Archive for March, 2011

Vintage Movable Review: Mercedes-Benz Ad

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today’s selection is another mysterious pop-up advertisement. Back in the 1990’s Mercedes-Benz wanted to hand you “your passport to 21st century motoring”. Sadly, the faux passport that accompanied this pop-up mailer has gone missing, which would have shed some light on this campaign. Luckily, we can still enjoy the pop-up as is. This type of promotion would have been handed to potential clients or sent through the mail. Once taken out of the large envelope, the rubber band springs open a colorful car showroom, where a creepy looking magician/entertainer (who is a dead ringer for a chubby Dr. Doom) is unveiling the new Mercedes-Benz car model. If this is my passport to the future then it appears that I have nothing to declare.


Whats Popped Up: A bunch of Bologna

Monday, March 28th, 2011

One of the biggest events in the children’s book industry starts today. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has just begun and lasts for the next four days. In it’s 48th edition, this fair brings together authors, illustrators, publishers, literary agents, packagers, printers, booksellers, librarians, and many more to learn about the latest trends and developments in children’s books. Pop-up packagers and paper engineers make their way to Italy to complete a marathon of meetings with publishers and manufacturers as they present the prototypes of new titles and ideas. With roughly 1300 exhibitors from 67 countries, the massive convention space is host to thousands of industry professionals (so no kiddies, here). Every year there is an honorary country promoted at the fair and this year’s guest will be Lithuania.

I have heard many great stories of past fairs in Bologna from pop-up artists like David Carter, Ron van der Meer, Robert Sabuda and Sam Ita, and hope that one day I will get a chance to wander the massive exhibition halls and get lost in a world of wonder and possibility. But I better plan ahead because even though it’s the first day of the Fair, hotels are already booking up for next year!


Vintage Movable Review: Statistics Weekly

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Another interesting advertisement from the Land Down Under.  There is no date but by looks of the clothing and hairstyles I’ll put this in the late 80’s (but then again I remember seeing a lot of mullets in my travels in Australia in the late 90’s, so who knows). The Australian Bureau of Statistics wants to make your life a little more colorful by providing access to their Statistics Weekly commentary.  To illustrate the point the movable mailer employs a clever mechanism.  I don’t want to ruin the magic on this one so just sit back and enjoy the video.


Artist Watch: Nate Coonrad

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Just came across the work of Brooklyn-based artist, Nate Coonrad.  I love his design sense in the illustration “above/below”, but it’s his works in paper that really grabbed my attention.  The papercraft version of Nate is fun and his recent pop-up book promotion for Nokia is really well done.  Working with a team at the ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy NY, Nate created seven pop-up compositions with an inset at the end of the book to house the Nokia N8 smartphone.  The designers go a step further and house the  “Where should we go?” book in an attractive custom case (which I would handcuff to my wrist so nobody could take away this clever promotion).  Since you cannot get the pop-up book in person, check out a nice video of the book in action here.


Whats Popped Up: Made in Italy

Monday, March 21st, 2011

This morning we had a special delivery from Italy.  After a very successful internship last year with us, we are happy to welcome back our newest paper engineer, Giovanni.  I first met Gio at the recent Movable Book Society conference in Portland, where the wild haired young man did his best Johnny Appleseed impression as he entered the hotel holding a tree branch with pop-up apple business cards dangling from the leaves.  He then enthusiastically shared some of the pop-up creations he had made during school.  Now back in the new year with a new look, Gio will be helping us on some big upcoming projects as he learns what it takes to make a pop-up book.  (In fact, with his new haircut he looks a lot like the boy in this beloved Italian commercial for Big Frut.)


Vintage Movable Review: Northern Trust Bank

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

I recently received a treasure trove of pop-up ephemera from Australian pop-up collector and all around great bloke, Corrie Allegro.  He and his wife have run a graphic design firm in Victoria, Australia for the past thirty years, where he developed an insatiable taste for movable and pop-up designs.  Corrie has recently created a blog to share more about his massive collection.

Today we get to check out a quirky pop-up magazine insert from 1987.  This advertisement for Northern Trust Bank asks “If you think nobody cares if you’re alive… try missing a couple of loan payments” as the single spread pop-up unfolds to reveal angry creditors knocking at an office door while a nervous man barricades it from the other side.  The quote is attributed to the New York Post gossip columnist, Earl Wilson.  The ad uses humor, catchy (if dated) artwork, and a great pop-up design to talk about something as boring as commercial banking.  There is no information on the paper engineer or manufacturer of this piece, but it feels like something that Intervisual would have created.  So in lieu of any more information on this piece I’ll leave you with a few more quips from “Midnight Earl”.  Enjoy.


Artist Watch: Hina Aoyama

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

One of my favorite blogs is Upon a fold out of Australia. Justine finds some of the most beautiful paper artists from all over the world. Recently, she introduced me to the Japanese born artist, Hina Aoyama. She has been creating delicate cut paper creations using just scissors for a few years now and the works are a marvel to behold. I thought I was pretty good with a pair of scissors but her hand skills and patience is on a whole new level. You can see a video of Hina snipping away at an earlier work here.


Whats Popped Up: Engaging pop-up book

Monday, March 14th, 2011

One month ago, I asked my long-time love to marry me.  During our Valentine’s dinner I wooed her with flowers, chocolates, and an elaborate home cooked meal.  In return she sang me a German love song and presented me with a beautiful letterpress card and framed photograph of the two of us.  Now, being a paper engineer has a lot of perks.  I get to cut and paste paper all day long and make children’s pop-up books, but there is a downside.  Your girlfriend knows your capacities and over the years comes to expect the occasional custom pop-up card.  But I think that I was able to surprise her this time with a hand bound three page pop-up book.  It is rare to make her speechless but rest assured that by the end of the book as I asked her a question on bended knee, she managed to whisper a single word…yes!


Vintage Movable Review: Hand Semaphore Trainer

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Today’s item came from the United States Navy Special Devices Center.  (I’ve often wondered what other oddities came out of this cryptic naval office.)  Dated around 1965, we have a Hand Semaphore Trainer (device no. 12-WW-2) manufactured by the Einson Freeman Co. Inc. [Fun fact: Founder, Morris Einson is recognized as “America’s Picture Puzzle King”.]

The Semaphore trainer is intriguing and especially effective as it utilizes both sides of the movable wheel in training aspiring flag wavers.  If you are receiving a message than you spin the dial until it matches the hand positions presented by a faceless seaman, thus decoding a single letter.  Flip the card over and line up the letter to learn the correct gestures to send your message.

For the landlubbers among us, flag semaphore is a method of communicating over a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags.  Semaphore has been used in the maritime world since the early 19th century, but the term is from the ancient Greek for “sign bearer”.

While I may not have any immediate use for this trainer I was able to put it to the test in decoding the Fab Four figures on the front of their Help! album (which was also coincidentally created in 1965).  I thought I had stumbled upon an early clue to who was the walrus, but it turns out they are calling out Nujv! since the producers didn’t like the original hand positions.  We may have been tricked by the Beatles, but at least we can be confident able the origins of the peace symbol.  A synthesis of the semaphore symbols N+D, which stands for nuclear disarmament.  Peace.


Whats Popped Up: Library Salon Follow-up

Monday, March 7th, 2011

The Children’s Literature Salon at Children’s Center in the main branch of the New York Public Library this past Saturday was a wonderful success.  It was a packed room despite competing with a warm sunny day as Elizabeth Bird kindly ushered us through about a dozen questions touching on our backgrounds, inspirations, and the pop-up creation process.  Sam Ita was in a jovial mood as he described how he came from humble beginnings as a pedicab driver and luggage salesman before answering a newspaper ad to work at a pop-up studio.  Legend has it that he expected to design pop-up ads on the computer before he took a good look around and realized they made books.

Once I discussed some ideas behind my pop-up books Castle and Baby Signs, Sam displayed his latest title, Frankenstein.  I was delighted to learn more about the various versions he created to tell the occasionally gruesome story.  Sam even touched on the fascinating idea of free will as he described the automatic pop-up movements of the Monster versus the viewer activated pull tabs that brought the townspeople’s actions to life.

After we shared our personal stories and showed our latest pop-up titles, Sam brought out some interesting early prototypes of his newest pop-up books as the audience swarmed in for a closer look.  In fact, the book lovers were so excitable that when two pop-up books were offered as a prize to the member that produced a winning note from under their seat, dozens of folks mistakenly tore off the product labels of the fabric chairs and waved them triumphantly in the air.  With colleagues and pop-up fans like these, I could not think of a better place to be.