Monday, February 22, 2010

Bold Package Design



















CHARACTERS ON LABELS


54 comments:

RooniMan said...

All those package designs are glorious, those modern ones are a complete waste.

Alberto said...

ohhhhh~ i love that rice krispies packaging, it's so simple and elegant. You can't do that with cereal today. A lot of this is just gorgeous design!

Brian Romero said...

Graphic design took a huge plunge after the 60's. There's a fair amount of good design today, but it usually doesn't filter down to mass market products. Companies with wealthy customers are the only ones who will spend the money on tasteful design. Desktop publishing software has opened the door for any jackass to 'make' stuff. Very few know how to actually 'design' or ever bothered to study the history of graphic design. They just ape what they see, adding drop shadows, glows and gradients instead of making intelligent design decisions.

MARK CHRISTIANSEN said...

The appealing art on the Jets cereal box was created by Roger Bradfield, who wrote and illustrated many wonderful children's books such as "There's an Elephant in the Bathtub" and "Benjamin Dilley's Lavender Lion". I'm pretty sure that he also designed the Trix Rabbit.

PatriS said...

I miss the colors on the old packages, everything has to be so bright blinding primary colors today. funny enough if a company would go back to more... traditional colors they would probably stand out from all the others.

Funky Al said...

The designs on those last packages are bad enough, but they're also fat free. That just adds insult to injury.

GoldDarkShadow said...

i just love the simple designs of the first few products. But those modern designs just look too cramp and nasty that i cant even look at them.

Roadsidepictures said...

How about some attributions to go with these fine photos!

Thanks!
Allen
aka Roadsidepictures on Flickr

Steve Buccellato said...

CHOCOLATE SNAPS!!!!! I loved those!!!!!

thomas said...

I just had to look it up :

Hexachlorophene can be lethal from percutaneous (through the skin) absorption. Children may be specifically susceptible. Hexachlorophene (6.3%) was added to “baby powder” in France due to a manufacturing error. It caused encephalopathy and ulcerative skin lesions. 36 of 204 exposed children died within a few days of exposure.[1]

-from wikipedia

Bill said...

At Brian Romero: I wonder if its thans to computers art stinks, just look on craiglist and note how companies require "2-3 years experince with random $200 program", rarely do they mention that they seek talented artists or if they do they settle for 2nd and try to use computers for their short commings, kinda like modern films.

xynphix said...

Today's packaging designs remind me of Splenda, you're not supposed to notice the rug being pulled out from under you.

JohnK said...

Roadside:
send me a link and I'll add it...

seifd said...

I notice there's plenty of t-shirts using that 50's advertising type design. People still recognize quality and want it.

Roadsidepictures said...

Thanks!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/sets/939353/

Nicol3 said...

You dissin' on my sweet cred, John?

Alex_Munguia said...

count chocula is Ace in my book....haha just kidding...Well I guess it represents the cereal accurately. Gross.

Niki said...

I know at some point you tricked me. I saw the first few packages and got excited, but then I saw "Sweet cred" and my depression came back. It wasn't as bad as 10 minutes ago though.

ThomasHjorthaab said...

Hey John!
I still haven't got a scanner so I can't show you my progress in the studies, but I did some Ren doodles last night if you have the time to leave a comment:)

Ren Höek

Also another question... Is there any chance we'll get to see Ren and Stimpy on new adventures with you as captain again?

Cheers
- Thomas

lastangelman said...

I thought I was going through my grandmother's attic looking at all the neat stuff - then you got to TODAY'S DESIGNS and nearly threw up.

Allan L. said...

For the record, that Cricket Cola is a newish product with a tastefully done "throwback" design.
http://www.drinkcricket.com/
I had some in Minneapolis a few years ago.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elnegro/226766113

ArtF said...

the Spumco Palmer paint sets packaging you guys did is also pretty great.

jens said...

You have to admit, that as a kid you would prefer the new count chokula design instead over the all type rice krispies box.
Sure as a mature the typography is good in all helvetica, but if your audience are children they would find it downright boring

Olivia said...

Tude + Lots of Digital Airbrushing + Pointy Letters = Profit?

How depressing.

Dave Jacob Hoffman said...

There's a great quote: "Good design goes to heaven. Bad design goes everywhere."

It's true that there is a lot of bad graphic design out there, and the whole postmodernism thing in the 80's and 90's stirred up a lot of crap, but there is still good design to be had out there. One only needs to browse "Lovely Package" or "The Dieline" to find some good modern packaging design.

http://lovelypackage.com/

http://www.thedieline.com/

I do like the retro packaging you're posting (although a few things here and there are a little too kitch, especially a lot of the typography), but you're painting a picture of modern graphic design being complete crap, when it's not. It's easy to pick on the really bad stuff like cereal boxes, but there's plenty of really really good stuff happening out there.

And how about that Cricket Cola you posted? The packaging apes that retro feel, but it's a drink that hasn't been around for too long.

http://www.drinkcricket.com/press.html

I agree with you on pretty much all your cartoon theory, and I read your blog religiously, but when you start talking about graphic design, you're a little out of your element. When designers talk about the history of graphic design and all the different movements, the kitsch era is actually the one they tend to be embarrassed of. It's kinda like their Filmation, I suppose. Watch Micahel Bierut talking about how good it felt to do away with all the kitsch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDLPAE9wLEU&feature=related

Don't get me wrong, I think you're posting a lot of design from that era that is still pretty good, but I think you're mixing your sense of good design with nostalgia, and in the process you're selectively misrepresenting the history of graphic design as a whole and telling an incomplete and slanted story.

Or it could be that I'm just an overenthusiastic graphic design student who hopes he won't be contributing utter crap to the modern commercial landscape. Either way, I'm taking notes. So blog on, John.

Whit said...

Roger Bradfield also had a hand in designing the Keebler Elves. And the Kel-Bowl-Pac was the greatest dumb invention of the twentieth century.

RobochaoXX said...

John, I don't get the extreme disgust and torture you get out of today's art. I just end up laughing and choking instead.

How do you do it? I guess your kryptonite is bad art to you.

HNNNGH GET IT AWAY FROM ME MAN

HemlockMan said...

I remember the old vacuum tube boxes! Very cool.

Thomas said...

I can't say I find all of these old designs equally interesting. The Chocolate Mix is a very good one, though.

Vintage bold design by Piero Manzoni:

http://www.myartspace.com/blog/uploaded_images/piero-manzoni-798918.jpg

Opening credits to "Thank you for smoking". Eye candy! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HC3xwlfcFM

Chris said...

Wow those are great vintage packages. I think I heard an audible THUD when I was scrolling down the page and the images switched to the modern packaging.

Thomas said...

I can't say I find all of these old designs equally interesting. The Chocolate Mix is a good one, though.

Vintage bold design by Piero Manzoni:

http://www.myartspace.com/blog/uploaded_images/piero-manzoni-798918.jpg

Opening credits to "Thank you for smoking". Eye candy! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HC3xwlfcFM

Roadsidepictures said...

Has anyone here seen the set of five vintage cereal boxes that General Mills has reproduced? Run over to your local Target store and take a look! The Lucky Charms and Trix boxes are my favorites. They've also reproduced vintage Cheerios (featuring Bullwinkle), Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes.

JohnK said...

"You have to admit, that as a kid you would prefer the new count chokula design i"

I hated the Count Chockula, Booberry character designs even when they were started, but they got even uglier with age.

Namowal said...

What Brian Romero said.
Designers are relying on Photoshop bells and whistles instead of, designing.
A lot of modern package design (especially stuff aimed at kids) has a wild exploded look. They look like freaking screen savers.

Brian Romero said...

Sure some designers may be embarrassed by the kitschy designs of the 50's and 60's, but there are many who embrace it. I invite you to check out House Industries. Not only have they created a lot of beautiful retro fonts and custom typography, they've done a lot of great design too. This approach still works for many projects though I wouldn't want to see everything all retro'd out.

http://www.houseindustries.com/

Personally I could care less what Michael Bierut thinks about design. Pentagram is one of the most overrated design shops around. They've created a lot of ugly design that draws more attention to itself rather than communicate a clear message to the viewer. It's like they care more about impressing other designers or the people who judge design annuals.

When you get out of school and enter the real world, your understanding of design will hopefully change and grow. When I was in art school a lot of professors tried to make you believe that their way of thinking was the only way. This is a total crock. There are many ways to creatively approach all visual art, though certain basic principles remain the same.

Shawn Dickinson said...

I was just at the store yesterday and was surprised to see that General Mills is selling cereal in their old original box designs from the 50's. It's all really appealing (especially in comparison to the modern ones they sit right next to on the shelf). There's NO clutter, NO extra ads, NO painfully bright colors...just the old designs and the old characters, simple and to the point! I don't know if they are just doing that for a limited time, to be "retro" or what, but I hope that if enough people buy up the cereal in those boxes, the companies will see that the stuff sells better in appealing boxes, rather than the chaotic messes they've been selling for years. I love the old style boxes so much that I bought a box of Lucky Charms, even though I don't have much taste for sugary stuff anymore. The leprechaun just looks so damn cool!

drawingtherightway said...

Being a fan of video games, I thought I'd post this. Compare the original cover of Super Mario Brothers to this Modern Mario game. I know this wasn't exactly what you were looking for but the first example is simple with a lot of negative space where as the 2nd one is more cluttered.

Steve Hogan said...

Great collection Roadesidepictures!

With regards to all that Street Cred stuff: Bad design aside, do you really want to buy candy from kids that look like they want to steal your wallet?

Kingfish said...

As a graphic designer it's great to see these last few posts. I love old-style sensibility- when I read the ancient Archie comics in the barbershop as a kid, the ads were almost as much fun to look at as the comics- you could look at them forever!

The good news is that old style designs like these packages are making a comeback of sorts, if somewhat ironically. It's lots of fun using bold type and colors in this way, and a blast to look at- much better than the eyeball rape I am subjected to most places I look.

Dave Jacob Hoffman said...

Brian,

I have no problem with that kitschy style, but when you look at the underlying structure of a lot of the work from that period, it's a wreck! Sure, House Industries has a kitschy flavor with their hand lettering and other ornamentation, but the underlying structure looks modern to me. Look at the prints. Plenty of white space. Simple geometry. Even the layout of the website is on a solid grid.

Compare that to some of the stuff John's been posting:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mJ4lc_Q9Q6k/S4DwScu2AeI/AAAAAAAAlyY/m6tuX8ZiPV4/s1600-h/4367032269_f5848d91e6.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mJ4lc_Q9Q6k/S4Dw9l8hXcI/AAAAAAAAly4/XOx5In_L6VI/s1600-h/2501344695_a650efbb66.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mJ4lc_Q9Q6k/S37JMfE0o1I/AAAAAAAAlvg/ubt6u0pIFFE/s1600-h/38kix.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mJ4lc_Q9Q6k/S38cfyLjHyI/AAAAAAAAlww/kVtcmzaZTqg/s1600-h/llbackcover.jpg

I see clutter, painfully inconsistent typography, confusion, too many messages battling for attention on one page. This stuff has style in spades, but that doesn't make good design.

John's posting plenty of great stuff, too, but he keeps saying that everything after a certain point has turned to crap. Of course there's crap. There's always been crap. Sturgeon's law: 90% of everything is crap. But I still go out every day and see plenty of brilliant design. Old stuff, new stuff, whatever.

And honestly, don't think I'm regurgitating some professor's thoughts. If I had any problem challenging other people's opinions, I probably wouldn't be ranting about design on my boyhood cartoon idol's blog right now.

JohnK said...

Well I've never said everything new is crap. Most of it is, but now and then something comes along. I liked Black Dynamite.

And I don't believe Sturgeon's Law.

The crap from 60 years ago was a higher standard of crap than much of today's quality.

It was just a more logical time in general, but not everything was perfect by any means. I think WB cartoons are great, and some other studios are not so great - but even those less quality studios made more watchable stuff than most do today.

And I can't imagine anyone thinking Collier's is kitchy. Sure comics, toys and cartoons are - but they are supposed to be.

I think people use the word "kitsch" in a different sense than they used to. It just means old now, not cheesy. Like everything old is automatically cornball because you can tell what it's for and it's well done.

I call that clarity, which I guess is considered kitschy now.

"Retro" has changed its meaning too. It used to mean 50s atomic age style. Now it means anything more than 6 months old.

I've heard people talking about "classic" Scooby Doo, too.

Then there's "old-school" rap.

MDG14450 said...

Everyone's seen this by now, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeXAcwriid0

Dave Jacob Hoffman said...

"The crap from 60 years ago was a higher standard of crap than much of today's quality."

I can agree with you on that. Like Brian says above, desktop publishing and the ease of digital printing have opened things up for a lot of horrible work. I still have hopes that there's room for plenty of good work as well, though.

"Like everything old is automatically cornball because you can tell what it's for and it's well done. I call that clarity, which I guess is considered kitschy now."

I see kitsch and clarity as being in direct opposition to each other. If anything, kitsch is extraneous ornamentation that can stand in the way of clarity if not properly handled. If you want a design philosophy that demands complete and transparent clarity, there's modernism. But that can get boring.

Myself, I like the structural solidity of modernism, but I think that work should have personality to support its message and emotion. If a 50's atomic style reinforces the work, I'm all for it. If there's a weak structure underneath that style, however, then you lose clarity.

talkingtj said...

where is all the good stuff? have we become so consumerist that weve lost all of our aesthetic values? people criticized madison ave advertising back then-calling it crap-what would they about the real crap today-we always seem to be devolving-i guess devo was right all along.

Martin Juneau said...

I start to understand what's wrong with the use of 'Tude and cool in every sauces. I admit that those Digital Airbrushings we see here and everywhere is look made for hiding the mistakes of our pictures. I know some friends on DeviantArt draws now just for be cool even if they will never confess.

A history class of graphic design and good drawing taste needs to be recognised in art class if you know what i mean.

John A said...

I'm glad to hear General Mills is rerunning their old box designs, but what I really miss are all those old Post cereal boxes that featured Saturday morning characters on them. I used to love Crispy Critters with Linus the Lionhearted on the box, or Sugar Crisp, with the original Sugar Bear on the box.

ca60gregory said...

What is sweet cred? I think i may want some, whatever it is its so amazing that the one football head kid just cant stop smiling about it.
Honestly though, why are they so smug? Choosing a specific kind of candy does not give you the right to look down on other people, it jsut makes no sense.

Bijan said...

The worst part about the modern ones I suppose would be the basics of the cartooning. Bad silhouettes, bad action and bad facial expressions. What is that asian girl doing with her hand? Look at a real hand! Is that 10 year old girl giving me "love eyes"? What's with the mouths? Who's style is this based off of? Can John K get to the bottom of this terrible style?

Cortes said...

To be fair, the last Count Chocula design had a semi-decent layout, but was ruined by the garish colors and crowded details.

Kali Fontecchio said...

"devolving-i guess devo was right all along"

Devo is always right! Devolution is here!

Marty Fugate said...

I hate what they've done to Count Chocula and Captain Crunch. It's like seeing an old childhood friend after a botched job of plastic surgery.

Q: Are we not men?
A: We are DEVO.

the plummer said...

I'd cry myself to sleep if I had to work on that "Sweet Cred" stuff.

Killer ZEES said...

When ever I'm feeling down or like I can't do anything in this world, I take Aspiroids! They boost my aspiration to be something great!

Edward Thirlwall said...

As a consumer, the first thing that I look out for is a product's packaging or its storage container. If it is attractive and exciting like with colors and characters, I would pick it up first as compared to a boring storage box or jar. I am not a child but I think that is just how the human mind works. What catches our attention first, will entice us to it as compared to other stuff on that very same shelve or rack. Thus, the marketing team of any product should truly take factors that might seem trivial like color and pattern, into strong consideration for their product packaging because that is the first level of advertising to walk-in customers.