• Steven Heller

Lifeboat: A Sampler of Graphic Ships

When was the last time you had to use a ship in a layout or design? Think hard. For me it was decades ago. But it’s always good to have a ship reference on hand. That way you’ll never miss the boat. Richard Wilde, the chair of SVA’s BFA Advertising and Graphic Design department, was recently cleaning out the old pedagogical closet—and, shiver me timbers, he found a treasure of ship spots, patterns, and posters.

This sampling of stock imagery was published in 1929 (the year of the stock market crash), in a folder titled “Ships in Decoration,” published by the School Arts Magazine (Davis Press). It is one of over a hundred teaching aids used in public school art classes, in the years when art class was viewed as necessary as math and literature. The examples show a variety of creative and commercial methods of making the art.

So rather than ship your child off to some trade school, this provided inspiration for soon-to-be Depression-era children, to opt into the arts. In fact, this was arguably the first step towards jobs in advertising and design.


For more Steven Heller, check out Inside the Business of Illustration—one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.

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