With books migrating to pads and pods this maybe a moot point. But before designed book jackets, book covers were the primary illustrative and typographical surface on a book. The photographs of the covers taken from “Arts and Crafts Book Covers” (in the book over 90 in all), makes this an essential document of a fertile creative period.
Visual Editions has been exploring the rocky terrain of current and future books – design, delivery and platform. Their most recent release, Where You Are is a book of maps and website that collects writing (non-fiction and fiction) and visuals (drawings, photographs, paintings) and tests the common notions of what a map is.
What’s fun about looking at old cigarette advertising is how guileless they were. Take this advertisement for Omar Cigarettes. The portrait of the gent on the links who’s played a “bully round” looks, well, like the epitome of an anti-tobacco message. The linkage between the headline “When a Cigarette Tastes Sweetest” and the wizened granddad is off the mark.
Or would they? In the 1930s, graphic or industrial designers wouldn’t think twice about designing cigarette packages. Now, it is the number one no-no. Anyone with a social conscience would cut off their right (or left depending on their orientation) hand before contributing to the danger of others. But back then, before health facts and warnings, cigarette packs were well-designed by some masters, like Raymond Loewy’s iconic Lucky Strike bullseye.
Look closely at these wonderful book jackets. Now, look again. Can you tell a book by its cover? More to the point, can you tell a woman’s bag by its book cover. What?!! These are not books but handbags with redrawn and painted covers based on original book cover designs and found in the various collections and accessory lines by French clothing designer Olympia Le-Tan, who, for those who know the work, is the daughter of the illustrator Pierre Le-Tan.
For all the decades I’ve known the great Gary Panter as cartoonist, comics artist, painter, shadow puppeteer, scenic designer, light designer, author, graphic novelist and all around great talent, I had no idea he had a band. His psych pop band’s new 2 LP vinyl gate-fold package album art from Feeding Tube Records in Northampton, MA is titled “Honeycomb of Chakras.”