Design Education

Founding Fathers Stiff Flag Designer

As we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S., it seems fitting to give credit where credit is due to Francis Hopkinson, who substantial evidence shows designed the first American flag in 1777. Hopkinson, a New Jersey lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence, had a natural love of heraldry and art, and dabbled at graphic design (a profession that didn’t exist back then). During the American Revolution, Hopkinson was serving as chairman of the Navy Board’s Middle Department, when it got an urgent request to come up with an official banner of some sort that soldiers could carry into battle. At the time, the rebelling colonies were flying a flag that featured a variation of the British Union Jack in the canton surrounded on three sides with horizontal red and white stripes. (It looked like a knock-off of the British East India Company flag.)

Read More »

Information Graphics

Statehood History Explained with Postal Stamps

This one-of-a-kind flag assemblage, from Kit Hinrichs’ vast Stars & Stripes collection, was designed by the quartermaster of a U.S. military post office during World War II. A closer look reveals that it is not just a flag made out of a bunch of used stamps and cancellation marks; it is clever information graphics. The blue canton is made from dozens of five-cent stamps, and the stars are cut from cancellation marks mailed from the state capital of each of the 48 states that were in the Union in 1943 (see detail after the jump). The unknown artist didn’t stop there. He placed the stars chronologically according to when each state entered the Union. The red stripes are composed of two-cent stamps (yes, they once existed!), and the white stripes are pieced together from envelopes mailed from the states that were part of the Original Thirteen Colonies that declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4th, 1776, and founded a new nation of united states. Something to think about while waiting for the fireworks to start. Happy Fourth of July!

Read More »

Announcements

@Issue Editor’s Show Opens in Tokyo

Some of you know that seven years ago I wrote a book called “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946,” published by Ten Speed Press/Random House. As usual, it was designed by Kit Hinrichs (Kit’s origami flag assemblage below) and photographed by Terry Heffernan. After more than 30 years as a corporate writer, I suddenly found myself propelled in another direction and immersed in a subject that I largely avoided my entire life. Although I had no thought that it would make a good art exhibition, I began receiving requests from museums across the U.S. and the array of objects made from scrap and found materials by people imprisoned in the camps were exhibited in some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. and the International Folk Art Museum of Santa Fe. Today it opens at the University Art Museum (Geidai) in Tokyo to kick off a one-year tour of Japanese cities. If you are in Japan, I hope you’ll take the time to see it. I’ll be back in my San Francisco office next week with more new posts. — Delphine

Read More »

Announcements

Kit’s Fourth of July Flag Primer…Redux

In the U.S., July 4th is a national holiday commemorating the day in 1776 when the tiny 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, instigating a revolutionary war that lasted eight long years. From a graphic standpoint, the American flag is unique because change is built into it. Each time a state joined the Union, it got its own star on the flag. The 50th and most recent star was added in 1959 when Hawaii won statehood. The flag’s appearance has remained constant since then. This video, produced by Kit Hinrichs, presents a chronology of when states entered the Union, how that changed the look of the flag, and which Presidents served under each version of the flag. Yes, we did run this video last Fourth of July, but we thought the John Philip Sousa’s tune “Stars and Stripes Forever” would be an invigorating way to celebrate the holiday. By the way, Sousa who was born in Washington D.C. is a classic American “melting pot” story. His father was born in Spain of Portuguese parents and his mother was born in Bavaria. Happy Fourth, enjoy the hot dogs and watermelon but don’t light fireworks if you live in a fire zone.

Packaging

Olympic Branding Champions

Coca-Cola has just unveiled six limited-edition cans to cheer on Team USA at the London Olympics this summer. San Francisco-based design agency, Turner Duckworth, combined three of the world’s most recognizable icons to communicate the entire story –the stripes of the American flag; the five interlocked rings of the Olympic logo and silhouette of an athlete, and Coca-Cola’s signature red and Spencerian script logotype. The effect is succinct, direct and graphically powerful. Coca-Cola is rotating the can designs throughout the summer, with a new one appearing every two weeks, culminating with a special composite logo timed for the opening of the Olympic Games.

Read More »

Photography

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Photoshop

As we in the United States celebrate Independence Day (aka Fourth of July), those of us in design communications can marvel at the freedoms that technology now allow. The living photograph here by Mole and Thomas was taken decades before the invention of Photoshop or even 35mm handheld cameras.

Around 1918, during the height of World War I patriotic fervor, Arthur S. Mole, a British-born photographer based in Zion, Illinois, joined forces with John D. Thomas, a choir director who liked to position choir members to form various religious icons-a talent that made him the perfect photo choreographer for Mole’s grandiose ideas. Together the two set about creating gigantic patriotic symbols by using military personnel essentially as “human pixels” and then photographing them.

Read More »