Art + Design

From the Design Desk: Old Abe Still Rocks


Abe Lincoln is a familiar presence in the craft community. His striking portrait often pops up among the cupcakes, vintage typewriters, owls, and other woodland creatures that you’re likely to see in craft shows like the Renegade Fair. One quick search on Etsy will bring up Abe is a Babe notecards and a ton of Lincoln tees, prints, necklaces, tin cans, and more. You can get the Murphy Elliott Lincoln portrait on the bottom right below as print, canvas or greeting card.

I can’t think of another U.S. president who inspires more artists, especially contemporary ones, to depict his image. Lowbrow pop artist Mark Ryden has featured Mr. Lincoln in many of his paintings. In this post from the New York Times, artist Maira Kalman describes falling in love with Mr. Lincoln after visiting the Lincoln Archive at the Rosenbach Museum and Library.

As the vast amount of Lincoln publishing suggests, it’s not just his unusual image that ignites our interest and imagination. From scholarly studies like President Obama’s favorite Team of Rivals to the far less serious Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Mr. Lincoln is still very much a part of our national identity and discourse.

Perhaps with so much Lincoln art and publishing, it’s not surprising that there is even a typeface named after Old Abe, by John Studden for Letterhead Fonts. It’s also great to see how different illustrators render him for editorial purposes, like in this write-up by graphic designer and illustrator Matt Dorfman in a piece for Time Magazine.

And now, in our new book Lincoln in 3-D, we can see Mr. Lincoln’s image and other photos from his presidency the way they were originally intended to be viewed. The photos in this book—rare, historical, intimate, and classic—were originally rendered stereoscopically in the 3D technology of the time.

Lincoln in 3-D is a beautiful, debossed, hardcover book designed by Trina Hancock, with some awesome historical photos and a pair of 3-D glasses to go with it—unfortunately they are not wire-framed spectacles, but their design is inspired by them. Keeping in the tradition of Mr. Lincoln’s famous saying, “Whatever you are, be a good one,” this is no doubt a good one.

Suzanne LaGasa

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  • Nancy Paulsen September 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Hi — I am Maira Kalman's editor at Penguin and we are turning her amazing Abe Lincoln blog (In love with A. Lincoln) from the NY Times into a kid's book out Fall 2011, to be title LOOKING AT LINCOLN. Glad he's still rocking!


  • Cupboard Love September 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Love good ol' Honest Abe – in fact, I'm going to the Abraham Lincoln museum in Springfield, IL this weekend!


  • Suzanne October 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Nancy, I'm so happy that Maira Kalman's Lincoln art is going to be turned into a book. It might be for kids, but it'll have cross over appeal for sure. I'll pre-order "Looking at Lincoln" as soon as the link is up. Her books are so fun… and Penguin can do no wrong!



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