Postmodern Graphic Design’s Midwest Routes

The route that postmodern graphic design took can be traced from the wellspring of eclecticism, from Push Pin Studios in the late ’50s and ’60s to the “Michaels” of San Francisco to the Minneapolis offices of The Duffy Group onto the desk of Charles Spencer Anderson.

There’s not one specific artifact that cements this claim, but there is one that sums it all up. The 1988 spiral bound French Paper Speckletone sample book, featuring the work that put Duffy and company on the national map, designed by Anderson and Duffy expresses the colorful optimism of the late 1980s and the trajectory of the designers’ distinct careers.

Speckletone was one of the early recycled papers and thanks to Anderson’s cheerful, retro design language French Paper’s promotions were exceedingly popular with young designers. This is an excerpt from the promotion that paved the route.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I still have this piece as well as a number of other great French/CSA/Duffy pieces as well. Great stuff, very inspirational. With our new “digital age” I miss getting those print promotions.

  2. I saw this come through the mail when I was a typesetter at CBS Television print advertising and I grabbed one of the copies and never let go. One of the coolest pieces I’ve ever seen, and it turned me on to The Duffy Group and, by extension, to Tom McElligott and the whole Minneapolis ad scene.

    For most of the 1990s (where I was a copywriter at NBC Television print), every time I wrote a trade ad, I asked myself “What would Fallon McElligott do?” Brilliant stuff that holds up well as it ages.