Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Extraordinary COLORS of Stamps

(Above) 1898 jet black $1 stamp. THIS stamp is one of the most beautiful stamps I have ever seen.

(Above) 1869 carmine and black 90¢ stamp. Add to an already beautiful stamp the cancellation mark, and if the gods of chance are working that day—you have something special.

(Above) 1940 ultramarine 5¢ stamp.

(Above) 1914 deep claret 50¢ stamp. These color names... they aren’t mine. These are stamp collector terms for describing color. Deep claret... love it. I may try to use that term today. Oh, what about the design of this one. Wow!

(Above) 1929 orange yellow 10¢ stamp.

(Above) 1919 apple green 13¢ stamp.

(Above) 1890 carmine red 2¢ stamp. Washington behind bars.

(Above) 1887 vermillion 3¢ stamp

(Above) 1873 yellow 2¢ stamp

(Above) 1923 brown violet 12¢ stamp

(Above) 1903 light blue 24¢ stamp. LOVE this!

I THINK ANY DESIGNER WILL APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY of these early U.S. postage stamps. While design is what many many in our field talk about when it comes to stamps, the unique colors are something else to consider. There is a rich beauty to these color palettes that I haven’t seen in a while. Of course, looking at stamps magnified to this scale creates entirely new ways of seeing. After all, stamps are tiny—the size of your thumbprint. I picked these out from hundreds being auctioned—just for the color. Enjoy the scale. Enjoy the color. Enjoy this day.

These stamps were part of the 2009 Heritage Auction Galleries Inaugural Signature Stamp Auction. Heritage Auction Galleries is the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer.

An AM repost from 2/06/09.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Antique Classroom Posters

THESE COOL GRAPHICS ARE EARLY 20th CENTURY educational plates from Belgium, (actually stone lithographs) originally attached to two dowel rods as pull-down classroom posters. They're huge—about 4’ x 6’ and these (or others) can be found at Voila! Art for the Modern Eye at 518 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90003. Phone: 323-954-0418; E-mail:

An AM repost from 1/1/09

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mark Ryden is a God

The Birth
Stump Baby and Nurse Sue
Goodbye Bear and Grey Animal
Rosie’s Tea Party
The Ringmaster

So here I am, sitting here listening to the great Tom Waits sing “Chocolate Jesus” and I start thinking about the painter Mark Ryden. Ryden lives in California (natch!) and his imagery emerges and takes shape from his love of fables, deities, gods, fairy tales, innocence gone bad, truth and falsehoods, 1950s Dick and Jane, dead presidents, bees, dolls, candy, monkeys, big-eyed kids from hell, big-eyed kids from heaven, Tiki culture, Shoney’s Big Boy, puppies, prehistoric stuff, devils, angels, wood nymphs, blood, meat (a whole story in itself) dreams, nightmares, numerology, pop culture, rock stars, religions and other alternate realities. See why Ryden is a god:;

Ryden’s work is represented by Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles and Porterhouse Fine Art Editions in Denver. All work is © Mark Ryden.

An AM repost from 12/04/08

Sunday, July 10, 2011

David Butler: Self-Taught Master

(Above) Seven Headed Dragon with Green Spots - 36” x 26”
(Above) Mermaid - 10” x 23.75”
(Above) Flying Elephant Whirligig - 18.75” x 32”
(Above) Fanciful Animal - 32” x 27”
(Above) Man, Fish, Rooster - 20” x 15.5”

TO MY KNOWLEDGE, there has never been a full-scale museum retrospective of self-taught artist David Butler (1898-1997). Perhaps someone will correct me if I am wrong. His work is great. An entire room of Butler’s work would bring much needed scholarship and understanding to this man’s artistic life. Butler’s understanding of form, his keen knowledge of spatial relationships, color, and sheer visual inventiveness is comparable to Matisse and his cut-outs. His repertoire of whimsical imagery, such as dragons, mermaids, people and animals of all kinds, not to mention the fact that much of his work was kinetic (dependent 0m wind), or designed to play with light (as with his window coverings)—only added to his original, inventive nature as an artist.

Mr. Butler lived in St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana and was an environmental art builder. He would often work sitting on the ground with the tin between his legs, cutting the shapes with a modified ax head and hammer. His modest home and yard was covered in decorative tin cutouts, done as a way to bring beauty to his yard when the flowers died in the winter time.

Butler's work can be found at Gilley’s Gallery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana— 225.922.9225. Some of the the biographical facts above is from Gilley’s web site.

An AM repost from 1-3-09.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Demonic Tots in Advertising

(Above) Official caption: Bread's better ’cause it’s fresher in cellophane (1954)

My caption: “…and after we eat this Darlene, we’ll go kill your father!”

(Above) Pillsbury Cake Mixes, 1954

My caption: “…we eat this, in remembrance of the father, the son, and the Pillsbury dough boy.”

(Above) Baked Ham; National Restaurant Association Magazine, 1957

My caption: “Remember Pippi, we only look at the food. We NE-VER touch it.”

(Above) Post-Toasties, 1958

My caption: “Watch his little expression change when he finds out there’s NO prize at the bottom of the box.”

(Above) Stokely Van Kamp, 1953

My caption: [announcer VO ] “Hey Kids! When Chucky’s not killing grown-ups, he eats Van Kamp’s TENDERONI!”

I came across some very ODD 1950s ads on a website called Plan 59. Plan 59 is a group with a web site out of Fairfax, VA that sells hi-res images from the 1940s and 50s for varied, re-purposed advertising, editorial or personal uses today. So, here are a few key selections for you to enjoy.

Reposted from December 28, 2008.

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