05 July 2011

Images = 1000 Words?

"Four Roses" Whiskey for a  Perfect Manhattan - artwork by John Falter -
the original 1942 magazine spreads also contained compelling text.
(Click to enlarge image - it rocks.)

Commercial Artwork Speaks

With the advent of the Industrial Age and the inventions of chromolithography and offset printing, many artists we value highly now first developed their distinctive styles as commercial artists, supporting themselves by designing advertising posters, packet labels, greeting cards, magazine and book illustrations, even toys and board games:  Parrish, Erte', Cheret, Lautrec, Mucha, Baxter, Gow, Shepard, Potter, Cappiello, Falter.

Admit it:  isn't it difficult to imagine anyone collecting the advertising artwork on today's gelatine boxes, cookie packets, or Yahoo banners?

Let's get extreme -- when your target audience encounters images representing you and your products/services, are they enlightened ("Okay, now I get it."), intrigued ("Interesting, I want to know more about this."), aroused (Wow, this is amazing!), or are they so underwhelmed they'd flatline an EEG?

Are your images memorable or forgettable?  If your images are memorable, are they memorable in a positive way or a negative way?  (Crawling ants, anyone?)

The small gallery that follows is a miniscule tribute to the enduring creativity represented in vintage commercial artwork.  As you review these images, ask yourself:  in 25, 50, 100 years, who will remember or cherish your marketing images?  Will your images hold any value as collectibles, art, or exemplars of the Digital Age?  If your images were proudly toted by your great-great-great-great grandniece to the 2050 Antiques Roadshow, would the appraisers offer a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down?  Would anyone laud your images as benchmarks or trendsetters of form, content, context, or persuasion?

Poster by Mucha

Peek Freans Cookie Label

Poster by Maxwell Parrish

Espresso by L. Capiello

Label for Arrow Shirts
Ovaltine Magazine Ad

Over the years, I've acquired an eclectic international array of label, poster, and magazine art.  When my own creative inspiration is muddled, nothing beats a stroll through these long-ago commercial images to sharpen my mind.

A Memorable Favourite - Ovaltine Artwork

One particularly favourite product whose images I've collected is Ovomaltine.  Ovomaltine -- its original Swiss name -- is available around the world.  If you live in the U.S. or U.K., you  know the product as Ovaltine.  In portions of Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim, you can find the beverage mix in the creator's original formula (with egg protein powder, more barley malt and less sugar, a/k/a The European Formula) and in products ranging from iced treats to candies and throat lozenges.
Ovomaltine's British manufactory offered travellers picture postcards of the
Ovaltine Factory and Dairy Farm.  Although the images below date from the '20's,
it looked much the same in the early 70's.

I was disappointed to learn last year the management at the Ovaltine Hertfordshire factor had sold the beautiful Ovaltine factory, literally lock, stock, and barrel, in 2002.  Almost 1000 employees from Watford and the surrounding villages lost their jobs; the battle to preserve the factory and grounds as an historical trust was also lost.  The factory sat fallow for several years.  Then, in 2006-2007, shortly before the banking and property bubble burst, a developer bought the main building and converted it to loft condos, keeping only portions of the original Art Deco facade, floors, and walls.

Today, it looks like this, a shadow of its magical, majestic self, with more than a third of the units still empty.

The bottom portion of this advert includes drawings of the
Ovaltine Factory, Park, & Model Dairy.

As a child, a cup of Ovaltine before bedtime was a prized treat.  My mum, as her cure-all and preventive for whatever ailments might beset us during our many travels and travails, stashed a tin of Ovomaltine into the luggage and stocked a jar in the home kitchen pantry.

As an adult, I re-discovered Ovaltine:  its beautiful legacy of images, carefully crafted since the late 1890's to appeal to a plethora of generations and lifestyles.

How many of us cyberslingers are creating commercial images and artwork with such penetration, appeal, and longevity?

Lo siento, amigos, that is a topic for another day.   ;-) 

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