Retro Vintage Graphics

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Your life may be what happens to you while you're waiting for your life to start happening, and our art may be what we've got when we're not thinking about art. The ancient Greeks didn't consider the visual arts to be "fine" arts, because uneducated slaves could be taught to paint and sculpt - yet that painting and sculpture, rediscovered, changed the history of western art during the Renaissance. So it could be that the things we take for granted - the everyday things that blend into the background - are art that will be remembered when we're not. Or even if we are.

Vintage Crate Label Art from CaliforniaTake fruit and vegetable crate labels, for example. This is commercial art at its most humble: just a piece of paper that's stuck to a wooden box that holds a bunch of produce that'll go bad next week. I mean, think about it.

But when you give us a medium, we do something with it, unless we're hacks. So the artists who designed these labels gave them everything they had - and then they probably found that they had to outdo each other.

Vintage graphics on crate labelsSome of these show idyllic farm landscapes in some awfully nice places we know, in the fields of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California; some show colorful characters and creatures; some are plays on the names of the farms that used them; some would be beautiful as paintings, and some were, and are, jokes.

The lemons and oranges of California or Florida, the carrots and cabbages and sweet potatoes of who knows where, all needed just as much branding as an Internet startup. Here's how they tried to establish it. And if the farms are gone now, or consolidated, or plowed under for condominiums, it's just a lesson that those ancient Greeks weren't always right. Because this work is still worth looking at, which is what you should probably do next.

Use the links in the left menu, below "Crate Labels", to see the shirts, mugs, cards and posters.


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