Over the holiday weekend I spent time cutting apart an old archive of New York Times issues (more on that later). After separating the wheat from the chaff I had a few questions about the origins of certain newspaper ads. I asked for some help from followers on Instagram.
Alas, I didn’t get much back. In the process, however, I did remember another potential resource—one I had spent years cultivating.
For many years I spent many of my waking hours at the UCLA Library. Due to various circumstances, I was given free access to their libraries and repositories. I took it as an opportunity to work on some major research projects—some for my friend Louise Sandhaus’s (recently released) book, and for my own personal archiving project on the designer Erik Nitsche. Over those few short years I checked out many design magazines—some had literally never been checked out before. And along the way I just took photos of anything and everything I was interested in.
Amassing a huge photo archive was just one part of the greater plan. The next step was to be able to search and tag them. This was the late aughts, and the only realistic solution was Flickr. It had a bulk uploader, some of the best tagging and organizing features, and it was fairly inexpensive. Every day after my trek to Westwood I returned home and dumped all of the photos onto Flickr. I would pop in on the images every now and then, but they largely were left raw and untouched. After my move to New York, and Flickr’s own decline, they ended up in the mass graveyard of digital ephemera.
It’s 2015 now. Flickr has gone through some bumps and bruises but Yahoo seems to be re-investing in the platform. Tonight I thought to dig through the collection and see if I could find answers. And looking back on the many hours spent photographing images in a library I feel like I owe it to myself to once again re-surface this work and re-present it to a new digital audience.
So tonight I just started tweeting some beautiful things I came across.
Also—in case you haven’t heard—Atavist now has a Flickr block, which will allow me to embed my images and potentially allow me to add some commentary. It’s something I’ve always hoped for, but it now seems that much easier.
Case in point: Let’s talk about Projekt magazine sometime soon, okay?
Or maybe the wonderful work of Japanese designer Yusaka Kamekura (a Flickr collection I started last night and am sure to develop).
There’s a ton of graphic design wealth to unpack in these Flickr archives—it won’t happen overnight, but it’s a worthwhile process.
Sadly, I have yet to find out who designed that Lord & Taylor ad (I’m still on the hunt—if you have a suggestion please contact me). I have decided I’m going to give Flickr another shot, though. It might simply start as a searchable repository for my Instagram photos (at least that’s better than what Instagram currently offers). Who knows, it might even become more—I’ve got an itch that maybe the New York Public Library can help me scratch.