Dynamic Graphics
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Written by Rick Archer
First Draft: October 2004
Updated: February 2009

Dynamic Graphics is a company that shows little regard for its customers or its finest artist.  Learn how $45,000 Worth of Business and 20 Years of Loyalty mean nothing to these corporate geniuses. 


In November 1984 I received my first issue of Clipper, a magazine of Clip Art. Clipper was the property of Dynamic Graphics, a commercial art service headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. 

My first Clipper issue did not have many useable pictures, but one picture did catch my eye. The silly little Valentine picture on the right started a love affair I had with a nameless, faceless Dynamic Graphics artist that lasted nineteen years.  I used this Valentine picture in a Poster I created to advertise an upcoming 1985 Valentines Dance Party.  To paraphrase Bogie, it was the start of a great friendship

Over the next few years I developed a rapport with a woman named Marilyn Jennings who was a customer service representative at Dynamic Graphics.  I asked her about the artist every time we spoke, but was gently rebuffed.  I discovered Marilyn was sworn to secrecy.  Curious, I pressed a little bit.

Marilyn revealed  that the company was super-paranoid about revealing his identity. Apparently this particular artist was so gifted DG was afraid another company would steal him away or customers would contact him to create original artwork and bypass DG completely. 

I told Marilyn how upset I was not to learn more about him since I admired his artwork greatly. Marilyn did not bend on the name issue, but she was sympathetic.  She made me an offer.  Marilyn promised to research all the back issues of Clipper magazine and find his previous work for me.  I immediately added dozen of exquisite archived drawings to my growing collection.

Of course I paid a pretty penny for each picture, but I didn't mind.  To me, each picture was worth the price.  The picture here on the left was one I purchased from a previous issue thanks to Marilyn's research.  (A copy of the picture on the left hangs on the wall at my dance studio in Room 4.)

One day Marilyn relented a little.  She literally whispered over the phone in great confidence that his name was "Chris".  She added that she believed Chris worked out of Chicago.  And that was all she wrote.  Marilyn said she could lose her job just for revealing that much!  In nineteen years, that's all I ever learned about the artist named Chris from Chicago. 

Marilyn has been retired now for several years. I think "Chris" is retired too so I feel comfortable writing a story about both of them.  

My dance students definitely recognize his style.  That is because they see his work every day.  I have enlarged copies of his pictures hanging all over my studio!!   If you are one of my SSQQ dance students, now you know where all those amazing pictures at the studio came from. 

I wasn't happy about it, but I accepted the position on Chris that Dynamic Graphics took.  Maybe they were justified in worrying that someone would cut them out of the middle and commission artwork from Chris directly. As long as I got a couple Chris pictures in every issue, I didn't mind paying the $40 or $50 charge.

Then I discovered there were more Chris pictures in another magazine published by Dynamic Graphics called "PMS". This absurd title was short for "Print Media Services". I wonder if their staff was aware the readers might think it stood for something else. I certainly got my fair share of laughs out of the name!

I couldn't bear the thought of missing a single Chris picture so I started to subscribe to PMS as well as Clipper each month. Now Dynamic Graphics was sending me two issues a month to the tune of over $100.  I didn't care.  I was happy to get the extra Chris artwork! 

Each issue had one entire page devoted to photography.  This was wasted space in my opinion.  Dynamic Graphics usually put 4 photos to a page.  I never used a single one.  I just wanted the artwork!   The photography was a nuisance, but since it was only one page per issue, I decided to ignore it.

Once a year Dynamic Graphics would send out a questionnaire asking me to rate their service and offer my opinions.  Every year I would say, "cut the photography and stick to your strength which is artwork." 

After all "Graphics" is "Artwork".  Anybody can snap a photograph, but it takes tremendous skill to draw pictures of the quality you see here in the examples.  So far every picture on this web page has been a "Chris" drawing.   Just look at them and decide for yourself.  His work is so gifted it takes my breath away!! 

Furthermore, Chris had some good company.  A lot of the other Dynamic Graphics artwork was valuable to me as well.  I attacked every new issue like it buried treasure.  I really loved Dynamic Graphics artwork 

But why didn't the company ever bother to respond to my comments?  I must have written comments once a year for ten years, but never got even an acknowledgement.  One year I even described the artwork drawn by Chris and begged them to offer more of his pictures.  Another year I suggested publicizing the names of their artists and adding a brief bio.  No response.  All I know is that in my own business I respond to every inquiry made.  I may not write a novel each time, but I answer every question my customers ask me or comment on their suggestions.  Dynamic Graphics simply sent out questionnaires.  So much for the personal touch.  Oh well.

In 1996, my studio was running pretty low on funds.  At the very end of the year we paid off every bill we had.  The good news is we were debt-free.  The bad news was there was $300 left in the bank.  Social Dancing had hit a lull and we were barely breaking even.  I decided to cancel half my subscription.  I no longer received PMS.  Fortunately along came Swing Dancing in 1997.  Salsa followed right after.  Once our coffers were soon restored, I reinstated my PMS subscription after a two-year break.  To this day I still wonder what Chris pictures I missed during that hiatus. 

Around 1998, several developments occurred with Dynamic Graphics. First they offered me a third Art service known as Designers Club at a discount. I didn't care for the test issue much, but the discount made it seem worth a gamble. 

The more important development came when DG began to offer their artwork on CDs as well as in magazine form.  One feature of this new CD format meant the pictures would come in color as well as black and white. 
COLOR!!  I drooled at the thought of getting color!!  Now I began to receive Chris' marvelous artwork with color added!!  Wow!  I was pretty excited!   This guy was so brilliant!

I liked this CD format.  These digital pictures paid off immediately.  When I established the SSQQ web site in 1998, the artwork helped my site become an instant success.  SSQQdotcom helped my dance studio expand its business dramatically.  It was very easy to transfer the DG artwork onto my website.  The Internet turned out to be a remarkable business tool.  Today the SSQQ web site is one of the most famous "dance studio" web sites in the world according to Google.  I have to believe that the DG artwork has played a major role in its success.  Over the years, I have received a tremendous amount of praise for the artwork I use.  Thank you, Dynamic Graphics.


In my life, I can say without hesitation that No Artist has ever captured the beauty of dance better than Chris. 

His ability to draw a picture of people dancing Ballroom is totally without parallel.  No one has ever done it better.  What do you think of that Tango picture in the lower right corner?  Pretty amazing, huh.  You might be surprised that I consider the Tango picture only the second best Chris Dance Picture.

The winner is the picture in blue on the right.  That is my favorite dance picture of all time.  In Ballroom Dancing, that position is known as "Cuddles".  When I first saw this Cuddles picture, I marveled at the precision of the artist.  My goodness, he had the feet down, the hands down, the symmetry down, he had everything just right.  I couldn't help but wonder how an artist could ever capture Ballroom dancing like Chris had.  How did he know to get those toes pointed out so precisely?  How did he get those hands positioned so gracefully?   And that dress!  Such an imagination to capture motion using a swirling dress!    This picture was too good to be true.  Without a doubt, this image was simply the BEST DANCE PICTURE I have ever seen.  


Then one day I saw a publicity photo of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from the movie "The Barkleys of Broadway".   I did a quick double-take.  Gee, that picture looks familiar.  Where have I seen this picture before?  And then in a flash I had my answer.  Chris had pulled a fast one on me!  He was able to nail his Cuddles Picture by using the two best Ballroom Dancers in the world as his models!   Good choice of dancers, Chris!

I just smiled.  I actually felt better knowing there was a good explanation how on earth Chris had managed to capture the "perfection" of dance.  If anything, my respect for Chris increased.  He definitely knew how to recognize a good dance picture when he saw one! Chris had chosen the perfect couple to copy.

The comparison convinced me that when it came to capturing people's imagination, the Blue Picture would actually work better than the Fred and Ginger picture.  I could visualize myself as the Blue Couple, but I could not see myself in the realistic picture.  That's not me, that's Fred!



Although the studio nearly went broke in the mid-Nineties, the fever generated by Swing Dancing in the late Nineties solved that problem nicely.

Thanks to movies like Swing Kids and Swingers plus the famous Gap Jeans Commercial, Swing Dancing became the biggest dance phenomenon in America since Saturday Night Fever

The Swing excitement brought students to us left and right.  Our dance classes were packed and we made money hand over fist. By the end of 1999, we had made enough money to purchase marvelous wood floors for the entire studio.  Naturally I wanted the entire studio to look as good as our floors, so I decided to share "Chris" with my entire studio.

I carefully went through every Dynamic Graphics catalogue and selected thirty of my favorite pictures.  Believe me, it was difficult to decide which ones to choose and which ones to leave out.

I had the pictures enlarged and mounted on corkboard.  With so many wonderful "Chris" pictures on the wall, the compliments came raining in.  As you can see in the photograph, the Chris picture we call The Titanic serves as a backdrop for my lovely Latin instructor Angelina and her friend Victoria.


By 1999, I had collected an entire album of Chris pictures.  I had to have some way to sort them.  That was easy... every Chris picture I put on my computer hard drive had a code name: Beautiful.  The quality of his artwork simply took my breath away. 

If Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Beauty, ever needed a portrait done, I would recommend her to go see Chris.  His ability to draw beautiful women was so exquisite!!  I made an absolute fool of myself drooling over pictures like this Beach Goddess.  His work made me wonder how it is possible to make women look more beautiful in a painting than in a real photograph.

Speaking of photographs, a
bout the same time that DG began offering its artwork on CDs (1998),  Dynamic Graphics also started pushing its photography branch.  Calling this division Creatas, offer after offer came rolling in for me to purchase exciting photographs.  Ho hum.  Spare me.  All I did was yawn.  This company really didn't get it.  I originally signed up with DG for ARTWORKI was paying them to give me something I could not create myself.

I already knew how to take a stupid photograph.  Practically any moron could do that including me.  If I wanted a photograph, I had a camera.  I could take a photo all by myself.  And if it didn't turn out like I wanted, I could take another photograph.   

But I could not draw a picture by myself!
    And I sure as heck couldn't draw magic pictures like Chris could!

Meanwhile Dynamic Graphics continued to send these huge 100-page photo catalogues at no charge.  Those catalogues had hundreds and hundreds of photographs.  I estimated the cost of those free catalogues around $5-10 per copy to print.  Creatas must have spent a fortune to manufacture and mail these catalogues.  That was a very expensive promotion.  I assumed they sent me these free catalogues to drum up interest buying photography.  Guess what.  It didn't work.  I didn't care.  I would glance through each catalogue, roll my eyes in disgust, and throw it away.  Totally useless.  

I would pay for artwork.  In fact, I would pay good money for artwork.  But I was disgusted at thought of paying for photos.  I had no need for their photos.  You want to make more money?  Then give me more Chris!!! 

I could not help but wonder - What marketing genius was behind the decision to move to Photography?  I figured they were testing the market.  Sure enough, those expensive free catalogues were a precursor.  One day there was an ominous development.  With my November 2000 Clipper CD came a big yellow sticker proclaiming "Now includes 20 Royalty Free Stock Photos Each Month!

Free? Says Who?  I got a bill for that issue!  I was paying good money for these photographs and I didn't like it.  Heck, I threw them away when they were free.  And now that I was paying for them, I was still convinced they were useless.  oh happyhappyjoyjoy!  The usual 4 Photographs per issue had expanded to 20.   I also noticed there were FEWER GRAPHICS in the November 2000 CD.  These stupid people at DG had used photographs to replaced some of the artwork.  This was NOT a good development. 

The photo of the glasses pictured on the left is one of the photographs from a DG issue I was forced to pay for.  If I needed a picture of glasses, don't you imagine my digital camera could do the job at NO CHARGE?  Why was I being forced  to pay someone else to take these random pictures?   These photographs were completely worthless to me. 

Dynamic Graphics never bothered to explain the thinking behind its decision. They did not explain why they expected people like me to pay for a series of random photographs of mundane things like glasses and the whatnot. 
Now if I wanted to sell glasses, in my opinion, Artwork would make it easier for a potential customer to imagine the person in the picture might be himself or herself. 

If I wanted to get your attention on 'glasses', I would rather use Dynamic Graphics ARTWORK!!  


Apparently the photography decision was irreversible.  It was now 2000. In each issue, Dynamic Graphics offered fewer pictures and more photos.  I didn't like this change one bit.  I hated being charged for a bunch of photographs that had absolutely no relation to my business.

All the while DG was sending me three CDs a month: Clipper, PMS, and Designers Club. I believe the monthly bill was around $160. 

Even more irritating was the decrease in Chris pictures in each issue. Plus the Designers Club material was practically useless.  Since my dance studio was doing okay financially, I went along with the slow erosion of value in the product, but I wasn't happy about it at all.

Give me more Chris pictures per issue and cut out the photography nonsense. 

Dynamic Graphics started as an art service.  Why not stick to what you are good at?   If the service wanted to expand its product, okay, I can understand that, but why force the decision down the throats of its customers?  As they say, "Dance with the one who brung you."  In other words, why go out of your way to alienate customers who had signed up for Illustrations, not Photography.   At least have the sense to make the photography optional, not mandatory.   I just shook my head in disgust.

There was one development that I did approve of - I loved the new color!  Wow!  There were so many beautiful Dynamic Graphic pictures that were so wonderful I wished I could make a Jigsaw Puzzle out of them.  The color made these pictures even more special.  I beamed as the color pictures worked perfectly with the Internet.  Dynamic Graphics had hit this one out of the ballpark. 

Thanks to DG and color, my dance studio web site was getting prettier all the time!!  In 2000, Swing Dancing was exploding across the country.  One day the perfect dance picture showed up.  There goes Chris again creating an incredible dance picture for me.  Just imagine how effective this Chris image of Swing Dancers was for promoting a Swing Dance Party at my studio!! 

Nobody could draw dance artwork like Chris could!  This guy was a genius. How many times have I said that?  Are you convinced yet?

This Chris dance artwork was powerful stuff indeed!

By the year 2000, my art collection  had become vast.  Sixteen years of collecting Dynamic Graphics artwork meant that I had several pictures to choose from for practically any situation including lots of Halloween Chris pictures like the one on the right.  I received many compliments on my use of artwork on the web site. 

I told anyone who asked about those awesome graphics that accompanied my stories that I owed my success to Dynamic Graphics.  The dance studio had spent thousands of dollars, but I considered it money well spent. 

My SSQQ.com website was incredibly popular.  From the low spot of 1995, by 2000 my business had doubled thanks to the Internet.  My studio's success was a shining example of how Dynamic Graphics artwork used the right way could dramatically expand a business.

January 2003: Liquid Library, the Beginning of the End

I paid good money for
this picture of cherries

I paid money for
this picture of a baby

The Fat Guy Hiking

I paid good money for this picture too.  Cute dog, but not cute enough to pay money for unless its my dog!

I was grateful indeed for the Illustrations I had purchased.  Let me add that over the years Dynamics Graphics has done well by me as well. By the end of 2008, I estimate my dance studio had sent this company somewhere around $45,000.

Do the math: $150 a month times 12 is $1,800.  Twenty-five years times $1,800 equals $45,000.

Yes, Dynamic Graphics had probably paid a few bills along the way with our checks.  That didn't bother me a bit.   I never begrudged them one cent until the Photograph Era began. Being forced to pay good money for photos of cherries started to poison my attitude.

I am sorry to say, but as we began the new Millennium, something unfortunate was going on over at Dynamic Graphics.  I had absolutely no idea why or what, but Dynamic Graphics seemed to be going downhill.  I really missed the good old days of the Eighties and Nineties.

January 2003 marked a fateful moment.  I received an announcement that Clipper and Designers Club were being phased out and replaced by a new service known as Liquid Library

I would still be getting two CDs a month.  However there was a catch: Before I received two Artwork CDs.  Now one CD would be totally illustrations while the other would be nothing but photographs.  And I would be paying even more money for the privilege. 

Let me say that again.  I was receiving two Artwork CDs a month.  Now I was receiving one with Illustrations and one with photography.  One entire CD per month of photographs!!
I was furious.  Are these people out of their minds?

Suddenly I had a CD full of photographs.  I stared in shock at the photos they sent me.  A pair of glasses.  A stranger frowning at a computer.  A crying baby.  A glass full of cherries.  And what exactly was I going to do with a picture of a fat guy taking a hike? 

I was paying $100 a month for 2 CDs.  That meant I was forking over $50 a month for a service I never asked for, never wanted, and had no use for.  Furthermore I was given no choice.   What were these people thinking?  At the time, I actually had a gut feeling that Dynamic Graphics had sent out all those promotional catalogues with poor results.  I assumed they discovered they were having a hard time selling their photographs.  Desperate, they decided to FORCE their customers to paying for Photography whether we liked it or not. 

I got on the phone and asked the customer rep if I could just pay for the Artwork and skip the photographs.  No luck.  She said this was not an option.  To get the artwork, I had to pay for the photos too.   $50 for a photo of a fat guy hiking.  Such a deal!!

I patiently explained to the woman that if I needed a photograph of a fat guy hiking, I could take one with my own camera.  Why were they making their customers pay for photos that could be taken for free?

She said that Dynamic Graphics had hired leading professionals to use their artistic talent to take quality pictures.  Plus these Photographs were Royalty Free!!  Oh boy!  So are my own photographs.  That's right, my own photographs are royalty free too!  Unfortunately that argument was lost on the customer service woman.

I added that most of the photographs were of total strangers.  I told the rep that my dance customers preferred to see photos of themselves on the web site, not people they didn't know. 

I said people did not really care about pictures of dogs, cherries, crying babies and glasses.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I like pictures of dogs, but do I really have to pay for a dog photograph when I can take a royalty-free picture of my own dog

Meet Peanut, the royalty-free dog that will pose for any picture I ask her to.  Peanut participated in this Priceless royalty-free Picture of my wife and daughter after I drugged them!  That'll teach them to cooperate a little more the next time I ask them to pose for a royalty-free picture.

I could tell the customer representative was exasperated with my impertinence.  She replied, "This is the way it's going to be. Take it or leave it.


These days Chris was only an "occasional" contributor. Fortunately for Dynamic Graphics, they were either lucky or they had the sense to include some Chris pictures in that January 2003 first edition of Liquid Library.   The thought of missing even one new Chris picture was more than I could bear.  So I gave in and continued my subscription.  I was a little ashamed of myself.  I should have canceled my subscription on the spot, but my addiction to this man's unbelievable talent prevented me from making a rational business decision.

If I had known Chris was not going to be part of the Liquid Library for much longer, I would have quit on the spot.  Chris only stuck around for eight more months.  The last time I saw a new Chris picture was in October 2003.   I instantly noted his absence from the November 2003 issue. For a while, whenever I received my new issues of artwork, I would open it with excitement hoping Chris would make a comeback.  But after a year, I gave up.  It was with great sadness that I accepted that I had seen the last of any original Chris pictures. 

Genius.  I think this artist is a genius.  I don't know who he is, but this man has such an amazing talent.  I still don't understand why he is not famous.  This man's artwork is so brilliant.  Why haven't I ever seen a story in a magazine about his work?  They said he lived in Chicago.  Why hasn't Oprah discovered him yet? 

No one has ever painted a picture of a beautiful woman with more style! 

No explanation for the departure of Chris was ever given by Dynamic Graphics.  At the time I assumed that perhaps he was approaching retirement age.  However sometimes I wonder if he was forced out or told he would have to work for less.  You would think they would acknowledge the passing of their greatest artist, but I guess not.  I believe this man was worth his weight in gold to this company.

I have often wondered if his name really was "Chris".  It's difficult to admire a phantom.  All I ever wanted to do was thank him for sharing his gift.  Too bad the company was so paranoid they could never even acknowledge his name.  You never know how vulnerable these corporate giants might become if they give any credit to the people who helped build their company.

DG was lucky to have him.  It was the artwork of Chris that caught my eye in the very issue I ever saw (November 1984) and it was his work that kept me wishing for more.  For twenty years, I had worshipped the ground he walked on.  Without Chris and his drawings, I would have told Dynamic Graphics what they could do with their stupid photographs a long time ago.

Chris, wherever you are, I admire your work.  Thank you so much for your contributions.  What a gift you have and thank you for sharing it with me and all the other customers of this strange institution that didn't acknowledge you and probably didn't deserve you.


When Dynamic Graphics sends me quality pictures like this, I am thrilled

How I am Rewarded for $45,000 and 25 Years of Loyalty

Dynamic Graphics now holds the distinction of being the only company in my entire career to pursue SSQQ for non-payment of a bill.  

In September 2004, a stupid situation developed when a woman from Dynamic Graphics named Patricia Mann started fussing at me over an unpaid bill. 
Patricia Mann had first called the dance studio in late August 2004 to complain about a missing payment.  At the time, I was just two months away from my 20th anniversary of subscribing to the Dynamic Graphics art service. My ex-wife Judy Archer took the call and said she would handle it.  Judy paid all of our bills promptly.  

Any glance at our perfect twenty year payment record with Dynamic Graphics would show we were good customers.  But DG didn't trust us.  Two days after the collection phone call,  we received the first fax my business had gotten in the past three years.  I had forgotten anyone even had the correct phone number for the fax machine!!  I didn't even know the number myself.  The fax said we owed Dynamic Graphics $180 for an unpaid bill.  $180 was payment for one month.

I went to the checkbook and noticed that Judy had just sent in a payment for the same amount.  That's when I made a mistake.  I incorrectly assumed this was the same bill Ms. Mann was talking about.   So I quit worrying about the bill.

One week later I received an email from Ms. Mann inquiring about the unpaid bill. 

----Original Message-----
From: Patricia L. Mann
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2004 3:19 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: liquid library service
Importance: High

Good afternoon Rick. I have been unable to reach you by phone to advise of a past due invoice.

The invoice number is 348208 in the amount of $181.74.  This invoice is for the May liquid library and the June Print Media service. The invoice is dated April 30th 2004.

We have received payments on a regular basis except for this invoice.

We have a special service available to all our customers at no additional charge to you. We can auto charge your monthly invoices on a credit card. After your card is charged each month we would send you a paid receipt.

Please advise if I can set you up for auto charge and when we can expect remittance for the past due invoice as it is delaying your current monthly shipments.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of being your image provider. Have a great day.

Patricia L. Mann
Dynamic Graphics Group
Account Specialist

Here is a DG Photograph
I was forced to pay or

A vintage 1995 Chris picture

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2004 5:27 PM
To: Patricia L. Mann
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Ms. Mann,

This is now the third time you have contacted us.

First my bookkeeper received your phone call.  She promised to pay you when she next did our bills.  Then I received your fax.  Now you have emailed me.  We get the message. 

Please calm down.  I don't know what the problem is.  We sent the check - I saw the listing with my own eyes.  

We have always sent the check for nearly twenty years.  You can trust us.  When the returned checks come in, I can see if the missing check is there and handle it then.

Don't worry about it.  I will simply pay the balance if after glancing thru the returned checks I see the one we sent to you is still missing.

Rick Archer

-----Original Message-----
From: Patricia L. Mann
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2004 8:42 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Good morning Rick.  I apologize for bothering you.

With this reply I will note your account and watch for the payment.
I appreciate the reply. With this it will not be necessary to contact you again regarding this matter.

Have a great day.
Patricia Mann

Finally some nudity!!  Here is an exciting photograph of a naked pregnant woman.
I was forced to pay for this.

Here is an example of the artwork that makes Dynamic Graphics a quality service. They should stick to artwork

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 7:07 AM
To: Patricia L. Mann
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Received canceled checks today and our check to dynamic graphics was in there.

#4971 dated august 17 in the exact amount of 181.74

Rick Archer

-----Original Message-----
From: Patricia L. Mann
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 8:33 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Good morning Rick.

We are in receipt of check number 4971. Invoice number 375333 was paid with that check. We have not received payment for invoice 348208 dated April 30th for the May Liquid Library and June Print Media Service.

Once this invoice is taken care of you will be paid to current.

If you like, we can place that on a credit card to clear immediately or you can submit a check.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great day.

Oh boy, a picture of a plastic warning light!!  Why I am forced to pay for this is beyond me.  My digital camera could take it for free.

No one paints a beautiful woman like Chris.  He is a genius.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 10:21 AM
To: Patricia L. Mann
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Now I understand.  It is obvious that somehow the April bill got misplaced.  I apologize.

However I am reluctant to pay by credit card. The simple thing to do is add in the missing payment when I receive my next bill.

By the way, I noticed I haven't received a Dynamic Graphics mailing in some time. If I am not mistaken, I haven't seen anything since early July.  

Nor have I seen a bill.

You aren't by some chance "holding" my shipments till I pay this one outstanding bill,  are you?

Rick Archer

-----Original Message-----
From: Patricia L. Mann
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 10:40 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: liquid library service

The only shipment I can see that is being held is your September shipment.

We have made a shipment each month to the following address: xxxx street, Houston, TX 77007.

If this is not correct please advise so I can correct your account.
Please let me know the last issue you received. I will replace the issues missing.

I am unable to release the September shipment until the open invoice is remitted. Do you have a fax number and I will fax it to you?

If not, let me know and I will place a copy of that invoice in the mail.
Thank you

Patricia L. Mann

Wow!!  They sent me a photo of a
metal chair!  Just what I hoped for!!

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 11:25 AM
To: Patricia L. Mann
Subject: RE: liquid library service

Ms. Mann, I don't appreciate having my shipment withheld for several reasons.

You are the most aggressive bill pursuer in the history of my business.  In fact, you are the only bill pursuer in the history of my business. 

For twenty-five years, my company has paid every bill ever sent to us.  We have never ONCE had a bill collector contact us before so pardon my inexperience with this new phenomenon you have introduced me to.  

ou also hold the record for variety of approaches with three different forms of contact. You have a) phoned us, b) faxed us, and c) contacted us via email.  

My question to you is why are you being so aggressive?    We have missed ONE PAYMENT.  You have several emails from me saying I will pay the bill as soon as things get sorted out.

Why is your company so concerned about ONE MISSING PAYMENT?  Any glance at my record will show I have been doing business with your company since 1984.

We are just one month short of TWENTY YEARS. That means out of 239 bills to date, we have paid 238 on time plus you are in possession of an email from me promising to pay the missing bill as well.

But this isn't good enough for you, is it?   No, my current issue will be withheld until payment is made.

I imagine the root of the problem is very simple: We never received the bill.  As you can see from our recent payment, check number 4971, we paid the latest bill we have received the moment we got it.   Why would we deliberately skip a bill?  The answer is we wouldn't.  Conclusion: We probably never got the bill in the first place.

Now I understand that your company has a right to be paid for its service.   My only question is why you guys come on so hard for one missed payment.   We are talking about $181.  Doesn't our track record indicate perhaps taking a softer approach than withholding shipments and three styles of bill collecting?

Have you guys ever heard of "patience"?

Was it really that necessary for you to embarrass me? 

Cool!!  A picture of some guy in a suit holding up a barbell!! 

However, now that I have your attention, I have a complaint to share. 

I feel taken advantage of. 
I have been forced to pay god only knows how much money for the past couple years for an endless series of photographs that I HAVE NEVER USED and DON'T WANT.  

If I want a photograph, I imagine my digital camera will take any picture I want.

I only pay for these photographs because I am forced to.

I originally signed up for ARTWORK, but now your company stuffs these useless photographs down my throat and expects me to pay for them in order to receive the ARTWORK I originally contracted to buy. I hate your policy.  

Any company with a conscience would allow me to pay for what I want and not require me to pay for something I don't want by using the artwork as ransom.  No, change that.  Ignore that stuff about 'conscience'.  A company WITH A BRAIN would not intimidate its customers with aggressive bill collecting over a simple mistake.  A company WITH A BRAIN would not ignore its customer's legitimate complaints.  Your 'Take it or Leave it' approach to the Photography problem is not smart business.

I will send you a check today.  My congratulations to you on your successful bill collection effort.  All you ever had to do was simply add the unpaid balance to the next bill.

Rick Archer

-----Original Message-----
From: Patricia L. Mann
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 2:10 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: re: liquid library

Good afternoon Rick. I apologize that I have angered you in any way.

I feel if we had been able to speak personally we would not have gotten off on the wrong foot.

It is not now, nor has it ever been in the past my practice to be overly aggressive or to strong arm anyone I contact. In no way have I felt that we were in jeopardy of being swindled.

The September issue will be released for shipment immediately.
  (Rick's Note: On Sept 22, more than one week later, I still had not received this issue. So much for "immediately")

Liquid Library is an all purpose image resource and we try hard to include content that meets the needs of all our customers.

I sincerely thank you for allowing us the privilege of being your image provider, and hope you will accept my apology.

If you will verify your address is correct and the issues you are missing, I will have them replaced.  Have a great day.

Patricia L. Mann

Oh boy, a picture of a hand using
a Mouse! I love this one! 

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 3:26 PM
To: Patricia L. Mann
Subject: complaint of month liquid library

Thank you for the form letter.

You did not even begin to address my concern about being expected to pay for Photography CDs that I do not want.  You completely ignored what I said.

Over the years I have used your artwork extensively.  For the most part, I have been very pleased.

I was a huge fan of your company until the unilateral DG decision to force me to accept the photography included in "liquid library". This photographic material is completely useless to my business.

And now I have this awkward bill collecting incident to add to my Dynamic Graphics experience.

Your check is in the mail.

Rick Archer


Ms. Mann assured me "Liquid Library is an all purpose image resource and we try hard to include content that meets the needs of all our customers."

That explanation left me deeply unsatisfied.  For the past 5 years, in order to receive the artwork I want, I had been forced to accept a CD of useless photographs as well.  I pay $80 a month for two CDs.  One CD is photography I don't need and don't want.  Assuming each CD is worth $40 (half of $80), that is a five-year waste of $2,400.  I could buy a great digital camera for that money and take my own pictures! 

You have seen examples of the photographs. 
What customer needs these photographs? 

This article marks the first AND ONLY time I have ever used a single Dynamic Graphics photograph. 

Isn't it ironic that I have used these photographs in order to demonstrate how utterly useless they are?

Shortly after Ms. Mann and I finished our email exchange in 2004, just for the fun of it, I decided to try an experiment.  I selected a photograph from the November 2000 Dynamic Graphics photography collection.  It was a truly eye-catching photograph for the ages: a hand, a glove, a pencil and a piece of paper (see Exhibit A).  Then, to make it really artsy, an attractive light green background was included.  I imagine this photograph was very valuable!  I felt fortunate to have been forced to buy it.

A professional photographer undoubtedly spent years acquiring the skill to take a photograph of this magnitude.  How creative!!

Notice how nicely the papers are layered and now the pencil point is sharpened!

I have to ask this question:  How many years of business school training do you suppose it took some clever DG executive to acquire the skill to figure out a way to force people to pay MONEY for this picture?

For the second phase of the experiment, I attempted to create a similar picture using my own meager Photography skills.

First I carefully assembled the necessary items - paper, pencil - to duplicate the scene.  After much thought - maybe 2 seconds - I decided to skip the glove. That was probably a mistake, but I was in a hurry to get this over with.

Then I had to locate a hand.   I asked my daughter Samantha (
Exhibit B) to come lend me a hand.  I told her not to worry, I would let her keep the hand after the photo shoot.

Sam was very reluctant.  She explained that she had no advanced training in posing for commercial photography.  I told her to calm down and not to worry.  Sam was still unsure.  How much would she be paid?  After some wrangling, I persuaded her to help by saying, "Stick out your hand if you ever want to eat using all your fingers again."  That ended all labor woes.

I moved Sam's hand to the exact angle, then gently placed the pencil in her hand.  We were ready to go.   I picked up my four-year old $200 Sony Mavica digital camera, turned the Flash to the "ON" position, aimed carefully and delicately pressed the camera button.  Click!

Due to my inexperience in Photography, I stupidly assumed one shot would be sufficient.  I am sure a professional would have been more thorough and taken many pictures from many different angles.  Oh well. I guess I did the best I could.

I copied the picture onto my computer hard drive and published it here on my web site.  The entire process took about two minutes.  I believe arguing with my daughter took up most of the time.  I suppose if I had looked for a glove, that would have added yet another minute.  But there you have it, two minutes to create a photographic masterpiece of my very own.

You be the judge of my work (
Exhibit C).   I am my own worst critic.  It isn't perfect. I admit there is an unanticipated blue shadow, but you know what, some people might say the shadow is artistic.  I like this photograph for one reason in particular:

My photograph didn't cost me a single penny. And it was royalty free!  In fact, this picture was PRICELESS! 

Exhibit A: DG Photo, Nov 2000

Exhibit B: Guess Who?

Exhibit C: A royalty-free photograph of daughter's hand taken by Rick Archer

Letters to the Editor

Letter One

-----Original Message-----
From: Katherine B
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 4:21 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: oh my goodness

Hi Rick,

I just wanted to tell you I stumbled on your Dynamic Graphics story and could not stop laughing!

I live right next to the Dynamic Graphics building in Peoria, Illinois.  I was just browsing the internet and came across your letter.  I actually interviewed with that company right out of college, but didn't get the job.

PS - I think your picture of the paper and hand was so much better.  The angle of your daughter's hand was so graceful!  And that blue shadow was such a nice touch.  Have you ever thought of going professional?  -:)

Letter Two

-----Original Message-----
From: Corinne C
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 7:33 PM
Subject: Clipper Artist "Chris"

Dear Mr. Rick Archer,

I would like very much to know if you have learned any more about the amazing and secret artist that worked at Dynamic Graphics, creating the clip art for their magazine.

I too called to find out more about the artist and got nowhere. Surely someone, somewhere, knows something about this artist. I have been looking for some artwork for years. Do you know where I can find his or her work?

Warmest regards,

Corinne C – graphic artist/designer

Rick Archer's 2009 Note: There has been a new development about 'Chris'.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page or click here!


-----Original Message-----
From: Darryl
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 5:43 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Your incredible DG story


Wow....I stumbled across your unbelievable story and all the related follow-up this afternoon after Googlin' for the old Dynamic Graphics website.

I can relate completely!

Like you, I was a 20-year (combined services) subscriber to DG and prior to my own subscription as an adult, had worked with the images starting way back in the '70s as my father's "art apprentice." I grew up loving that artwork and the SAME EXACT artists as you. I myself had always wondered who these "mystery artists" were. I knew they were mostly freelance and not actually working in the building....as I had gleaned that info after a trip with my father to the Peoria studio back in the '80s. We were both so enamored with the company that we drove 200 miles out of the way to go by there just to "see the magic" on the return leg of one of our father/son cross country trips back then. Dad even flew up there and went through one of their training courses at one point....we both loved the service, the anticipation of getting the new art each month....the whole "aura" of it.

As a teenager and my dad's right hand....he did his own advertising for his business and I learned right along with him....self-taught "artists" we were. But we weren't the artists, of course....we were "graphic artists" at best...taking the artwork provided by DG (Clipper, PMS) and creating the feeling. It's funny how nostalgic it makes me just sitting here thinking about it and writing this.

It's really amazing how your feelings and mine parallel....and how I, too, saw all these changes swirling about and finally, reluctantly, cancelled my subscriptions to all services in 2004. After a decade-plus of subscribing to the digital service myself, I had had enough, too.  The only thing that made me try to go online to the DG website (that I assumed was still there) was the need to find an image from all those years of subscriptions that I have sitting behind me on a shelf....was the hope of using their search engine to hopefully find an image that is no doubt contained in all these CDs but which I can't easily access since I don't have the year-end index CDs for those last few years. I'm no longer in graphic design myself....I gravitated away in 1995 when it became apparent that everyone with a computer and PhotoShop thought they could do graphic design work themselves...strangely paralleling your findings on how the digital camera made stock photography (not to mention line drawings like we loved from DG) virtually obsolete. At that time, I "started over" by starting a holiday lighting supply company - and am proud to say that, like your dance studio, we've evolved into the leading supplier of such product for the commercial holiday lighting business in the USA. Proof, I guess, that things can change, evolve and become good all over again in whole new way.

Anyway....I stumbled across your story and felt an instant connection...strange as that may sound. I couldn't believe how detailed it was...and, of course, I couldn't help feel both vindicated (like yourself) and yet somehow saddened that this whole era that myself and my dad were so linked to is now "dead." What a strange thing indeed.

I'm rambling for sure....the whole afternoon is now officially "shot"....just wanted to say "THANKS" for revealing some of these mysteries to myself and others out there who can relate. I know one thing....I'm going to seek out Frank and Mitch's work in local studios in Chicago next time I'm up there if I'm fortunate enough to have the time and can locate them. What talents...both of them!

With thanks from a fellow Texan up in Lubbock,

Darryl H


(Rick Archer's Note:  As of January 2009, my article about Dynamic Graphics was positioned at 102 on Google, Page 11.  That means my article was buried pretty deep.  I can only assume the woman in the letter below found my story via a very thorough Google Search.)



From: kmmyb

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 5:12 PM

To: dance@ssqq.com

Subject: Dynamic Graphics


I came across you letter on the internet regarding Dynamic Graphics. My father started this company in 1964 after his father started Multi-ad services in 1945. My grandfather was thrown out by his employees in 1962 and being despondent committed suicide. My father sued and won and started Dynamic Graphics.

If you knew the history and my father and his dedication and the background, you would be more appreciative.


Kim Bryan

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 7:55 PM

To: 'kmmyb'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


Why would my "lack of appreciation" for Dynamic Graphics in any way be affected by your father's story? 


The point of my story is that the company has made terrible decisions by forcing unwanted photographs down our throats and eliminating their top artists.


What does any of my problem have to do with your family's history?   I doubt seriously that your father had anything to do with what I am upset about.

From: kim bryan

Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 9:50 PM

To: 'Rick Archer'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


This company was my father's vision and his life. He died in 1992 and if you had known him you would not desecrate his life and what he did.

You know nothing about Dynamic Graphics. You have 1 tiny experience that you put all over the internet about a company my father created. He did not even know about the internet. He created a company out of a legacy his father left. I lived it. I felt it. Your experience in regards to this company is so small in compared to mine or all the employees who came to his funeral telling me how they loved him and what he did for them. Even I was in awe of what they had to say. He took care of everyone he employed and they loved him.

You have some selfish little experience and you can not see farther than that. Everyone and everything has a story and those who are so arrogant to think their story is the only one and the defining one are living in selfishness. The history behind this company is so huge and compelling yet you have some stupid small experience about an artist and by the way, an artist that received exposure due to what my father created, that I call this arrogance.

Every artist he bought artwork from was very thankful and caring and loyal to him. He was a creative person with a vision for his time. I miss him every day and the Dynamic Graphics emblem is on his crypt. You, I have no use for.


From: Rick Archer

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11:21 AM

To: 'kim bryan'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


"You, I have no use for."


Ms. Bryan, if you have actually read my article, you will note that I have paid out at least $1,200 a year to Dynamic Graphics… now Jupiter Images… since 1984.  At one point I had double subscriptions for about fifteen years.  Not only have I been a loyal customer of your father's 'vision' for 25 years, by my estimate, I have paid out well over $45,000 in subscription fees.  Even at today's inflated prices, I could buy a luxury car for those kind of numbers.

It is people like me that keep DG and JI in business.  Most business people would be appreciative of customers like me, but you seem to be the peculiar exception. 


Why do you disrespect me because I had the nerve to protest the company's business decision to force unwanted photographs down my throat?  In your mind, I am 'arrogant', 'selfish', 'tiny'. And I have somehow insulted a man I have never even heard of.  Interesting.  I totally reject your narrow-minded position.


As a review of my position, I originally came to your father's company to buy commercial artwork.  I never signed up to purchase photography.  My camera allows me to take any photograph I want free of charge.  


It seems to me that Dynamic Graphics/Jupiter Images has drifted terribly from your father's vision.  I wrote an article on the Internet to share my attitude because the company's representatives basically said 'Tough. Take it or leave it'.  I decided to continue my subscription, but I resented the company's policy then and continue to resent it. 


And now you have the nerve to call me 'selfish' for protesting the company's policy to shove these unwanted photos down the customer's throat.  What gives you the right to insult me for sharing my complaint about Dynamic Graphics?  Do you believe you have some sort of special privilege because your father once owned the place?


Furthermore, how you managed to take offense at my legitimate right to protest and see my words as being disrespectful to your deceased father's memory is quite a stretch. 


Now that you have had your fun insulting me, maybe you could do me a favor and tell me the name of the artist whose work I admire so much.

From: kim bryan

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1:26 PM

To: 'Rick Archer'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


If I had it I would tell you, because my father only bought art and hired artists he admired and thought could have value to the company. My father founded this company in 1964 after a law suit with Multi-Ad services that broke him and my family. Then he built this company from the ground up. When he got cancer he did not want his employees to be without jobs so he sold it to them before his death. Wish I could help you, but I can't. 

I just know that the what my father accomplished and created out of nothing you could not do.

You can only use the internet to air your petty complaints in a very small fashion.

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1:45 PM

To: 'kim bryan'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


"I just know that the what my father accomplished and created out of nothing you could not do."


I am amused to note that you have just insulted me yet again. This is quite an ability you have.


I have created the largest dance studio in the United States of America out of nothing.  This has been my life's work for the past thirty years.  I might add the wonderful artwork from your father's company has been instrumental in helping me build the studio's success during this time.


Besides teaching 1300 people to dance every month, my studio has created 150 marriages in the past ten years alone.

But then I guess in your set of values building a dance studio from the ground up doesn't begin to compare to creating an art service. 


From: kim bryan

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:19 PM

To: 'Rick Archer'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


If what you say is true then I do appreciate someone who has created something out of nothing. Maybe you can then understand that my father's legacy is not just an "art service" just as yours is not just a "dance studio".

I do not believe I am the one insulting.
I did not write garbage on the internet about your dance studio.

You should be proud of what you have created. Just as I am proud of what my father accomplished. Yes no one is insulting you. You are insulting me. Do you have someone who will be left to appreciate what you have done?  I am left to do so for my father. He died an untimely death still working to the end to provide for his employees.


Kim Bartel


Daughter of the founder of Dynamic Graphics


A company with a legacy of caring for its employees. A company my father dedicated his life to so that his father's life would not be in vain.

From: Rick Archer

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:58 PM

To: 'kim bryan'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


"I do not believe I am the one insulting."


"I did not write garbage…"


There you go again.  Like I said, Ms. Bryan, you have a definite knack for insulting.  You just implied that what I wrote about Dynamic Graphics was 'garbage'. Not the most pleasant metaphor.


I understand a daughter who wishes to honor her father's memory, but tilting at windmills a la Don Quixote is not the right way to go about it.


A quick review of my article will reveal I have never once said anything derogatory about your father.  And if you think my quibble about the photography problem is some sort of indirect poke at your father, then you obviously have a very thin skin.

From: kim bryan

Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:19 PM

To: 'Rick Archer'

Subject: RE: Dynamic Graphics


Go Dance Away



Peoria graphics firm to close

Jupiter Images Corporation, 6000 N. Forest Park Dr. in Peoria, was recently sold to a competitor and will close within 60 days, eliminating 100 jobs.

of the Journal Star

Last update Feb 27, 2009 @ 06:49 PM

PEORIA — The new owners of the Jupiterimages office in Peoria, still referred to by many here as Dynamic Graphics, are expected to close the office and lay off most of the 120-plus employees.

Getty Images Inc. of Seattle completed the acquisition of Jupiterimages, a former subsidiary of New York-based Jupiter Media Corp., Monday for $96 million. The acquisition included all Jupiterimages offices, including Peoria.

Within days, employees of Jupiterimages began receiving 60-day termination notices.

The decision to terminate employees and close offices has nothing to do with economics, but with a lack of need since Jupiterimages and Getty Images were competing firms and duplicated most products and services, creating redundancies, said Getty spokeswoman Bridget Russel.

Russel confirmed termination notices have gone out, but said some employees in Peoria and other Jupiterimages offices have been asked to stay on longer to help with the transition. It’s possible some could be asked to move to other Getty Images offices, she added.

Some Jupiterimages offices will remain open, as well, depending on business needs and building requirements, but Russel said which ones wasn’t yet known. She said it’s possible the Peoria office will remain open to the end of the year, though with a much smaller staff.

“There are still a lot of things being worked out, so we don’t have all of the answers right now,” she said. “Our intention is to bring together the best of each company’s assets and people to better serve our customers.”

Jupiterimages/Dynamic Graphics employees contacted Friday said they were saddened to hear the office will likely close, but not that surprised. None wanted to give their names, saying they’ve been told they will receive severance packages.

“When we heard we were being sold to a competing company, I think we all kind of figured we’d be losing out,” said one.

“It’s really sad,” said another. “I’ve been here a long time and it’s been a good company to work for. They always treated us well here. But I have to say, the buyer is doing right by us, too, I think.”

Dynamic Graphics was founded in Peoria in 1964 by Milton Bartel and was one of the pioneers in the clip-art industry. By supplying clip art to the newspaper and magazine advertising industries, it grew into one of the largest subscription art services in the world, with clients in 85 countires.

Bartel sold the company to the employees in 1990.

The company was sold in 2001 to Jupiter Media Corp. of New York. The Peoria office and its employees were kept intact.

The company, which at one time employed about 250 people, was employee owned for more than a decade before it was sold to Jupiter Media in 2001, but no changes occurred at that time.

Rick Archer's Note: The following email was sent to me with the request that I keep the sender anonymous


I am commenting on the following comment from the story above:
"The company was sold in 2001 to Jupiter Media Corp. of New York. The Peoria office and its employees were kept intact."

This is not factual. At least 1/2 of the total employees were pushed out in 2001. Many had helped the company grow into the success it was, for 15-20 or more years. But when purchased from a single person from NY, everything changed and lives were destroyed. My husband was one of those wonderful people and he worked in the IT Department. In fact, he was the manager. He loved his job when Milt was still there, and also when the company became an ESOP company.

But times change, and as my husband has passed away at a very young age, I know that one Truth is still evident. Eternity is a fact and coming for each and every human. The workers who 'lost' their jobs, or were 'down-sized' away from DG, still have had the joy of working for someone else who has honor and integrity as my husband did, when he became a cherished employee at Versa Press. An incredible company that I pray every day is profitable and blessed beyond measure.

kimmyb  (aka Kim Bryan aka Kim Bartel)

I am Milt Bartel's daughter. I have to thank the person above for their comments. I miss my father everyday and you can imagine. I was 9 yrs old in 1964 when my father started this company after he and my grandfather, Walter Bartel were thrown out of Multi-Ad services in 1963. My grandfather founded Multi-Ad services and was thrown out by the employees after he had given them stock options. My father was fired too. My grandfather was devastated and died the same year. My father sued Multi-Ad and won. Then he started Dynamic Graphics.

So as you can see there is a whole history here and I was there in the very beginning so this has been very hard on me. It has also been hard on my daughter as you can imagine. As a child she remembers running down the hall to her grandpa's office and his bear hugs. To have been hired as an adult was an honor for her, only to see it's demise now. I remember so many of the original employees who worked for my Dad. He always said to me, 'No one knows everything. When you don't know something, surround yourself with people who do.' I am sure the previous employee was one of them. My thanks to all for my father to all the employees he surrounded himself with that made the company the success it was.

Comment by Rick Archer
March 2009

First Dynamic Graphics was bought out by Creatas (the Liquid Library thing) and a few years ago, Jupiter Images bought them out.  Now Getty is buying Jupiter Images and closing the Peoria office down. 

I googled "liquid library" today and see that "Getty Images" is already listed as the owner.  That indicates to me that customers like me will probably be receiving notice soon enough.  I also noticed that the service I currently pay about $90 a month for is listed on their web site at $199.  If they expect me to pay that price, it will likely mark the end of the line for me. 

Getty Images may have established a monopoly of sorts, but let's face it, no one is going to pay $200 for a bunch of worthless photographs and a few good graphic images.  In this economy, good luck finding suckers willing to pay twice the current rate for a service that is half as good as it used to be.

Since the people at the Peoria branch found out their company is going away in April 2009, several people have begun to research their company on the Internet.  Thanks to my web story about Dynamic Graphics, all sorts of people have found it via Google and have begun to contact me. 

One lady was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

February 2009

1) Rick Archer's Question:  "Getty is closing them down".  Why is the company going out of business?  Why would someone buy them just to close them down? Was the business failing?

Answer:  A few months ago I spoke with a friend of mine who was then still involved with the company. Stock photography has pretty much lost it's charm in recent years for reasons similar to what you wrote in your DG page -- anyone with a halfway decent digital camera can take their own photos, clean them up with Photoshop, and slap them in their publication.

Remember, Digital Photography is still a relatively new thing -- Decent consumer grade cameras can now be had for about $200 -- before the year 2000 or so, there was still a huge gap between affordability and quality. 

Digital Cameras were a long way from being much use back when DG/Creatas starting plugging its photography business in 1999.  There were big profits to be made back then selling commercial photography. 

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: 1999 saw the introduction of the Nikon D1, a 2.74 megapixel camera that was the first digital SLR developed entirely by a major manufacturer.  At a cost of $6,000 this camera was only affordable by professional photographers and high end consumers.  It would be 2003 before a digital camera costing under $1,000 changed the entire landscape of photography.  This four-year window (1999-2003 was the heyday of commercial digital photography.  However the introduction of affordable digital cameras in 2003 changed that in a hurry.)

In those days, let's say you are Mister Project Worker who needs a photo for a presentation tomorrow.  It was easier for Mister Project Worker to hop on a photography site and find a picture of "Man in Meeting acting Bored" instead of rounding up models, getting out the camera, taking a dozen shots, sending the film off to be developed, making sure the legal department okayed the snapshot, and so on.  Go to the site, pay $50 for a photo, and be done with it in a snap.

That being said, now that everyone has a digital camera and knows someone who can use Photoshop, the need for stock photography has not been as strong as it has been in the past. 

Back in those days, no one seemed to foresee how quickly digital cameras would became both affordable and superior to film cameras.  The emergence of this new technology happened so fast!  That completely took the air out of this bubble.  The big profits selling stock photography went up in smoke, leaving a company like Jupiter Images vulnerable to a takeover.

That's what happens sometimes in business when you back the wrong horse.

2) Rick Archer's Question:  What is the history of Dynamic Graphics? What kind of place is it?

Answer:  Years ago the company was called Dynamic Graphics. It was an ESOP and run by a guy whose name I believe was Pete Force. At some point he either retired or died. When people talked about him, it was in hushed reverent tones.

In the year 2000, a company out of New York called Creatas bought Dynamic Graphics.  I got the impression that this was a vanity project -- some group of investors wanted to own a stylish design firm.

They found Dynamic Graphics in Peoria which was one step away from a mom-and-pop grocery store, and turned it around into a stock photography powerhouse -- hosting images from many different stock agencies like Corbis, Thinkstock, and many others including their own collections.

The old media was eliminated (Print Media, Clipper, and Designer's Club).  This is the part in your site where you discussed the evolution into Liquid Library.

In approximately 2005, Creatas (sometimes called the Dynamic Graphics Group) was sold to a company called JupiterMedia (aka JupiterImages) which ran the show until recently.

3) Rick Archer's Question:  Why do you suppose the company was so paranoid about protecting my favorite artist's identity?  I mean, the one woman who spoke to me sounded like she would lose her job if someone caught her. And even then she lied about the man's name. Every time I ever contacted this company, people were tense and worried about something. What was behind this fear?

Answer:  You had the right idea with your theory -- DG bought rights to the artwork, and therefore wanted to sell them as Their Product.  Bob Smith wants to buy some DG artwork -- he can pay $50 from DG, or maybe he can get it directly from the artist for $25.  If you could get it for half price from the artist, DG loses their $25 profit!  From a business perspective, I can see why they would want to keep their customers buying through them. If I had an apple cart, I might want to make sure you don't know where the apple tree is, or I lose my profit!

Another thing that DG wanted people to believe is that they had artists working in their building scribbling away on canvas creating this work in-house. That was not the case. To the best of my knowledge, most if not all of DG's art was submitted by freelance artists, scanned in, then re-drawn/traced using Adobe Illustrator and saved to an EPS file.

Regarding the paranoia you alluded to, there was always a lot of drama in that building. 

The people who worked there had quite a collective imagination and weren't exactly the sharpest marbles in the knife drawer.  However I don't recall anyone ever being told "do not ever tell anyone what you see here."  I can't imagine why that one woman was afraid she would get fired.

As for that lady's paranoia...

If you were contacting the company between 2000-2006 (the Creatas years) and sensed that paranoia and fear -- it was fear for their jobs. Management at that time was making constant changes without telling anyone, eliminating departments, getting rid of this person because she had a different idea... heck, they fired one supervisor for job abandonment while he was out of town for his grandmother's memorial service. 

The person that changed our company to photography and away from the illustration business was a guy by the name of Moffley who was out of New York.  His photography push was a far cry from what the business was.  He was also a terrible boss and made the atmosphere around here really bad, but he probably did save the company from going under even before now. Luckily when Jupiter bought us things became really good again.  well...good again that is till now.

So yes, people were afraid for their jobs. Something to keep in mind is that many if not most of the people worked there did so because they couldn't find anything else -- DG was sort of an island of misfit toys in many ways.

4) Rick Archer's Question:  Not long ago some lady named Kim Bryan attacked me with a lot of misplaced anger for writing ill of her father's company. Do you suppose the closing of the business had something to do with her unexpected rant?  I mean, do you think Ms. Bryan was angry about the demise of her father's legacy and took what I wrote the wrong way?

Answer:  Kim Bryan must be one of Pete Force's daughters. Remember, by the time Creatas bought Dynamic Graphics in 2000, Pete Force was long gone.

((UPDATE)) I just did some snooping. Turns out I am wrong.  Pete Force was not the founder nor was he Kim Bryan's father.  This is what I found on the Internet:

 "January of 2000, Pete Force "retired" after 17 years with Dynamic Graphics, where he served as Officer/Vice President of Marketing, Sales and New Business in order to work full time in the sports industry."

The departure of Pete Force does seem linked to the time when you first became aware that this company was starting to go downhill.  I am aware that there was a twisted history between the two companies, but I am not able to find any documentation on the web.

Regardless of names, I do know that the founder of the company did create a warm and fuzzy family atmosphere that was said to have disappeared once the new york people took over.

5) Rick Archer's Question:  You may have noticed I was a little wacko about the insistence of the company to keep forcing me to pay for photography. What was that all about?  Was I the only person on earth who complained about the photography?   Did their decision to back photography ever make any money for them?

Answer:  Well, I wasn't privy to any numbers or sales figures -- however, it was decided somewhere along the line to change the direction of DG from being an "art" company to a "photo" powerhouse. It could very well have been based on the whim of the then-new CEO -- "Nobody wants illustrations anymore, they want PHOTOS!" Whether that was true or not, there is something known as the Golden Rule. He who has the gold gets to make the rules.

6) Rick Archer's Question: 
One thing I still can't quite figure out... why is Getty buying something to close it down?  Is the place losing big bucks?

Answer:  I am guessing that it's an act of consolidation. DG/Jupiter/Picturequest/whatever owned a LOT of photos. Not sure if you've been paying attention to the little bylines in the news, but Getty is a powerhouse image company and owns the rights to nearly all the images you see in Time magazine, the news, encyclopedias, even (I kid you not) works of art like the Mona Lisa.

This company, Getty, did not want to buy "The Company of DG", but likely wanted their photos.  It also wanted to eliminate the competition.

To translate that into the applecart example I brought up earlier.. Ok, You have Rick's Apple Stand which sells apples from your tree, and I have Mary's Apple Stand supplied by my tree. We're both doing well, people enjoy our product, and we're each selling our apples to members of the community. One day I decide that I want to be the only apple seller in town so I buy Rick's Apple Stand, his tree, and inventory. Then I dump your apples into my stand, sell them as my own brand, and throw away the "Ricks" Sign. I now have the largest apple stand ever, both apple trees, and best of all no competition.

If people want apples, they come to me. Not a bad deal, even for you considering I probably made it worth your while to retire.  Who cares about the little people who suffer when their jobs disappear?

So to recap -- Getty bought DG for the photos (the apples.) They don't care about the building, the staff, the legacy of DG, or the artists who work there. They want all those images -- more accurately, the profit from selling those images.  If you Google for "Liquid Library", you will see that Getty is already marketing the Liquid Library as their own for about double what you are paying now.  They figure they control the market and now they intend to make some money. 

7) Rick Archer's Question:  In your opinion, do you think the decision to go full force into the photography stuff contributed to their downfall?

Answer:  It makes sense to say that by eliminating illustration, they certainly did alienate the customers like you who preferred that product.  However, if out of 100 customers, three liked the illustrations and 97 liked the photographs, then it was a wise business decision to say "97 is more than 3".  Any good business person will cater to the majority of his clientele.

GM and Ford had a small loyal customer base of people who just loved and adored the old rear-wheel drive station wagons with the wood paneling on the side. Then on day GM/Ford realized that although there were some people who bought them, MORE people liked Minivans and SUV's... So the wagon was scrapped.  Same deal here, in a way.

I do not think there was really a "downfall" as you say -- it seems to me that this was just standard evolution of business. Trends change. I remember reading somewhere in your site about how your own business was slow for a while, then swing dancing became popular and there was a spike in clientele.  During that time, maybe you promoted Swing Dancing more than Tango or Foxtrot because Swing was more popular and that's what people wanted.  I assume you go with the dance that is hot.

Theoretically, if registrations for Tango/Foxtrot drastically declined, you may remove those offerings from your sign on the building to avoid looking like you were "behind the times."  Same with DG -- in someone's eyes, the trend was moving towards photography. 

In some hush-hush meeting in the faraway New York office, some up and coming MBA hotshot likely said

"You know, none of the trendy photo companies have illustrations cluttering their product, let's be like the trendy people and focus on photos, that way people don't think we're just some little hick company in the Midwest."

8) Rick Archer's Question:  As I read the notes about the demise of DG on the Internet, I could not help but notice some of the other notes pointed out how bleak things are in the state of Indiana.  It breaks my heart to see Indiana... or any state for that matter... to be in such bad shape. This economy is really scary.

Answer:  Yes, yes it is. Things in Central IL are pretty precarious right now since so much around us relies on Caterpillar but Cat is pretty shaky these days. Cat has released thousands of workers starting with the first wave on December 19th.  Merry Christmas.  Everything has been downhill since. The local Peoria economy is VERY Cat-centric.

You should watch a good news interview on the whole subject of DG.

It is definitely a shame to see a company like Dynamic Graphics get steamrolled.  The price drop for photography reflects what I was telling you about the sudden lack of demand for stock photography.  According to the the paper, the CEO of Jupiter Images reported they lost 40% of their business after what he calls a "technology internet revolution" changed their competitive landscape.  Photographs that sold for $300 in 2000 can be bought for $3 today.

In business, sometimes you have to make decisions about the future with little more than a crystal ball to guide you.  This uncertainty drives people crazy with anxiety, so often-times they end up doing what everyone is doing.  In retrospect, why didn't someone in Detroit see the gas spike coming ahead of time and start building green cars before it was too late?  The writing has been on the wall forever, but no one in Detroit had the guts or the vision to take the lead.  Now they are fighting for their survival. 

It's the same thing here.  Back in 1999, no one ever anticipated just how quickly digital cameras would not only improve, but become affordable to the average guy.  Today, now that everyone has a digicam and photoshop, the whole world has come to the same conclusion you did,

"Who needs to pay for this photography when we can it ourselves for free?


MEET FRANK FRUZYNA, aka the Artist formerly known as "Chris"

Rick Archer's Note:  The mystery was solved in February 2009.  The name of the artist I have admired for so long is Frank Fruzyna

With the news that Dynamic Graphics/ Jupiter Images was being shut down, a person with an interest in doing a deeper story was researching "Dynamic Graphics" via Google when she ran across my page.

Although she wishes to remain anonymous, she  recognized Mr. Fruzyna's work on my page instantly and was thoughtful enough to share his name with me.

So much for "Chris", huh?  It is nice to finally put the correct name to the man whose work I admire so much.

Imagine how excited I was to discover that Mr. Fruzyna is not retired.  Far from it.  These samples of his current work show that although his style has changed somewhat from his Dynamic Graphics days, he continues to draw amazing pictures. 

Mr. Fruzyna is a lives in Chicago.  His name may have been anonymous to me, but he is well-known in the art circles of Chicago.  His name appears in all sorts of Chicago-area art show publicity, but I couldn't find even the slightest trace of any biography about him other than spare tidbits listed on his web site.

Since there is a near-total absence of Internet information about Mr. Fruzyna, I can only assume he is a very private person who guards his identity closely.  So, for now, I will leave it that. 

Frank Fruzyna's web site

Rick Archer's Note:

A 2013 photograph of my favorite artist, Frank Fruzyna.

Vintage Dynamic Graphics work by Mitch O'Connell

Current work by Mitch O'Connell

A Letter from Mitch O'Connell

Rick Archer's Note:  Shortly after I wrote my first note to Frank Fruzyna, I received this nice email from Mitch O'Connell.  Apparently Mr. Fruzyna had passed my email about my DG web page over to his friend and former Dynamic Graphics colleague. 

As I read Mr. O'Connell's letter, I began to wonder what his artwork looked like.  So I googled his name.  After several examples popped up, I quickly realized that Mr. O'Connell was another artist whose work I greatly admired. 

To this day, Mr. O'Connell's series of Fifties Era pictures help me promote my favorite dance of the year, the SSQQ Sock Hop

As you will read in the letter, Frank Fruzyna is a "Pro's Pro".  I think Mitch O'Connell's work was terrific, but even Mr. O'Connell openly admits that Frank Fruzyna's artwork absolutely amazes him.


From: Mitchell O'Connell    [mitchoc@sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 10:28 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Frank Fruzyna

Dear Rick,

Great article on Frank!  I am also a big fan (and fellow clip art illustrator).

You're 100% correct when you say Frank should be a super-star!

His art is beautiful, stunning, elegant and classy. Frank WAS Dynamic Graphics.

I lucked out 'cause when I started doing work for Dynamic Graphics way back in '85 the first thing I asked was "Who is this guy?!?"

Since I was in the fold, they let me in on the secret of who Frank was and the news that he also lived in Chicago.

Of course I gave him a call and went to his studio to ooh and ahh and stare slack jawed at his artwork while gushing praise and admiration. Whenever I got their publications I would also just cut out Franks art (plus my own) and toss the rest. He's the best!

DG never told the artists themselves to keep it a secret. Everyone I worked at DG were top notch folks. I was much more into promoting myself and getting my name out there than Frank was. DG was pretty much 100% of Franks output and about 20% of mine.

And thanks for your nice compliments on my stuff too!

Mitch O'Connell
5645 N Drake Ave
Chicago IL 60659

Mitch O'Connell Reminiscence about Frank Fruzyna

April 5, 2011

On Frank's Birthday, why not pay tribute to my pal and iconic illustrator Frank Fruzyna?

As you'll see by the before and afters, seeing Franks art knocked my head off and changed the way I drew for a good long time ("Mitch, there are 2 examples of your art compared to Franks one!" Yes, I can even make a tribute to someone else all about me!). Even if you don't know the name, you HAVE seen his art, in fact, probably 100's of times.

Frank was THE clip artist for Dynamic Graphics throughout the 80's and '90's. Imagine, (for the sake of an easy reference point) Pat Nagel, yet as a much more talented and creative artist. That's Frank.

If you looked closely at his graceful lifework embellished with stipple shading you could always find the box within a box signature design. DG liked to keep the identities of their artists as secret as possible, but since I just started working for them too, they let me in on the mystery artists name and also that he lived in Chicago. Of course I pestered my way into his studio to fanboy ooh and ahh and left with a stack of xeroxes and a signed Miss America poster Frank had done.

If you have a copy of my graphic novel Ginger Fox (or any of my stuff from that era), you can see Franks surface techniques all over the place. I didn't (and still don't, btw) the skill to capture the elegance that held the shine together, but that didn't stop me from having fun slapping all those flashy zigs 'n zags everywhere.

Before Frank I thought you had to draw every single line, it took his art for me to realize that you could capture a shirt sleeve with a well placed whoosh of a line and the folds it contained could be abstract energized shapes. It never occurred to me before! I even went as far to adding the Frank stipple once for a clip art piece, but the folks there nicely told me to knock it off. I'm amazed that at some point Frank also never told me to knock it off too (or at least go, WTF!), but instead he's always been gracious, helpful and inspiring.

I will always shake my head looking at how amazing his work is (I can't help being jealous), but since I like the guy I'll let it go.

I'm also lucky enough to have a stack of his clip art originals and a few paintings (including the Tura Satana masterwork). I even commissioned Frank to do a portrait of my ex years back. She took it with her (not that I was in any mood to see it again- no offense Frank). Luckily, being quite the friend, he was nice enough to place a curse on it for me! The Clip art days are behind him, but to see what he's up to now, visit his Facebook page

Mitch O'Connell



Tim Engel, May 12, 2021


From:  Timothy Engel
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2021 1:40 PM
To: rick@ssqq.com
Subject: Dynamic Graphics story



I just came across your DG story on the internet. I was actually doing a quick search for a former employee and came across this. My name is Tim Engel. I was a former employee at DG from 89-90. I had just graduated college at Western Illinois University and got a job there as a designer. I designed the publications (brochures) that featured and promoted the clip art. As a young designer, it was a really cool place to work. Being around so many creatives was eye opening. There was an older guy and his sole job was to create typefaces! Amazing work he did with calligraphy styles and such. He would create a complete alphabet in pen and ink so it could be scanned and traced. I looked forward to going to work everyday (although my commute was an hour one way). Several people in your story i did get to meet and one in particular i didn't. Although only there a year, i did get to meet Milt Bartel the owner. I couldn't grasp all of the issues with DG and Multi-Ad at the time. I just knew Milt was about as happy as a man that there was when he entered the building. In a proud way. As for his daughter Kim, I am sure I met her but don't remember it.


Milt would have a company picnic for the employees each year and rumor had it that Frank was going to be there. Yes, i too was absolutely floored by getting to see and work with his artwork. For that matter, Mitch O'Connells as well. They were rock stars! I went to the picnic and asked people where he was. My supervisor then told me he was not coming. What a let down. If i remember right, I mingled for a bit with employees I had not met, grabbed some extra food and headed home to a softball game I had that night. Even working at DG they were secretive to the names of the artist but my supervisor was awesome and had told me Frank's name. Showed me his initials logo he put on all of his artwork.


I left DG a year later (loved working there). I was newly married and ended up taking a design position at my alma mater WIU which was much closer to where I lived. Ironically, I would use a lot of Frank's designs in the publications I used to promote our departments and University to incoming students. I even won an award that i submitted to DG for using their artwork. Before I left DG, my supervisor told me even then that the move would be good for me as they were expecting lots of changes. They were even leaving their current facility and moving to a different building across the river (would have added another 15 minutes to my drive) so my accepting my other job opportunity was a no brainer. Hard to believe but I have now been at WIU for over 30 years currently as the Publications manager.


I laughed a lot reading your story as even when i was there, photos were starting to become a thing, but i never thought they were anything decent. We could not use them anyway at WIU because we took real life images here of students and professors and could create our own stock images. We had skilled photographers that took any photo we needed. I still used the clip art until that died out and we eventually only used our photos. We still have some CD's though that contain images that we might pull from to create a logo or something small.


Anyway, sorry to ramble. I enjoyed your story. I can't remember the names of the customer service people when i was there, but if one of them was Patricia (the name does sound familiar), then she was a sweetheart because the ladies I dealt with were very pleasant. In fact, I would have been surprised that they would not have wanted to personally call you. BUT, your incident was much later then when I worked there too so may have been an entirely different person.


Since I deal in printing, it was also ironic that one of the printers I sent work to was Multi-Ad in Peoria. They ended up closing their doors after being bought out by another vendor several years ago. Same with the clip art, photography and printers and everything else in life... the large companies by up the small simply to eat the competition. Makes it impossible for new companies to form as the market is cornered.  


Your story was good food for the brain as it definitely got me thinking of a lot of the people I met in a short time there and how they influenced me even years later.  


Take care!

Tim Engel


Enjoyed hearing from you, Tim.  To me, Frank Fruzyna was a genius.  I am writing a book about Fate and I use his artwork ALL THE TIME to illustrate my chapters.  Every time I add one of his pictures, I have a big smile on my face.  In my opinion, Frank was a once in a generation talent.


Rick Archer 



Rick Archer's Note:  From time to time, I receive inquiries about my collection.  Please note I sold the entire collection to a local graphics artist in 2014.

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