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Online Lecture

Design through 125 Years of Pin-Back Buttons

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  • Led By Christen Carter
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Buttons portray design history in miniature: politics, advertising, events, entertainment, and causes — from small moments, like a family reunion, to major breakthroughs like space travel.

Christen Carter, founder of Busy Beaver Button Company, will examine how illustration and lettering affect the overall design and message of the button. Christen will show some original artwork as well as the finished button, and will also touch on the commercial printing styles over the past 125 years.

She’ll talk about the history of the button since its invention in 1896, recounting how design and messaging were used in this medium. Since buttons have always been an inexpensive form of expression and way to create awareness and community, they cover topics of their day in a unique and personal way.

Plus, they’re fun to look at! The designs range from beautifully intricate illustrations with 7-color letterpress to simple computer graphics printed on a laser printer. We can learn a lot from the letterforms too: many of the earlier buttons have incredible type and hand lettering that thoughtfully deliver the message in a small, round space.

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