the-prairie-provinces-of-canadaThe Prairie Provinces of Canada Canadian Pacific Railway; c. 1920;Anonymous; 9” x 15 ½”; B+, L

In the rather delirious dash to shake up the heavens, vintage graphic design has tended to fix upon sterling, mysterious glamor and one-of-a-kind speeding. What, then, it has tended to, if not ignore, marginalize, is workaday exertions. We’re in the territory of by and large shaking things up, not producing the mere necessities!

But hold on, now! We aim to point out that those designers tackling the salt of the earth in a wide range of promotions were not unmindful of simple integrity having an aura of the unpredictable. Our first image does not forget to register big, daunting skies as well as hands-on chores putting the earth to work. The towering farmer seems more about the special qualities of a pioneer than the prosaic food industry.



Roll ‘Em Out c.1942;Anonymous;30 7/8″ x 21 1/8″;A-,L

Another larger-than-life working class hero. The insignia offers vignettes of the worthies going into the wartime effort. As with the rural panorama above, a vast social/historical panorama is implicit in such endeavors. No room for loners here!




The Golden Harvest of the West Canadian 1928;Greenwoods;9½”x13”B+,P, both sides ; menu

Farm crews of yesteryear were about sharing the load, and the compositional elements of graphic art could do their stuff there quite happily.




L’Anonima Grandine 1937;Gino Boccasile;17 1/2″x12 7/8″;A, Cardboard

This pre-War glimpse of farm life stresses the fertility and fun of the athleticism on display!




Agricoltori 1953;Gino Boccasile;39″x 27 1/2″; B+,L

Fertility and fun implicit in this head-on portrait of the virtues of an earthy workplace.



Menton poster

Menton 1935; Charles Beglia; 39″ x 24″; A,L

Way down in the South of France self-conscious poetic stylishness puts in an appearance within the dimension of prose. Right up the alley of Paris-based designers! A sort of tug-of-war is evident here, wherein old ways can’t entirely obviate a world becoming increasingly indifferent to slower, gentler ways




Astercol 1945;Gino Boccasile;11 1/2″ x 8 3/8″;A-,L

Working men of this type now engaged in the world of public relations.




Fortune October 1934;Antonio Petruccelli;13 3/4″ x 11″;A-,P; complete magazine

Here the ever-alert arts component of Fortune Magazine lays it on the line (fabulously, of course) that prehistoric aspects of labor are still with us, calling for a special type of worker.




Pitch In and Help! 1944;Hubert Morley;28” x 20”;A,L

Manual labor as a short-term devotion. Here designer Hubert Morley cherishes the communal aspect of this unique branch of getting down.




Let’s Go, Step it Up Boys c.1942;Anonymous;39″ x 21″;A-,L

Here the uniforms of the aircraft assembly line workers exude the subjects’ sense of being part of momentous and life or death events. The plant fading back to infinity adds to the drama of the work.




Canada West 1915;Anonymous;11” x 8”;A-, L

The special angle here, I think, is that farm work in the Golden West is about getting in touch with an especially clean work/live environment. The rather anxious-looking horseman might have spotted a gum wrapper amidst the grasses.




Da Capo c.1920;Anonymous;47″ X 34 1/2″;A, L

A highly inflected look at physical labor. The artist has taken hold of the draft of mutiny often part of the package of taking orders from oftentimes unpleasant bosses. Or perhaps this is just about the package of work perceived as onerous. Then, again, the lady may love her job, as long as she’s left alone!

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