When I first met My Honey back in September of 1980, his goal was to become a great illustrator like his heroes Joseph Leyendecker (who has THE BEST signature), Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth (and others from the Brandywine School), Norman Rockwell, and the person who influenced him the most, his Uncle Don Crowley (technically, Uncle Don is My Honey’s father’s cousin but they were raised like brothers, hence the “uncle” honorarium). Unfortunately, My Honey earned his BFA in Illustration the same year that Apple’s McIntosh was introduced and all of the skills he had painstakenly learned were immedietly obsolete. Even today, he is amazed at what I (with my untrained eye) can create on my MacBook Pro in minutes that used to take him hours to complete.
Needless to say, there is an appreciation for the golden age of illustration and commercial art in our household and today I want to share three sources of wonderful 20th century illustrations for you, too, to enjoy. Additionally, the illustrations provide visual stories that inform our understanding of “old fashioned values” that may have gotten lost in recent years.
The first resource is hosted by our own MRW reader Lidian: Kitchen Retro. Lidian puts her own research skills and passion for history to good use and finds the most outlandish ads for stuff we never knew we needed or that we do need but the ad just seems a bit off for some reason. And, Lidian’s story-telling ability keeps her readers in stitches, too.
I found the second resource because of Lidian. The Duke University Library Digital Ad*Access collection has thousands of ads produced between 1911 and 1955. It is fun to browse through the ads just to get a feel for marketing from that time period. This Lava Soap ad is from 1933.
Finally, My Honey recently found a blog dedicated to mid-century illustration. The Today’s Inspiration blog features interviews and examples from famous and not-so famous illustrators. It is fun to see the illustration and to hear the “back story” behind it.
If you’re like me and love to browse through old magazines and look at the advertising, then you will enjoy these three resources.
Do you have other mid-century illustration resources to recommend?