The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur is a fascintating article in The Atlantic by William Deresiewicz on the history and market forces that have transformed craft based artists and artisans into business facing creatives.
National Geographic has a fantastic blog called Found. “FOUND is a curated collection of photography from the National Geographic archives.” The above image from 1957 of a replica of the Mayflower sailing into New York Harbour is wonderful. The mash up of historical air and sea technologies in a single frame is awesome. (via KR)
Having a child means endlessly buying clothes. Why I have not abandoned my career to take advantage of this constantly rejuvenating and replenishing market says something I guess. Anyway… My son was getting fitted for shoes and I found myself staring down at the ubiquitous shoe measurer dingus and it occurred to me for the first time that that dingus is a real product with a story and I noticed that it has a name: “Brannock Device.” Oh joy! What a name for such a thing that I have known my whole life but never considered! You can read about the product which dates to the late 20s on their site here. It’s interesting to consider what an inexact science shoe fitting was until the time of its invention and therefore what a profound impact it has had on the mass production of shoes by standardizing measurement and providing consumer demographic data to manufacturers via retailers.
Also, super thumbs up to the web designers for Brannock for that animation on the home page nav hover. Pretty sweet.
I fell in love with the work of Rudolph Modley when I randomly found a book he illustrated, The United States; A Graphic History, in a used bookstore. My enthusiasm about Modley’s graphic design work lead to my discovery of his study under the more ground breaking Austrian philosopher and sociologist Otto Neurath. Modley’s work in the US by his company Pictograph is strongly and unquestionably influenced by the work of Neurath’s firm Isotype. Some web research suggests a rift developed between the two; some argue the sociological depth of Neurath’s work in Europe gave way to more superficial application of his graphic developments under Modley in the US. Another surprise in the history of the American market place. Whatever their differences, they can both be thanked for our collective abilities to make it into the appropriately gendered restroom. (No time to link everything today– I know, poor scholarship. Do your own googling.) Here’s a side by side, Neurath in the top two images and Modley below (it’s all about the feet!):
The Internet Archive has a digitized “City of Brooklyn; A Half Century’s Progress” from 1887 which brings “together in such convenient and permanent form such data relating to the merchantile, manufacturing, and other business interests of the beautiful city of Brooklyn, and the men whose brains, capital, and energy have been and are the inspiration of them, as are worth being preserved.” Needless to say it’s a real page turner.
This is a promotional reel for a concept snow vehicle from 1929. It’s kind of mesmerizing and fascinating to watch the lateral rotation of the pontoons translate to forward propulsion via such a simple surface treatment. The reel is long, and the music is an odd choice, but it demonstrates a pretty interesting and capable means for snow and ice transport. It’s also a great hack of existing technology.
This film is Saul Bass‘s 1969 pitch for updating and unifying the brand of the Bell telephone system. Bass’s proposal was accepted almost in its entirety making it the largest rebranding project ever at the time. The breadth of the proposal, tackling everything from the ubiquitous logo to the representational and behavioral needs of the workers and their clothing is mind blowing. Take a half hour and watch this. You can watch the film a little larger on the AT&T site here.
Photographs of the early American West by 19th century photographer Timothy O’Sullivan as featured in The Daily Mail. The caption for the above image reads:
“Industrial revolution: The mining town of Gold Hill, just south of Virginia City, Nevada, in 1867 was town whose prosperity was preserved by mining a rare silver ore called Comstock Lode. On the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, Clarence King insisted that his men dress for dinner every evening and speak French, and O’Sullivan had no difficulty fitting in.”