We’ve all seen the Keep Calm and Carry On British wartime propaganda poster (& the countless modern variations) – 70 years later, that’s still a great message to live by, isn’t it? No wonder that poster is so popular!
I have a big collection of vintage British, Australian & American magazines published during World War Two; reading them really makes it hit home how difficult life was with such limited resources, but how people used their tenacity & ingenuity to cope, & make life as comfortable for themselves & their families as possible – so many worthy practices came out of these times of rationing & deprivation. In some ways, with the realities of global warming & the uncertainties of the global economy, living frugally is equally relevant today.
Up to the 1960s, most Australian backyards contained a vegetable patch & fruit trees. Nowadays you’re more likely to find landscaping & lawn, yet how we’d all benefit from fresh, organic, home grown produce that hasn’t been in storage for months or transported across country. One of the positive shifts in the way we eat has been that people seem to eat less processed foods than, say, 20 years ago (despite time management being a constant issue for most of us), with a renewed interest in cooking & baking at home.
As well as Digging for Victory, other messages from the British government during the war encouraged people to walk whenever possible due to fuel shortages (Shank’s Pony is such a reliable old nag!), & to Make Do and Mend. We all know the virtues of sustainable living, but can always do with some encouragement every so often to consider all the little things we can do that make such a big difference. Don’t you think these fantastic posters serve as a timely reminder, from an era when people had no choice but to buckle down, make do & carry on.
I have a big collection of Victorian & Edwardian postcards, mainly collected in the ’80s when they were cheap & plentiful. They’re so pretty! I keep them in vintage postcard albums & nice boxes & take them out of the cupboard every so often to play with. Many of them are from this fabulous secondhand book shop called Edmonds (now sadly closed) where we’d spend wintery Sunday afternoons rummaging & foraging & coaxing out treasures. It was dark & cluttered & smelled like dust & musty old paper & gas from the fire & tobacco. I loved that place…
What have I been doing lately? Do you want to know? Cast your eyes leftwards…here’s a sneak peek at one of the pieces from my new jewellery range which will be in my new online shop early September (I hope it will be early September, if everything runs smoothly). I’ve been making jewellery for a year now – sourcing nice supplies, perfecting techniques, working on my designs & illustrations, playing around with product photography – it’s been a long time in development & it’s gotten to the point where I’m bursting to show people what I’ve been doing!
I am so looking forward to the day when I fling open the doors to the brand new Magic Jelly Emporium, full of shiny trinkets, new artwork, gocco prints, etc (I’m imaging a stampede of eager shoppers buying everything in sight, but that may be a tad optimistic). Oh dear, I have a lot to do between now & September haven’t I? Why am I hanging around here blogging?!
I’ll leave you with some eye candy (or eye cake – but that sounds like a nasty condition requiring a dose of eye drops), here’s a vegan carrot cake with vanilla cream frosting I made on the weekend.
I really don’t want to take up blog space dwelling on negatives, but I think it’s worthwhile to open up a discussion about copyright infringement. Being on the receiving end can cause a lot of grief, exasperation & heartache. For instance, the image above… To the left we have an original illustration that I made way back in 2005. To the right, we have an extremely bizarre & badly put together poster design, featuring my illustration, advertising a 2007 exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum. I was not asked for permission or offered a fee – in fact, I would not have licensed this particular image because it’s my logo, but I was denied the right to refuse. What makes it even more difficult to accept is that the person who stole my artwork is presumably an artist or designer themselves, & should know better; if not from a legal standpoint, from an ethical one. And this is just one example of the many, many times that my work has been used without my permission.
Grrr… Anyway, deep breaths…
What confounds me is when I’ve talked to other independent creative-type people about copyright infringement, quite a lot of them seem to have either a blasé or fatalistic attitude about it. What are your thoughts on copyright & protecting your work? Have you had any of your work stolen before? I’m really interested to hear about other people’s experiences.
After Christmas & birthdays, there was nothing so exciting to my younger self as Cracker Night, when the suburbs were aglow with catherine wheels, sparklers, roman candles & bonfires. Cracker Night was held in late-autumn here in Australia (a lingering tradition of the Empire Day holiday of May 24th that were phased out in the 1960s), & it was commonplace to set off fireworks on the abandoned circle of sand in your backyard that, come summer, lay beneath your 3-foot swimming pool.
We also observed Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th. I recall an exciting evening at my primary school, where they assembled (what seemed to me) a gigantic bonfire on the school oval & burnt a floppy effigy made of newspaper-stuffed pantihose. I had no idea what the Gunpowder Plot was all about, but it was all very thrilling nevertheless!
Sadly, Cracker Night came to an end in the mid-70s, but I still have fond memories of the excitement of backyard fireworks. To celebrate the exuberant packaging design & advertising of the fireworks of my early childhood, I thought I’d dedicate a series of blog posts to them. This first one is devoted to the beautiful patterns & colours of fireworks labels, & coming up will be a post packed full of fireworks typography, & another about posters & advertising.
I think fireworks packaging & branding was absolute genius – so evocative & exciting – I’m sure you’ll agree these patterns are gorgeous. I love that so much attention to detail was lavished on something that would eventually be set alight & explode! But what an explosion…raining stars, fizzy, sparkly, noisy & glorious.
A long time ago I posted a list of some of my favourite typefaces of the circus/carnival/sideshow/wild west persuasion (which you can take a look at here). Since there are so many fabulous fonts to choose from, I thought I’d post some more for your typographic pleasure! The fonts marked with an asterisk in the list below are for personal use only, but the rest are free to use in commercial projects; but just to be sure, please read each individual designer’s licensing agreement. (By the way, the pointy hands are actually part of the Joe Clement font – the left & right angle brackets).
I shall be posting a list of some of my favourite vintage & script fonts soon too.
I hope you have fun using these in some of your projects! :)
And here are a couple more beauties…
Shuzo Ikeda 1922-2004 Japanese Printmaker
Flag Procession, 1987. Woodblock Print by Shuzo Ikeda.