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From the Collection: Greatest Hits of Social Media

Rediscover Archive gems in a new series showcasing our most popular posts from Instagram and Twitter.

Three popular Letterform Archive posts on Instagram with a heart animation in the background.

At least twice a day we share items from the Letterform Archive collection on social media. Connecting with our community on these platforms has always been a big part of what we do, even before the physical library was open to the public. That said, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there are plenty of Archive members, newsletter subscribers, and website visitors who don’t see all that good stuff we post there. Meanwhile, the limited canvas of social media doesn’t always do justice to a rare printed book or detailed piece of calligraphy. With that in mind, here’s the first in an ongoing series showcasing your favorite posts, reprised in expanded form on the blog.

Susan Kare

Susan Kare (illustration and bitmap type) and Clement Mok (design), MacPaint Manual, Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, 1983.
Susan Kare (illustration and bitmap type) and Clement Mok (design), MacPaint Manual, Apple Computer, Inc., Cupertino, 1983.

Susan Kare is widely known for creating the interface elements (including icons like the paint bucket, crash bomb, and smiling Mac) and typefaces used in the earliest Apple Macintosh computers. We were honored to have her on our board of directors in 2018–2021. Thanks to a significant donation of material from Clement Mok, who designed collateral for Apple in the 1980s and early 1990s, we have several key objects from the Mac’s early years, including the MacPaint manual, a Kare and Mok collaboration.

Georgy Echeistov Cover Illustration

Georgy Echeistov (Георгий Ечеистов), cover illustration for Disappointment (Разочарование) by Anatoly Mariengof (Анато́лий Мариенго́ф), Moscow, 1922.

The experimental typography and lettering of early 20th-century Russian design is a major part of our avant garde collection. Our holdings include household names like Altman, Iliazd, Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Stepanova, and Telingater, but there plenty of works from lesser-known artists, like this striking book cover by Georgy Echeistov where letters and illustration combine for a single dynamic composition. The book is a collection of poems by Russian writer Anatoly Borisovich Mariengof (or Marienhof), who was one of the leading figures of Imaginism.

The Complete Commercial Artist

A rare set of Japanese trade publications serves a visual feast of modern graphics and lettering, as well as a study of early-20th-century interactions between Japan and the West. The early 20th century in Japan witnessed a collision of emerging and residual forces. Tensions between past, present, and future shaped typography, lettering, and other areas of design. Leading up to the Shōwa period (1926–89), as a result of the nation’s modernization and growth of commerce, businesses recognized the value of advertising to consumers in a visually appealing way.

The budding interest in creative advertising and the rise of commercial retail led to a 1920s–30s boom in design trade publishing to satisfy the growing demand for rich reference materials. In 1926, Hamada Masuji and a group of colleagues, including Sugiura Hisui, Watanabe Soshu, Nakada Sadanouke, and Miyashita Takao formed the Association of Commercial Artists. Together, with Hamada serving as the Editor-in-Chief, they published The Complete Commercial Artist, a 24-volume collection of trade publications on commercial design.

Amos Kennedy Jr.,

Children: Tired of being harrassed [sic] by your stupid parents? Act now! Move out, get a job, pay your own bills, while you still know everything

In 2018 we brought in dozens of letterpress prints by “humble negro printer”, Amos Kennedy Jr. Since then, we were honored to add his nearly complete archive which includes hundreds of handbills and broadsides. Kennedy’s bold, layered prints convey a broad range of commentary, from humorous statements about life in the South to cogent history lessons and demands for justice. Psst, a Letterform Archive book on his life and work is coming next year. Stay tuned!

See Greatest Hits of Social Media, Part 2.