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Ads with Strings Attached

There is a proud history to be told of the “hang-tag,” those printed bits of heavy paper or board attached with string, ribbon, wire or plastic that attaches to the product in some way. Unlike most forms of print ephemera, …

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Teeny Weeny Graphic Design

I am not a phillumenist. Although I like collecting matchbox labels. Phillumeny is the act of hoarding them (rather than lighting them). My interest is purely in what they say about graphic design.

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Sweet Type: Candy Packaging

The sweetest typography has long been found on candy packaging (candy bars and boxes). Every trick in the box was used, including shadows, outlines, embossed, debossed, metallic, Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Imperial style. Here (below) are a few I …

Matchless Originals from Japan

These are original sketches for Japanese match box labels created in the 1930s by an anonymous graphic artist. Rendered in black and white, they were meant to print in a single color. Some are drawn and lettered on slick paper …

The Vintage Speedball Textbook

I once found a set of Speedball pen nibs as a kid. I was familiar with conventional pen and ink usage, but had never seen nibs like this before. It wasn’t until taking a calligraphy course in college (with Professor …

Copertine Bellissime

As a fond farewell to Italy, I’ll switch from pop culture and history to a contemporary talent. Silvana Amato is one of the most enticing book cover and jacket designers in Rome. Her work reveals a passion for craft and …

I Am, Therefore I Buy

Etsy has a Holiday Shop in New York’s Soho neighborhood. So, to all you gift buyers and givers and takers: Ho Ho Ho! Hustle on down to 131 Greene Street for an opportunity to sample and savor designer “bespoke” products and objects …

The Fab Four's Surreal Christmas

Want a surreal Xmas treat? The Beatles’ annual Christmas records were dada, punk, and hipster rolled into one crazily irreverent, hilariously spoken and musical concoction produced on flexi discs and mailed to members of the official mop top fan-clubs in …