When 14-year-old Jim Harrison climbed atop the scaffold in the summer of 1951 to paint his first Coca-Cola sign, little did he know that he was beginning a lifelong love for the Coca-Cola trademark and launching a career as one of American's foremost landscape artists.
Through the years Coca-Cola remained dear to Jim's heart, and he became an avid collector of old Coca-Cola signs. His studio is lined with a vast array of this collection, many of which serve as inspirations in his paintings. "For almost a century Coca-Cola has been one of the world's best known American products," says Jim. "Coca-Cola's trademark has been a favorite subject of mine throughout my life as an artist, beginning with my earliest days as an assistant sign painter in rural South Carolina."
In 1975 he painted a country store that still had visible one of the old faded signs Mr. Cornforth and Jim had painted 20 years earlier. The painting was put into print and "Disappearing America" was released as a limited edition print at $40. It became an immediate success, selling out all 1,500 prints in the edition. This was possibly the first Coca-Cola collector print ever put on the market, and has since soared to a secondary market price of more than $3,000 today.
"I now feel that I have come full circle," says Jim. "Working with Coca-Cola to capture the trademark along with images of the past is a natural partnership. I am as excited about this work as I was many years ago when I crawled up on that first Coca-Cola wall with my mentor Mr. J.J. Cornforth." Since entering into a licensee relationship with Coca-Cola in 1995, he has continued developing limited edition prints learning the trademark. He has also begun developing other products with the trademark, including canvas transfers, trays, sun catchers, and calendars.