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Jessica Helfand

Mothers Day Special: Baby, It’s You!



The Dionne Quintuplets — Five of a Kind, 1938

Before everyone had cameras, the baby picture was the purview of Mom and Dad. Among so many other things, we have them to thank for remembering to capture us as we once were: smaller, rounder, goofier, balder. (Although, in some cases, less bald.)

"Diaper backward spells repaid," the distinguished social critic Marshall McLuhan once observed. And who are we to argue with that? 

Today, in honor of Mother's Day, we've gathered some of our favorite images from an earlier era — before apps and tags, when pools had nothing to do with Flickr. Some came to us with the scalloped edges redolent of the early Sixties, while others arrived indelibly tinged with the citrus hues from the earth-tone-Seventies. People from all over the world sent in school snapshots, dog-eared wallet photos, and faded Polaroids, all offering solid evidence of the degree to which we all made atrocious wardrobe choices. (Come to think of it, maybe that was Mom and Dad's purview, too.) Throughout the images that follow are striking similarities between then and now — a preserved jawline, an enduring smirk — and just as many surprising differences. (See "balder," above.)

Every last one of us began as a tinier version of what we are now, and if ever there was a moment to stop and consider that fact, today is it: the day we remember our dear Mothers, who sacrificed their sleep and their waistlines and so much more.

Thank you, mothers of design people. And Happy Mother's Day to all.


Antonio Alcalá


Sean Adams


Deborah Adler

Keira Alexandra
Keira Alexandra

Mariana Amatullo
Mariana Amatullo


Gail Anderson


Paola Antonelli

Allison Arieff
Allison Arieff


Eric Baker


James Biber


John Bielenberg

Michael Bierut
Michael Bierut

Teddy Blanks
Teddy Blanks

Gaby Brink
Gaby Brink

Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Stefan Bucher
Stefan Bucher


Ralph Caplan

Allan Chochinov
Allan Chochinov


Seymour Chwast


Beatriz Cifuentes

Elaine Lustig Cohen
Elaine Lustig Cohen

Nancy Sharon Collins
Nancy Sharon Collins


Denise Gonzales Crisp


Liz Danzico

Nathalie Destandau
Nathalie Destandau

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle


William Drenttel


Arem Duplessis

Elliott Earls

Tina Roth Eisenberg
Tina Roth Eisenberg


Mark English


Nancy Essex

Louise Fili
Louise Fili


Karin Fong


John Foster

Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser


Barbara Glauber


Carin Goldberg


Bryony Gomez-Palacio


Ric Grefé


Stanley Hainsworth


Sylvia Harris

Jessica Helfand
Jessica Helfand

Steve Heller
Steve Heller


Gary Hustwit


Alexander Isley

Meena Kadri
Meena Kadri


Ethel Kessler


Chip Kidd

Alex Knowlton
Alex Knowlton

Alexandra Lange
Alexandra Lange

Julie Lasky
Julie Lasky


Nancy Levinson

Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman


Kali Nikitas


Derry Noyes


Clive Piercy

Emily Pilloton
Emily Pilloton


Rocco Piscatello


Hank Richardson


Laurie Rosenwald

Jason Santa Maria
Jason Santa Maria


Louise Sandhaus


Paula Scher


Adrian Shaughnessy

Bonnie Siegler
Bonnie Siegler


Brian Singer

Nancy Skolos
Nancy Skolos


Andrew Sloat


Matt Soar — Photo credit: David Ward, Studio Six and a Half


Erik Spiekermann

Todd St. John
Todd St. John

John Thackara
John Thackara

Massimo Vignelli
Massimo Vignelli

Khoi Vinh
Khoi Vinh

Carol Wahler
Carol Wahler

Josh Wallaert
Josh Wallaert




Comment 7  |     |     |   Like 35  |   Tweet 93
Comments [7]
Wonderful!

Thanks.
Swiss
05.08.11
11:07

So much fun!
Thanks Jessica.
Gaby
05.09.11
08:29

my first word?
"taxi!"
laurie rosenwald
05.09.11
11:23

Laurie, that suits you so perfectly. Perhaps next Mother's Day we'll do a post on design people and their first words!
Jessica Helfand
05.09.11
12:01

Wow! This is a really great idea Jessica.
Here is a little music to go with the photographs from the 1963 LP Introducing the Beatles.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Carl W. Smith
05.10.11
08:39

That was fun. Made my day. Thanks Jessica.

Sylvia
05.10.11
06:36


Oh, if only they could stay that age forever.

Which age is that?
David Lorczak
05.11.11
09:30



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