Taschen’s latest mammoth volume, Fritz Kahn by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz is about a German doctor, educator, popular science writer and information graphics pioneer whose work translating the human organism into accessible human metaphors and analogies, has all but fallen into oblivion. Here is an excerpt.
Sam Roberts was working in advertising and living in Stoke Newington, London, when he noticed the fading remains of advertising that was once painted by hand directly onto the brickwork of buildings. He’s now the master of the Ghostsigns website and recently published a book on the Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie, Cambodia. I asked him to walk us through the routes he’s taken to find the roots of vintage commercial and hand-painted signs.
The book industry may be in flux, but there is no shortage of support for beautiful books at the Furthermore Grants in Publishing program, funded by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which gives modest grants for nonfiction in support of writing, research, editing, design, indexing, photography, illustration and printing and “significant visual books.”
As part of the Festival of Tolerance in Sarajevo, Mirko Ilic organized the opening of the “Antimasonic Posters from 1941-42″ Show in Sarajevo at the Galerija 11/07/95 from Oct 24 until November 4th. Anti-semitic caricatures haven’t lost their potency. These hate posters were created to announce the Nazi anti-masonic show in Belgrade in 1941.
Chalk wipes off with water or disappears with time. The racist image, however, isn’t as easily erased. It’s a stain — a human stain. The artifacts of institutional racism in the United States are apparent in many vintage advertisements, comic books, cartoons, product packages, board games, novelty toys, picture postcards and every other kind of popular art or entertainment from representation of minstrel shows to radio’s Amos and Andy.
Next to cash register receipts, common price tags are arguably the most taken for granted pieces of graphic design. Many today are rendered by computer, so why bother showering them with respect. Some are, of course, handwritten without the flair of a true letterer. And most are stock designs that come from a few different business stationery outlets that sell various merchant necessities.
In 1952 Robert Kretschmer, former Display Manager of the Wilber Rogers and Ann Lewis Department Stores, wrote a book on “Window and Interior Display: The Principles of Visual Merchandizing.” Funnily, little has changed since then, even in this digital age. Window display design (and window dressers), or as he called them “the displayman,” is still highly valued in the marketing arena.
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.