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Smoke Signals

The former Soviet Union and Peoples’ Republic of China have used cigarette packages to commemorate heroes and national virtues. Explore several designs from both nations that blend political symbolism and cigarettes.

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Hangin’ With the Hang Tags

Hang tags aren’t some neo-punk rock group or a new form of graffiti. I love hang tags, so here are a few more to show from France in my irregular series of labels “with strings attached.”

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Those Confounding Maps

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.

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Smoking’s Poster Boy 1900

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.

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What Designers Won’t Do (Today)

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.

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Book Bag

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.

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Non-hit Psych Pop Redux

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.”

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The Art of Everyday

“One person’s garbage is the next person’s art.” “Art is in the eye of the beholder.” “The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and …