Alan Colvin on Frank Cheatham a speech read at the Dallas Society of Visual Communications honoring Cheatham
The first time I saw Frank, he was introducing his mentor and friend, Louis Danziger, to a group of students in a lecture room at Texas Tech University. Frank was gracious and softspoken in his introduction, and clearly had the respect of this legendary designer. It was a couple of years later when Mr. Danziger returned to conduct a work session with our Design Communications class when we heard him tell stories of Frank’s skills as one of the finest students that Art Center ever had.
Frank Cheatham grew up on a South Texas ranch, but moved to Los Angeles to attend Art Center in the late fifties. In LA he met his wife, Jane, a student at Chouinard School of Art (a talented illustrator, artist and teacher in her own right). Frank and Jane made a great team. They were both great teachers, and generously offered opinions, advice and stories, as their home was almost always open to students outside of class.
One story Jane told was about how, in their school days, Frank had these beautiful western shirts from Texas that he would sell to an LA clothing store to get cash so he could buy supplies for art school. That story says a lot about what you should know about Frank-that he was passionate about making art and not interested in wrapping himself in superficial veneer. Frank was transparent-sincere and honest.
Frank had a great deal of success in Los Angeles in the sixties as a designer at the packaging and identity firm of Porter and Goodman. His brilliance was recongnized there and the firm soon changed its name to Porter, Goodman and Cheatham. During the LA years, Frank produced a lot of great work for big, visible brands. The work was strategically smart, highly creative and award winning-a balance not easily achieved in this business.