Friday, August 19, 2011

Book!s and More

Silkscreened title on cover of Book!s, designed by John Alcorn. Below are 4 interior pages.

I have no idea of the name of this funny words font from Books!, but I'll just call it Sixties Hallmark Card. Much of the Hallmark greeting card style of that era was heavily influenced by the Push Pin Studio culture which John Alcorn helped to create.

John Alcorn 
(1935-1992) is a member of an exclusive league of gifted illustrators who happen to also excel at design and typography, and his career crossed many varied paths. He worked briefly at Esquire magazine before joining the celebrated Push Pin Studios team of Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Edward Sorel and Reynold Ruffins in 1956 and left his indelible mark on much of the Push Pin published works. In 1958 he joined Lou Dorfsman at CBS where he helped to define the brand of the iconic CBS eye logo. His accomplishments in the publishing world were many, including dozens of book cover designs for Rizzoli in Milan, and his playful, invented letterforms and illustrations adorned many children's books. In 1962 he illustrated and designed Murray McCain's book, Books!which was selected as one of the AIGAs best fifty books of the year (50 Books | 50 Covers) in 1963. This book was followed up in 1964 with the children's book, Writing! In addition to book design, he went on to design posters and opening credits for several of Federico Fellini's legendary films. 

      Clearly, Alcorn helped to define much of the graphic look of the 1960s and 70s, influencing everyone from Mad Men advertisers, album cover designers, Hallmark card artists and numerous magazine art directors. Even Peter Max seemingly found inspiration in his work. He's not alone—as a young artist in the 60s, I myself, can recall being heavily influenced by Alcorn's flamboyant style as well—yet I never knew who to credit until now. Not until I picked up the book, Books! and did a little google-sleuthing, and I'm glad I did. Below are more images of his work, but you really must visit the John Alcorn Gallery archive to see far more. However, don't leave there without taking a look at this 1956 photo.

From Jan Wahl's book, Pocahontas in London, 1967, Delacorte Press.
::Via Oange's Flickrstream

John Alcorn's ironic instructions on how to create a Dadaist poem. Published in the Push Pin Graphic, No. 11, December 1957. Coincidentally, I came across a similar concept in a video on Beat poet and writer William Borroughs this past week.
::Via the Container List: Milton Glaser Archives.

Alcorn's Push Pin Monthly Graphic cover, About Fishing issue, 1957.
::Via Animalarium

Poster design of Alcorn's for Fellini's 1973 film, Amarcord.
::Via VinMag

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