HOW TO EDIT ADVERTISING COPY TO MAKE A POEM AND POSTCARD: SHERWIN WILLIAMS 1935
March 17, 2010
In 1981 I was invited to participate, as a graphic designer, in Jerri Allen's Apron Project. Jerri was founder and member of the performance group, The Waitresses: I decided to make a postcard as my contribution. I took a vintage Sherwin Williams paint catalog and reworked it into a poem/postcard. Here's how:
This is the original page from a 1935 Sherwin Williams Catalog: The Authentic Home Decorator
Sherwin Willams, The Authentic Home Decorator, 1935 p.15
First, Make a Copy of the Image: At the time, I was living in Schoharie County in upstate New York. Strange as it may seem today, the nearest copy machine was an hour drive away. Because I was working as a writer/designer in this beautiful but techno-barren part of the world I owned a copy machine to have at my home studio. It was a Mita 900-D. It used a roll of coated paper and loose toner, very annoying, but made fabulous and interesting copies, quite unlike what you can do now with today's desktop scan/copy/printers. It only used black toner, but the blacks were very very black. I miss it.
This is what a scan/copy looks like now from my Epson NX400. I love that I can do color scans and prints but for black and white it can't replicate what the Mita would do:
Second: chose your text, here's what I chose, you can see it in the first three parargraphs of the original page, above.:Next: Black (or red) out the words you don't want. In other words, edit:
I also added a bit of extra text, not from the Sherwin Williams catalog, because I wanted to add to the atmosphere of the poem with a mythological reference. I chose this quote from Robert Graves, The Greek Myths:
"Goat Skin aprons were the habitual costume of Libyan girls. Athene's garments and aegis were borrowed by the Greeks from the Libyan women....It will have been death for a man to remove an aegis - the goat-skin chastity tunic worn by Libyan girls."
Next: Assemble. Today I'd do it in a design software. Because there was no such thing in those ancient days, I had to assemble mine with Mita copes and typeset - which I had to have done by a type house. I found a font that was as close to the original as possible. I used letraset sheets for the background and put everything together with glue. Rubber cement. You can see that the apron is pink. I wanted a dash of color, and in those days you could get a two color print made. I'm sorry to say I can't remember what I had to to do make this ready for the printer. Probably I had to give them a second image, just of the apron color so they could make two plates. I really don't miss those days.
Next: send it to the printer. I used Tower Press, a woman owned and operated print shop in New York City. When I say send, I mean via the Post Office. Or get in a car and drive the three hours to NYC. Today you'd make a PDF file and email it to the printer.Et Voila!
Here is the card I made in 1981, printed as post cards which I sold for several years in shops around the country:
Liza Cowan, postcard, Sherwin Williams Aproned Housewife Goddess, 1981
Here's the back:
Liza Cowan, Sherwin Williams Aproned Housewife Goddess postcard 1981, back
For more about blackout poems see Austin Kleon , Austin's blog and his book are well worth an in depth look. To see something about this card on his blog check here