Seeing Our Greatest President In Almost Living Color

Time magazine commissioned an artist to colorize a few classic images from the National Archive of our 16th President. Swedish artist Sanna Dullaway used Photoshop first to clean up any blemishes on Lincoln’s image and then to add realistic color. The effect is hypnotic and engrossing–this extraordinary leader seems suddenly…tangible.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, Olson

What’s particularly interesting is that Sanna is twenty two.  She’s been at this for less than two years, getting her start by posting her colorized version Malcolm Browne’s heartbreaking burning monk image from the Vietnam War: an image she found on Rage Against The Machine’s debut album.  That piece went viral, as have many others since.

But what’s really interesting is that you can commission her as well.  As her website reads:  “Using state-of-the-art technology and artistic talent, I will turn your black and white memories into vivid colour. Since each photo is unique and have a great emotional value it would be a perfect gift to a family member or friend.”

Unfortunately, that was before last week.  Once the Time story broke, jobs poured in.  As she puts it on a website update on pricing: “I’m afraid I do not have the time to colourize private photos for the time being – I am currently too busy with commercial projects. Please check back again in a couple of weeks!”

She clearly knows how the web works. Supply and demand and all that.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

With Thanks To Mr. Lincoln This Presidents’ Day

While hysterical anti-government types love to scream about the supposed sins of our sixteenth president (“He suspended habeus corpus!” “He tried to assassinate Jeff Davis!”  “He looked really tall in hats!”), I have no patience for that.  It is an admittedly dangerous business lionizing politicians or athletes or actors or pretty much any human being, but in my book, President Lincoln’s about as close to a true hero as people come.

Think about all he did and the horrific circumstances surrounding those triumphs.  No, most of us will never be in a position to establish the first paper currency, charter the first transcontinental railroad, proclaim emancipation or anything like that, but still: put yourself in his shoes and realize what that tall skinny farmer’s son accomplished through one of the darkest, most hate-filled periods of American history…

Ever bummed out by a setback? Lincoln lost not one but two separate runs for Senate.  When he finally earned the Presidency, he did so with only 39.8% of the popular vote and no support from a single Southern state.  In fact, they started seceding immediately after the election.

Ever have tough times at work? Abe’s workplace was at war…with itself.  That’s like an agency where the account people and the creatives argue with guns, knives and bombs.  This trouble isn’t happening between you and your competitors, it’s happening internally, right here at home.  What B-school degree prepares you for that?

Ever have to work with someone who publicly smacked you? Fighting to preserve the Union was heinous enough–but forgiving to preserve it was the true test of character.  When hostilities finally ended with the Surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln freed all 18,000 rebels who were arrested, save for one who was exiled. He openly and repeatedly encouraged Southerners to lay down their arms and join in the reunion.  Fighting can come easily, but forgiving is truly tough.

If you can make the time for it, read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.” It’s not exactly a beach read, but it is a deeply insightful and exhaustingly comprehensive glimpse of an extraordinary person struggling and succeeding mightily through extraordinary times.

Actually, that last part isn’t really true–if popular assessment is the measure, Lincoln didn’t achieve mightily in his lifetime.  But eventually he did.  So much so that 100 years after Congress declared Washington’s Birthday a Federal Holiday, a push from a group of American business spurred it to evolve into “President’s Day” specifically so it would include President Lincoln.

The business group behind this?  Advertisers.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79