The Design Observer Twenty

Eric Baker | Today Column

Today, 12.27.08

Here are Today’s images.

Eric Baker Design Associates is a Manhattan-based design firm established in 1986. Eric teaches the history of graphic design and corporate identity at the School of Visual Arts, and has twice received National Endowment for the Arts Grants for independent design history projects. He is inveterate collector of books and ephemera. Editor's Note: All images link to their original source and are copyright their original owners.

Comments [11]

I wish I knew where you found these images. Great set as usual. Especially the Fritz Lang shot. Are these images public domain? Can anyone use them?

I like the image with the cigarettes making letters. Looks like something Stefan Sagmeister would do.
Code Name: Smith

Robot strippers!
Mark Baratelli

@Daniel: Have you tried clicking on the images?

Would love to read the article on Bowie being a UFO prisoner, as it may explain if there really is life on Mars. More on Ziggy-era Bowie.

And that Gibson logo stands the test of time!
L.C. Bobalova

nice collection. Where are they from? I would also like to know the origin of these photos. Thanks for posting.
Nikki - Logo Design Guru

Nikki, the images are usually linked to their original source: just click on them.
Michael Bierut

I love swimming in a sea of diverse imagery and seeing the resulting neural fireworks (inspiration). However, as a professional illustrator I can't help but be slightly depressed by Daniel's honest question above: "Are these images public domain? Can anyone use them?".

Luckily, for many graphic artists, other soon-to-be-anonymous artists are happy to release their doodles and scratchings into the modern torrent of imagery ripe for harvesting. We live in an era where the mechanical ease of collage and the seductive moral ambivalence of appropriation unwittingly acknowledges the brilliance of another while stripping them of credit and compensation. The designer piggybacks on accepted strategies of graphic designs that recycle others' work which streamlines the designer-client relationship.

Can designers lead the charge to a new era of original imagery whose qualities are unique, personal and well-fitted to their client's hopes and the world's need for meaningful symbols?
Rob Dunlavey

Interesting thought Rob Dunlavey

On new years I sent out a note to my family with a Happy 2009. It's what i do for new years. I like typography. I make the numbers out of what is sitting before me. 2007: my doodles, 2008: my shoes, 2009: my desk lamp and two wire cages. This has a longer history but those are just official things i put out on the web.

Underneath this years picture I wrote to my family :

I know I do great work with my camera and my observations and am rewarded nothing monetarily. Sometimes that still hurts, but nobody said life was easy either.

I do other stuff for my own well being, just because i don't know how to stop doing things like this: seeing, then creating. Often later i see similar stuff on the web by non professionals and professionals. I do not surf flickr or graphic design sites or books because i try to get my inspiration from my surroundings, not what others have done. I find the process more active than passive.

I know i must be fooling myself anyway, because not even my mom or dad said, good job.

What I take from your comments is that you'd rather initiate art and imagery as a response to life. You resist being a consumer of images. You value (and embody) the voice that artmaking provides. Hooray!
However, I detect your jealous or foolish feelings when you see others doing the same things and getting recognition or income from their efforts. Now, please forgive me my advice columnist hat but I think your parents would appreciate if you ran your artistic creations up the flag pole and made them compete (and succeed) in some way in the commercial realm. This is basic parent stuff you know?

And inspiration is everywhere. Don't limit yourself because you think it's maybe been filtered by someone else.
Rob Dunlavey


i was jealous for about two years after i quit school. then i discovered freedom from commercial success. Besides to get ahead in this business you have to have connections and (many times with wealth) within it. And don't you designers deny that. There must be a reason for all that good stuff coming from the wealthier east coast. The connections I had were false ones needless to say.

as for limiting myself. i limit in stages. maybe one day i will get through this frugal stage. for now i am healthier abiding by it.


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