employ a carpenter to build the structural displays. One store ordered replicas of the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre, which helped win for it a first prize in the Coronation window dressing competition. Already, the young artist was developing bold ambitions to go much further as a designer—indicated by these recollections given to his People profilist in 1950: When he matriculated at 17, he told his parents he had decided to become a great architect. They received this intelligence with the kind of detached interest normal parents show in a kid’s ambition to be a great film star. But young Douglas was obdurate, refusing to take any interest in the DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 16 17 1916–1937 1916–1937