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Category Archives: Rubylith

Repeat Steps 1-5

Currently I’m in the process of correcting a stupid mistake — I accidentally trashed a design project and now have to rebuild it from scratch. D’oh!

I guess that makes it a good time to point out a couple of semi-old reads that I missed. First off is Michael Beirut’s Design Observer post on the design history of The New Yorker and the concept of “slow design”. Found this via The Minor Fall, The Major Lift and it’s really excellent. Second is this long-ass book review by Geoffrey O’Brien for Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era by Ken Emerson. Emerson’s book lies in my pile on the old night stand. Although his previous volume on Stephen Foster was somewhat dry, I’m chomping at the bit to read his take on the Brill Building songwriters (after I finish this one and this one).

Artistry In Motion

Hip to our love of midcentury art, friends of ours gave us a cool Christmas gift: Tin Lizzie: The Story of the Fabulous Model T Ford by Philip Van Doren Stern (Simon & Shuster, 1955). While the book itself is a pretty straightforward, whimsical look back at the Model T Ford phenomenon, what really stands out here are the illustrations from the great Charles Harper. Although I’ve posted about Mr. Harper’s work before, with this particular project you can see his exquisite sense of line and motion applied to the odd non-natural subject. Who knew that car parts could appear so alive? Check it out.
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All A-Bored

Via Drawn!, an autobiographical Peter Bagge comic of a disastrous Amtrak train trip. I always wanted to ride the rails across the U.S. Correction: I’d like to go back to 1957 and ride ride the rails across the U.S. While we’re at it, look at what Time magazine chose as the best comix of 2005.

Mushrooms and Bugs

Wonderful Christopher sent along two artsy-links today that I’d like to share. The first is this L.A. Times story on a unique photography project which was a collaboration between film location scouts and disadvantaged high school students. The resulting shots of the abandoned Ambassador Hotel are eerie, especially a lovely pic of mushrooms growing out of carpeting. The other is a New York Times article on a museum exhibit of models, drawings and other pieces from — synergy alert — Pixar films. Oh, how I would love to be in NYC to catch that one.

Whatever Happened To Illustration?

For my birthday last month, my parents bought me a copy of the 1920s volume in Taschen’s sumptuous All American Ads series. Paging through this hefty book, I’m amazed at all the gorgeous color illustration and hand-lettered typography that was utilized on a regular basis back then. Probably 90% of the ads collected use the power of art to sell their wares — and not just in an insignificant way, either. Tellingly, the art in these ads was rarely credited or signed. While it would have been a nice (but impossible) gesture for Taschen to have tracked down the artists names, I appreciate their efforts anyway. Two of the artists I do know are Coles Phillips and JC Leyendecker. Both specialized in impossibly elegant renderings of stylishly dressed figures — Phillips for the women, and Leyendecker for the men.

While I’m on the same track, do check out the American Art Archives. I could spend days perusing the cool old art there. It makes me long for the time when illustration was a true calling and not merely a sideline for fine artists.

Defiantly Modern


Biomorphic shapes and beautiful colors galore from Alvin Lustig (1915-1955), via Lustig’s designs are very simple and “of their time” in the best way possible. The variety of things he accomplished across such a brief career is amazing.