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Telling an elaborate six part visual story on a matchbook cover – The Artsology Blog

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Let’s say you’re a graphic designer, and a client comes to you with this proposal: promote my restaurant with the concept of people dining together as a social experience. The tagline will be “Let’s Get Acquainted, One and All.” And here’s the kicker: you’re supposed to do this on a 1 1/2 inch “canvas” that is a matchbook cover. How would one ever do this?

The actual graphic designer in this case study is unknown, but he or she took this challenge and took it one step further: the designer created a six part visual story on the small amount of space that the matchbook cover provided in order to illustrate the restaurant owner’s wish. And I think the end result is such an unusual and interesting – and successful – way to tell this story, that I decided to break it down for you here.

A quick backstory here first … this matchbook is from my grandfather’s collection, and comes from a restaurant called “Roy’s Place” in Waverly, Iowa. This matchbook dates from either the 1940s or 1950s, seeing as the hamburgers being advertised are only 5 cents! (see more here).

Okay, let’s break this down. The first panel shows two donkeys, eyeing their own respective piles of food, but for some reason there’s a rope that ties them together.

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

They both start to move toward their piles of food, as they are both hungry.

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

They find themselves in a struggle as neither hungry donkey can reach its pile of food, as the rope that binds them has become tight and they can go no further.

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

Frustrated, the donkeys stop their struggle and regroup, with a question mark between them showing that they’re trying to figure out how to solve this problem, as they are indeed very hungry.

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

They suddenly have the idea to eat together! So they first move to the food pile at left, and enjoy eating that together.

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

Having enjoyed the first pile of food on the left (see how it’s gone now?), they move over and enjoy eating the right pile of food together. Mission accomplished!

matchbook art from the 1950s featuring hungry donkeys

Isn’t this great? I love the fact that this whole story is packed into a little 1 1/2 inch wide piece of paper. You can see both the front of back of this original matchbook here:

Roy's Place 5 cent hamburgers in Waverly Iowa

If you want to see more interesting matchbook art from the 1940s and 1950s, make sure to check out the links up at the top of this post.



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