A bit of news, a bit of inspiration, a bit of new work... a bit random, a bit blogish. “bits” is where it all hangs out.
In the wayback, my grandma gave our family Treasury of American Design by Clarence P. Hornung (1950, Harry N. Abrams). It's a hard-bound, two-volume set that features beautifully detailed illustrations of functional and decorative objects (dating from approximately 1890 and earlier) created by American artisans.
When I was a kid, I loved poring over the pictures in these books, absorbing the incredible array of forms, patterns and decorative motifs. I recently rediscovered Treasury in my parents' bookshelf and was fascinated to read that the illustrations in it were originally created between 1935 and 1942 as part of the Index of American Design, which was a project of the Works Progress Administation's Federal Art Project. The Index was one of many FAP projects developed with the goal of employing artists during the Depression.
I have a lot to say about why I think these books are cool, and I hope you'll look at some of the links above to learn more about the Index and the FAP if you don't already know about them. But the main reason I'm thinking about all this today is because I recently learned that the Obama re-election campaign is holding a design contest to solicit original poster art promoting Obama's job creation plan. It's basically a crowd-sourcing effort by the Obama campaign to get valuable art and design without paying for it. The very special irony, of course, is that the purpose of the art will be to promote employment opportunities. The Graphic Artists Guild has done a great job of summarizing everything that gets me riled about this. I would only add: