The Post About Nathan, Andy, and Shoes

One of my favorite people from the old days at AIGA was Nathan Gluck. I never quite understood Nathan’s role. He seemed to be the archivist and keeper of the stories of AIGA’s history. When I met him, he must have been in his 70s. Nathan was like your friendly uncle who knew all the family gossip. When I’m older, I plan on writing a tell-all book. By then everyone Nathan gossiped about will be long gone, and I won’t care if everyone hates me.

We were all star-struck by the fact that Nathan worked with Andy Warhol on his shoe drawings. It was hard to imagine lovable and disheveled Nathan as part of the beautiful people Factory scene, but there you have it. Long before Warhol became a pop icon, he worked as an illustrator. He won awards from the Art Directors Club, and illustrated pieces for AIGA. In the mid-1950s, Warhol made most of his income with shoe illustrations for I. Miller. When he started, the shoes were represented faithfully. As the work evolved, they became increasingly fanciful. Nathan worked for Warhol as an assistant. He drew the shoes, and then Warhol made corrections and refined the illustrations.

In 1955, Warhol published a self-promotional portfolio, A la Recherché du Shoe Perdu. The portfolio capitalized on the increasing fame of the shoe illustrations and combined a shoe poem by Ralph Pomeroy. Warhol’s mother handwrote the poems in a careful and ornate script. When she became too ill to continue, Nathan took over, imitating the style perfectly. I spend a great deal of time explaining that reality is irrelevant, perception is everything. In other words, it doesn’t matter what a shoe actually looks like. That it is presented powerfully and dynamically is more important.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the World of Love

I was pulling together some postings from this blog yesterday for a book Steven Heller is writing. This led me to discover a predominance of posts about counter-culture in the 1960s. Who knew? I’m really square, so I found this odd. Nevertheless, I decided to avoid posts in this vein for a while. Then I found this Call for Entries for the New York Art Directors Club (now the Art Directors Club). Peter Max designed it in 1964. Yes, this is about counter-culture, specifically the psychedelic experience. The collage device refers to Victorian decoupage, Picasso, Matisse, and the Dada movement. The booklet could fall into the trap that much of today’s “collage” approach does, a mishigas of more mishigas.

The strict use of typography and tight composition, however, give it gravity and allows the imagery to take center stage. The spread with the Victorian people looking at the psychedelic cloud is remarkable. It is such a simple juxtaposition, but alludes to so many issues, including the Victorian taste for psychotropic drugs such as opium (see Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Allusions aside, the composition is about wonder and different perspectives. So, you see, I had to post another one about counter-culture.

The Post About a Book With a Super Long Title That Was Shortened to an Acronym That Also Has a Cool Design Using a Great Cut of Didot (Designed by Firmin Didot around 1784).

Robert M. Smith, designer: 41ADNY62, cover

The 41st Annual of Advertising and Editorial Art & Design of the Art Director’s Club of New York is an incredibly long title. If I were faced with this, I would suggest making it longer by adding multiple adjectives as in, The Unbelievable 41st Annual of Glorious and Mind-blowing Advertising and Kick-Ass Editorial Art & Design of the Grooviest Art Director’s Club of the Center of the Universe, New York. But, clearly, the editor in 1962 did not have the foresight and genius to do this. So it was shortened to a simple acronym, 41ADNY62. Which is okay if you like to read license plates.

Title aside, the book design is sublime. I have worked on many book projects, only to realize that I am shamelessly appropriating from this annual. If I were smart I would simply steal the design, claim it as my own, and deny and wrong doing. One of my downfalls is, unfortunately, a commitment to ethics. So I admire the book, and design something of my own. If you have no ethics, here it is, in all its beautiful Firmin Didot-esque glory.

Take your shoes off, please

Bertram Cooper's office, Mad Men

Designers like distressed typography on the side of a building, hardware stores in foreign countries, vintage shopping bags, and Muji products. With few exceptions, I’ve found that many like Mad Men. Of course the plot and characters are interesting, but we can’t help ourselves when we notice the ads framed on the walls, Don Draper’s desk lamp, or the multi-colored doors at Sterling Cooper. The genius of the design is that it is not a pure snapshot of 1963. There are older items mixed in with the new ones. Nobody went out and bought everything brand new in June 1963. We all have favorite pieces. I love that there are New York Art Director’s Club awards from that time, and I really love Bertram Cooper’s Japanese inspired office. I need that. I should have it.

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executive-office

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George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames and Jens Risom Playboy Magazine, July 1961