When Book Jackets Were Bad, Hawkins's Were Good

Arthur Hawkins, Jr. (1903-1985) was the longtime toastmaster of New York Art Directors Club galas (he was also the Club’s president from 1945 to 1946). I saw him in that role for the first time at an awards evening at …

Design Is Everywhere

Hotel luggage labels are jewels in the graphic design crown. Mini posters, they rank up there among other miniatures for graphic and typographic virtuosity—razor blade wrappers, poster stamps, matchbook covers, etc. There’s no wonderful Latin-sounding word for collectors, but you …

Big Problem, Small Page

Big problems can be solved on small pages. A little book produced in 1919 titled Solving Advertising Art Problems, produced by Advertising Artists, Inc., a commercial art service agency in New York, was published to show commercial artists successful work—particularly …

What Number Brush Did You Use?

In the pre-computer days, comps were painted or drawn, or sometimes collaged, in rough form. Art school emphasized hand skills, lettering with brush and gouache. The following painted “sketches”—from a collection of over 50 found in LA by my colleague …

Great Album, Feeble Cover

You can’t tell an album by its cover. And you can never predict what Bob Dylan is really doing next. His latest album, Tempest, is amazing—possibly the best in decades (especially the title song, a rambling historical ballad about the Titanic …

Corn Pone and Politics

Cornstarch is a fine, powdery starch produced by grinding, washing, and drying the endosperm of the corn until it reaches that powdery state. Cornstarch is gluten-free. It is also a staple that has become a lightning rod in corn politics. …

Elegantissima!

Louise Fili is the most elegant woman I know—no exaggeration—so I had to smile when I learned the title of her monograph was Elegantissima (Princeton Architectural Press). She’s also the most Italian Italian-American I know. (She gets Italian cable!) Louise …

Still Life with Trash

Proving that one man’s trash is another man’s limited-edition silk-screen print, Dan Ibarra and Michael Byzewski, of the Minneapolis-based studio Aesthetic Apparatus, are putting a new spin on up-cycling. Seeking inspiration for a workshop, the duo, revered creators of band …

About to Explode . . .

On June 22 and 23, at 10 a.m., thousands of fireworks went up in auction. Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania, had what must be a day of the rockets red glare, with more cracker packs than you could light in …

Family Band's Kim Krans on Juggling Art, Music, E-Commerce, and More

Husband-and-wife team Kim Krans and Jonny Ollsin have no shortage of creative talent. Indeed, as proprietors of the always expanding online universe The Wild Unknown and cofounders of the appropriately named Family Band, they give off the impression that everything becomes …