Monday, April 29, 2013

Design Wrap

The history of fruit wrappers dovetails nicely with the early practice of graphic design long before this term was ever coined. The practice of wrapping fruit with tissue papers "began as a means of controlling the spread of fungal decay" according to Maurice Rickards in his book Encyclopedia of Ephemera. They were originally introduced for wrapping citrus fruits like oranges and lemons in the late 19th century, but were later adopted for apricots, tomatoes and other produce. Soon growers discovered that these thin square paper wrappers could be effective marketing tools when printed with their identification. A typical wrapper would include the growers name, the brand name, the country of origin and an illustration. They were normally printed in three to five colors on large rotary presses with rubber plates; accounting for imprecise registration and loss of detail, similar to the printing found on old matchbooks. This naive printing style might have been considered less desirable to some; particularly in the wake of the artistic printing movement which was also ongoing in the late 19th century. However their attraction must have appealed to many people at that time, or their collections would never have survived this long. This particularly nice collection happens to belong to Didier and Gabriel, who are cousins and passionate collectors from France. They began collecting the citrus wrappers in 2006 and have accumulated nearly 15000 already. Their site Legufrulabelofolie is great fun and updated frequently, but proceed with caution. I would include all of their wrappers here if I could.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Lifetimes of Achievement

The American Institute of Graphic Arts announced eight lifetime achievement in design awards earlier this year. The prestigious awards went out to John Bielenberg, William Drenttel and Jessica Helfand, Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, Stefan Sagmeister, Lucille Tenazas, and Wolfgang Weingart. As part of the presentation of the 2013 AIGA Medal, the AIGA commissioned short videos about each of the winners. It is difficult to single out any of these winners, so take a look at all the other videos here. (Spoiler alert: Sagmeister arranges all of his books by color on the shelf.) 

From the AIGA: 
The medal of the AIGA, the most distinguished in the field, is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of graphic design and visual communication. The contribution may be in the practice of graphic design, teaching, writing or leadership of the profession. ... Individuals who are honored may work in any country, but the contribution for which they are honored should have had a significant impact on the practice of graphic design in the United States.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Killer B's

It's Spring and time to bring out some of my favorite killer B's that have been hibernating in my archives for too long. The first B was illustrated by stamp engraver Martin Mörck for the Bucamel wine label. Designed by Mucho of Barcelona for Bodega Tierras de Orgaz. 

An 8x10" pen illustration of a rustic B found on Etsy. Signed "Coyne" 1975, and just one letter of an entire rustic alphabet set featured there last year. 

B Signage
::From Brown Dress with White Dots. No credits listed.

Specimen de Caracteres, circa 1920.

U&lc magazine, Volume 20, No.2, 1993. Design credits thank Woody Pirtle, John Klotnia and Ivette Montes de Oca of Pentagram Design for their contributions to this issue, but no specific mention of the cover designer. This issue has many articles about book collecting, book jacket design, 20th century type specimen books, and newly released childrens' books.

Circus matchbox label from Russia. 
Doh! I've just been informed this B is actually a cyrillic killer V. Regardless, it delights me just the same.

Greeting card and screenprinted poster by Anthony Oram.

Honeycomb B from Jessica Hische's Daily Drop Cap killer promotion.

B in lights by Jeff Rogers

Illustration on book cover by Paul Thurby. Available as a print here.

A rustic pastoral B to celebrate Spring. I can almost see the bees humming.

B. Blumenthal & Company button gauge from the Button Art Museum.

Pocket Protectors

The Pocketector from the Plastic Service Co. of Los Angeles. Only 15 cents.
Pocket protectors used to be a badge of honor primarily for white-collar American male office workers. They were designed to neatly tuck into a breast shirt pocket to protect it from ink stains, and store pens, pencils, and small tools. There are mixed opinions about who exactly invented the first pocket protector, but Boing Boing science writer Steven Leckart reports that the first pocket protector patent was issued in 1903 to Himan C. Dexter. Other pocket aficionados recognize engineer Hurley Smith who developed the "pocket shield" in 1943. He was awarded a patent for his invention in 1947. 

No sooner was the pocket protector developed when enterprising young promoters raced to emblazon company logos on the flap extending outside the pocket. This collection below is but a small glimpse to be seen at Dr. John Pojman's gallery of pocket protectors. At this time, he has over 1200 in his collection. It is where all pocket protectors eventually go to retire.