I recently purchased this book by Steven Heller and Louise Filli that is crammed with amazing type and packaging from what they refer to as ‘Design’s golden age’. I’ve always been fascinated by vintage type, especially these incredibly elaborate designs reminiscent of hand-writing.
As the use of letterpress increased, so did the demand for individual and quirky typefaces used to inject individuality into everyday printed ephemera. Script type was mainly used for weddings, births, graduations,anniversaries and almost any form of personal announcement. There popularity was such that what began initially as a way of suggesting authority and a bourgeois aesthetic quickly became a classless and cliched form. It reminds me of art-deco in a way, a form of glamour that’s available to everyone, regardless of your social and cultural background.
Scripts were not only used for personal matters, before the machine age revolution and the use of modern logo design methods, scripts were used to add personality to corporations. The business logo as a ‘signature’ was adopted by many companies, their logos allowed the consumer to function under the illusion that they were dealing with an individual; allowing the impersonal to become personal. During the 20’s and 30’s many businesses turned away from script design as they felt them too quaint and whimsical in an increasingly sophisticated and industrialized world.
Scripts moved on from this into advertising where in the US newspaper and billboards became packed with what was widely becoming know as ‘Perfume’ script, the cursive and subtle shapes hinting at prestige and social elitism appealed subconsciously to America’s leading consumers of the time – women. Art deco packaging hinged around the promotion and evocation of exclusivity promised to you the consumer by a certain type of hand cream or shampoo.
The decorative nature of script allows you to ‘read’ and advert or logo as both image and text, they are wedded together and presented as a coherent image. I have been working my way through this website and selecting pertinent ads to re-work and use a form of social commentary on today’s consumer culture. I intend to replicatethe authentic feel of this type of work in order to provide a post-modern narrative structure within anti-capitalist rhetoric, one that hopefully wont be absorbed and sold back to me but that’s the nature of the game I guess…
This book inspired me to document my own collections of cursive scripts and labels, namely ones from my suit and coat collection but with a few random tins and other bits thrown in.
Suits and Overcoats