I confess to being a complete sucker for a good bit of mid-century graphic design. It is so confident in itself - so precise. The colours are crisp, the message is clear and the future looks sharp.
The watercolour and ink designs for posters, book covers and advertising, are a type of art form that evolved quickly, and promptly became obsolete as digital design took over. I think it is this very sense of a ‘moment in time’ that I love. The moment that these types of graphic design became irrelevant, after such a boom time of advertising, they became desirable as 'art'. They are snapshots of social commentary about an era that appeared to have everything to gain.
As decorative items, they are wonderful. Bright, specific in subject and funny, and not as frenetic as modern day marketing. They are neat, staying in the lines whilst being outward facing and bold. The images and the designs are considered, and designed to be desirable.
Art and graphic design have always been closely intertwined and artists working as illustrators or designers form part of the history of advertising. Many well-known artists in the first half of the twentieth-century regularly worked as illustrators for books, advertising and marketing. In a pre-digital world, there was perhaps more overlap between the skills of the artist and the needs of the design industry. In a previous blog post we mention the artists Laura Knight and Anne Hickmott, who both produced poster designs for the London Underground.
Whether it's book covers or other advertising material, they are, in their nature, very subject specific. This means they will make connections with specific people for different reasons, and I find this peculiarity enjoyable to picture. What element of this biscuit box graphic is calling to its new owner?
Is it the glamour of Broadway, the industrial heritage of Liverpool, the little glimpse of the comfort of a luxury biscuit in the everyday or is it for someone called Jacob? What is this person connecting with?
The lead image in this blog post, is a watercolour poster design for a book exhibition. It is by Roy Carnon who was an illustrator for advertising agencies. He later worked with Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and George Lucas creating film visuals.
The book jacket pictured below is amazing. It seems to suggest that you travel to the Balkans at your peril, where locals armed with scythes and scarfs track your lonely progress. Alex Jardine was a prolific artist and illustrator. He specialised in book covers including illustrating a number of crime novels. He also illustrated his own books which are predominantly about fishing. The typography is immaculate, which makes the geek in me very happy!
I'm sure we will be sharing artist / illustrators / designers in future updates. We have a page for artworks for sale that we are have categorised as design.
In a world where your zoom backdrop is a stage set, these little gems can help set your scene.