Saturday, June 08, 2002

Local auto posters get global status

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        For 23 years, a Madisonville design firm has transformed luxury cars into high art.

        Slaughter & Slaughter's posters promoting the Arthritis Foundation Ohio River Valley Chapter's annual Concours d'Elegance have become status symbols in their own right. They are on display internationally at classic car museums and auto theme restaurants, and grace the homes of car collectors.

[photo] Partners in business and life, Jim and Susan Slaughter run a design firm which designs internationally known posters featuring classy cars for the Concours d'Elegance.
(Tony Jones photo)
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        “We don't know how the posters get to these places, but people tell us they have seen them,” said Susan Slaughter, the firm's co-founder and president. “We've been told they have been in the Museum of Modern Art, the Porsche Museum and the Mercedes Museum.”

        This year's piece — promoting this weekend's primary Arthritis Foundation fund-raiser — showcases the sensuous curves of a 1935 Jaguar SSI, owned by Ron and Sonja Halbauer of Lawrenceburg. Its bold design is the result of Ms. Slaughter's collaboration with her husband and partner, Jim.

        One year's poster car was a gull-wing Mercedes, seemingly poised for flight. Other posters have featured to-die-for Ferraris as well as brash young race cars.

        “The poster always shows that year's featured marque, which this year is Jaguar,” said Sidney Wittenberg, president of the Arthritis Foundation Ohio River Valley Chapter.

        The Slaughters' work has provided a unity of design through the years, as the upscale car show has grown from a car fanciers' garden party to a major draw, and moved from Indian Hill to Ault Park.

        “Through all the changes, their work has presented a consistent face to the public,” Ms. Wittenberg said. “The posters are top quality, very attractive. They're sought-after by car enthusiasts.“

    What: Concours d'Elegance, showcasing more than 200 rare, classic and exotic cars
    When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
    Where: Ault Park
    Admission: $15 adults, $5 under 12
    Proceeds: Benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Ohio River Valley Chapter
        Ms. Slaughter became involved with the project when she was a board member of the Cincinnati Industrial Advertisers' Club in the 1970s.

        “We did a project for a charity each year, and one year, it was the Arthritis Foundation, to promote memorial giving for Mother's and Father's days. We did bill stuffers, brochures, point-of-purchase displays, window displays downtown.”

        Somehow, Ms. Slaughter and her husband found themselves volunteering to take on a poster to advertise the Concours d'Elegance. Their first poster design was used in 1980, the event's third year. The Hennegan Company donated paper and printing services.

        “From there, we've done it every year, and Hennegan has printed it,” Mr. Slaughter said. “The common features are a photo of the car, the Arthritis Foundation logo, and the size, 20 inches by 30 inches. We alternate horizontal and vertical.”

        “It's variations on a theme,” Ms. Slaughter explained. “We take the same elements and come up with innumerable numbers of designs that are going to work, but keep that same design quality.”

        The couple are proud of bringing that kind of varied consistency to their other work. Since founding their company in 1970, they have designed everything from manufacturers' instruction booklets and sales brochures to textbooks. They use visuals to reinforce the client's identity and to organize information in an accessible fashion.

        The Slaughters' professional services have expanded into Web site design, combining text and graphics.

        “Our goal is to create Web sites that get great search engine results,” Ms. Slaughter said.

        Slaughter & Slaughter is at 4307 Erie Ave., 561-5121.


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