When I was a little kid, there was a TV show called Circus Boy starring Mickey Dolenz, later of the Monkees. He played an orphan who was adopted by the circus after his parents died in a fall during their trapeze performance. I always dreamed of living that life, and running off to join the circus, but never expected them to actually come looking for me. When they asked me to do the program cover and poster for 1981, it was a childhood fantasy come true. I wound up doing 5 posters for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus over the years. Four were the actual posters, one was used as an insert in the program to promote one of their starring acts.
They would give me loads of photos and slides to use as reference, and a list of the acts they wanted to see on the poster. Other than that, I pretty much had complete freedom. Now I hear that the circus will be closing in May, after 146 years of operation. Falling attendance, high operating costs, and the loss of the elephants due to protests from animal rights groups, were the main causes. Kids just don’t dream of running away to join the circus nowadays. So the circus is leaving town, but what a history they leave behind.
I wish I had better images to post, but these were all I could find online, and my programs are all in storage.