Matchbook Art And A Strange Obsession.

Matchbook art – this is around 1 inch wide

I am not sure why, so I won’t try and explain. But I am obsessed with simple clip art. The two color kind. Okay, maybe I will explain. Writing about helps me understand it. Maybe its that it’s all hand done. Maybe its the simplicity of a single color that can define so much. Maybe its that its true art.

Looks simple? NOPE, this is a fantastic layout. The way the type works with the sign. All ONE COLOR – And all in one inch!

The inside of the matchbook – All those brands are our culture! I love the phone number, I can still recall my home number. Jackson3-4625

The entire cover of the matchbook

When you think about it, some person drew this. An artist, but back in the day, they were less artists and maybe layout girls, or layout artists, and when it got fancier, Illustrators. Now with all the modern photo shop stuff, these folks were true artists, that sold their time with a pen for a living.

From a Mercury Outboard Cover. ONE color, the grey is a screen of black- The style of people is iconic and says so much more than a photo

I used to hire these sorts of people in the ad business, and the art work was rough. Like a real person did it. There would be white out all over the place. Then the art was taken to a Photo Stat machine, which was like a huge camera, and then that was cleaned up, and a mechanical was produced using all sorts of layers or ruby film, called Rubylith. All by hand!

From a Chris Craft 1939 Brochure. Its a Black and white Photo with a had cut layer of color – and no, I have never seen one of these cool boats

See, the original BW photo and the color overlay

Jim Murdock in the real thing as a reference – Photo Kent O. Smith Jr

Simple art can be wonderful of the Bar harbor resort home of the Gull Lake Boat show.

Maybe that;s why I appreciate it? The simplicity, the ability for a singe line drawing that captures so much, so quickly, with style. I like the idea of a simple small matchbook tucked away in a drawer. A small detail, that makes the world right.

This simple style is what makes cushion art so cool

Simple Fishing art

TWO color, yet works and sets a mood

Two color

ONE color – When you designed a brouchure you had to decide a budget for printing. Two color was far more expensive. So it became the artists job to make it work.

One color. Embossed

For Newspaper. The artist captures a ton of emotion with simple nines. AMAZING! Newspapers are notorious bad for printing. Its the nature of the beast. So a simple drawing would reproduce better. The artist mattered

So, interested in the Mtchbook? YOU CAN BUY THE ART WORK HERE FOR 3 BUCKS

14 replies
  1. Jake from State Farm
    Jake from State Farm says:

    Thanks Matt….Got it. I had an employee that was into stone litho….amazing drawings.

  2. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Love that old add art! Took some real artistic talent to create. Some of the best boat art was done during the “BUY WAR BONDS” era. Really evoked a “can do” emotion and after the war it was just a celebration of family fun. Great period in our history.

  3. RH in Indy
    RH in Indy says:

    I’m also a fan of old art work. The action feel of the Chris Craft in the last photo reminds me of old comic book art. I’m drawn to this stuff like you are. 60’s-70’s GI Joe booklets were cool.

  4. tom gibbons
    tom gibbons says:

    I remember Wilsons, growing up in Edgewater,NJ,right on the Hudson river. Fort Lee is the nieghboring town. I used to go there for supplies.On the wall facing that front showroom window was a full size enlarged photo of a 50’s era chris runabout.Would be a great boat house momento today.I still drive past that location today,its now a filling station/conveniance store.

  5. Mike K
    Mike K says:

    Forest 9 5918
    i grew up in a printing family. that first color looks like “reflex blue” though alittle washed out.
    i was fascinated by 4 color process, the process, & the cost of separations.
    now your phone does it all for free!

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Yup. Reflex blue. When you look around at other matchbook covers of the period. They are all the primary printing ink colors. I recall PMS colors were always available, and from time to time, a custom trademarked color. Like Coca Cola has its own special red.

  6. Rabbit
    Rabbit says:

    I, too, am a huge fan, Matt. I started in advertising around the same time you did. My first account was a high-end traditional men’s clothing store in Minneapolis. We did full-page newspaper ads with amazing line illustrations and I wrote two-thousand words of carefully crafted copy for each one. It was craft and art with loving care. Like our boats.

  7. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    That is a neat story about I subject totally foreign to me. Interesting.

    Along those lines: I have a Whirlwind salesman’s tie clasp…even has wood inlaid for the hull….and a swag chain! May be a story there?
    John in Va. my childhood phone number: 6522 Richmond Va. Age giveaway.

  8. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Michigan had the great old phone numbers also. Growing up on the East side of Detroit, in what is now a ghetto, ours was Twin Brook 1 4915. It was a twin party phone line that we shared with the neighbor lady. My dad would get really annoyed when she was on the phone a long time and he wanted to make a call. Amazing how we remember those crazy things!

  9. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    my childhood phone number was OX78932. OX for “Oxbow” exchange out in the boonies of Belleville, MI. Boonies the, now just a suburb of Detroit…
    Why do we remember numbers like that???

  10. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Had a four family party line. Mercury ME 4379. Our ring tone was two long rings and one short. We politely never listened in on neighbors conversations. Obviously thing aren’t quite as polite in the Facebook internet world.

  11. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    VI2-2731 was the family phone number. Still is in use at the beach property. VI was “viking”. 🙂

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