Friday, 13 November 2009

American Streamline Lite

Four examples of magazine advertising from Alcoa Aluminum in the pages of Fortune in the 1930s. Fortune was printed on heavyweight coated paper stock and was able to offer advertisers like Alcoa the facility to use metallic-finish printing inks. Although the typical Fortune reader would be seated at an outsize desk in a plush executive suite there was an editorial assumption that the executive pulse beat faster when presented with industrial imagery in the form of gas tankers, suspension bridges and urban transport. Alcoa’s graphic designers constructed their layouts on conventional rectilinear grids while allowing for the occasional acute angle to suggest some gentle visual dynamism. Fortune’s page designers favoured an even less flexible grid in their efforts to convey a sense of gravitas and self-importance. Thus although the Alcoa ads may seem rather timid in their departures from convention, in the context of the editorial content, they have the impact of a comic strip.

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