Art + Design

From the Design Desk: Illustration Blogs With Narrative


The Missed Connections illustrated blog by Sophie Blackall is finding lots of followers. In fact, there’s even a short video about the blog made by Babelgum. Blackall reads Craigslist‘s Missed Connections and posts her pictorial vision of these fleeting moments along with the text from the ads themselves. They can be sweet, funny, and at times just plain strange. Her illustration style, with its delicate lines, soft colors, and editorial quietness, lends itself beautifully to this project, and usually adds intrigue and mystery to the described scenario—often one of impossible romance.

Maira Kalman’s blog for The New York Times, called And the Pursuit of Happiness, is based on moments from her own life. She visually narrates her adventures, quotidian moments, and grand realizations. These monthly posts are often funny, peculiar, personal, and inspiring, not unlike her illustrated book, The Principles of Uncertainty.

My new favorite blog, Letters of Note, features actual found letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos impeccably curated by Shaun Usher. These correspondences are selected because of their fascinating content and history, not for celebrities and gossip. There are letters from soldiers that reveal amazing stories (I’ve been brought to tears). A letter to Jesse Owens from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People pleads with him not to participate in the 1936 Olympic Games. It’s amazing to get different accounts of history in this firsthand sort of way. It’s also enthralling from a design perspective to see these artifacts uncropped and legible (a transcript also follows each one).

Last week we wrote about how Anthropologie catalogs feature a rich level of storytelling with their design, through photography and playful layouts. It’s not unusual to experience a larger story reading a collection of separate posts on curated, single-author, or theme blogs, whether it’s intentional or not. And if fashion catalogs can tell stories, most certainly illustration (and found-material) blogs can, too.

Suzanne M. LaGasa

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