There are certain quirks that you spot in an artists’ work. And when you like the work of commercial designers, that comes in useful out on a hunt. You spot a piece of packaging or a book cover because something about it dings a bell in your head. Something reminds you of their other work. It might be a way of drawing figures. A lightness of line. A use of stencils.
I found something the other week that got me sadly excited. It doesn’t take much, I admit. Hours of trawling on eBay tallies very little in returns. But once in a while you get the right search term, someone is selling some paper tat that takes your fancy and, with a bit of propinquity, said tat ends up on your shelf.
This particular bit of cardboard comes from the stable of one of my favourite designers, George Him. Erstwhile partner of Jan Lewitt, they worked together under the name Lewitt-Him and produced some of the liveliest commercial work of the first half of the 20th century.
Now, what was it about this piece that made me think it came out of that particular artistic stable? The caterpillar, really. Lewitt-Him’s work often featured animals. Him, in particular, liked his animals. This show card is a complicated beast (forgive the pun), with lots of parts to it. It probably sat in the back of a grocers shop until a dealer came across it. The copy reads “SCHWEPPESia luxurians”, a take on botanic nomenclature and a conceit that ran throughout the Schweppshire campaign.
The work for Schweppes was actually Him’s work, mostly undertaken after the artistic partnership spilt. Him was also the half of the partnership who created in 3D. As well as the 3D showcards for Schweppes he designed window displays for the De Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam. There is more work and information on the Schweppes campaigns and other Him work to be seen here.
It’s all scarily good stuff. Each piece of their partnership and Him’s later work contains more detail, witty copy and creative vision than it rightfully should. All so lovely it makes my teeth ache. If I ever trip and fall into a rabbit hole, I want to come out into a Lewitt-Him world.
Now you know why I got excited.
This is the original display, all shiny and new. The miniature glass bottles are the ‘fruit’. Who could resist? Photo courtesy George Him archive.