Goodby Silverstein & Partners AD, In-House Photographer Claude Shade Passes

By Patrick Coffee 

Sadly, Jeff Goodby sent a memo to all GS&P staffers today announcing that Senior Art Director and Photographer Claude Shade passed away last night at the age of 62.

Shade kept a relatively low personal profile both online and in real life, but he spent nearly twenty years with Goodby, serving as AD on many campaigns and even co-directing February’s “Sipsters” for Sonic.

He was a passionate cameraman who doubled as the agency’s in-house photographer, and you’ll find his credits on many of GS&P’s official pictures like the one that appeared in Adweek’s March profile piece.


Here’s Goodby’s memo.


Claude Shade, all Rick Moranis on the outside and Tom Waits on the inside, shaped this agency as much as anyone, including its founders.  We are saddened to report that he died quietly last evening, at the heartbreaking age of 62, with a small sample of the people he inspired by his side, and a much larger group stopping to look up at the stars and think of the way Claude might have put a pug or terrier constellation up there as we neared Christmas.

Claude was among the last of the five tool artists: a truly unique confluence of deep appreciation for the history of art and photography, of effortless photographic technique, of self-taught digital skills at the very highest level, of an eye that made everyday tasks into high art, and a disarming goofiness that seemed ready for anything, anytime.  He brought a now nearly extinct sense of craft and finish to everything he did that often made things exasperatingly close to deadline.  Yet they were always worth the wait.

He never said no.  And thus he died with 11,647 open projects.

Rich and I first met Claude in 1997.  His resume said he was the creative director of Kodak at Ogilvy in Rochester, New York, yet his presence was unlike any creative director we’d ever seen.  Then we opened his portfolio.  It was unusual, breathtaking, inventive, with a use of gorgeous, sophisticated photography that was all his own.  We knew it was crazy, but we just had to have him here.

It was a moment that shaped the company from that moment forward.  Claude thought he could learn and do anything.  And he made us all think that way too.  We became a company of makers, and still are today.

He photographed cars and dogs and ice cream and milk bottles and, especially, people at the highest professional level.  He shot beautiful films.  His graphic design was totally unique (look at his stunning “Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass” posters).  He touched more unforgettable things at our company than you can ever imagine.

Claude grew up on a German military base and spoke German fluently.  He came to the U.S. as a child and, if you can picture it, eventually served in the U.S. Army.  It was a desperate and perilous time.

The word is overworked, but it is an apt one for Claude:  He was and is beloved.  He needed no last name.  Hundreds of people think of him as an indelible influence and close friend.  There will no doubt be dozens of stories told about him today, and in the years to come.

We were never able to come up with exactly the right title for Claude.  He defied such description.  One day, however, thinking of the lovable but naughty Navajo character, we pronounced him, “The Coyote.”  It just seemed right.

The Coyote is quiet today.  First time ever.  No one likes it.