Today, I thought I would have a little ‘show and tell’. This week, I received a package from my uncle containing a very interesting and nostalgic piece of family artwork. You see, my great grandfather Nels was a commercial illustrator that worked for one of the many Northern California fruit packing label companies back in the early portion of the 1900s (seems kinda weird to say it that way now).
He was one of the staff artists and craftsmen that designed and illustrated packaging for the Muirson Label Company of San Jose, California back in the day (their facility closed in 1970). I have a few others, but this particular piece is cool because it’s from the 1928 version of the now popular V8 vegetable juice drink.
So, before I went through with reframing the illustration archivally, I thought I would share some photos of the artwork. To my knowledge, it is done entirely in gouache (a kind of opaque watercolor medium) on cold press illustration board. The crosshairs (or Xs) you see there are inked-in registration marks they used for color separations. The detail is truly fascinating–especially the froth on the drinking glass. It’s even complete with white touchups here and there.
I am especially fond of the work because I used watercolors and gouache pretty exclusively until I moved into the digital world.
If you are interested in more of this kind of illustration from the early fruit packing industry, you can visit the San Jose Historical Society’s website on the Muirson Label Company here. They have some great reference information and books to check out when you get there.
Enjoy. Let me know what you think.