Art & Design

Observations and notes on contemporary and historical art and design artifacts.

The Absolute Best USDA Fruit and Vegetable Market News Reports Published Between 1954 and 1994

July 14th, 2024  |  

The United States Department of Agriculture began publishing reports on supplies, demand, and prices of “over 400 fresh fruit, vegetable, nut, ornamental, and other specialty crops” in 1915 according to a strange corner of the USDA National Agricultural Library website. These “Fruit and Vegetable Market News reports” were and are published under something called the Agricultural Marketing Service and are intended to help growers, buyers, and producers navigate an often fluctuating produce market.

A collage of BDS posters from 1970 to present on black

BDS Posters and Graphics, 1970-Present

May 9th, 2024  |  

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is a nonviolent movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel. Its objective is to pressure Israel to meet its obligations under international law. In the spirit of the current moment we have instructed one of our officers to compile a collection of some of the more interesting BDS […]

A strange 1980s office common area full of white roman columns and carpet with a solid wood desk with flowers on top and there is carpet everywhere

The 11 Best Reception Areas and Common Spaces from 1980s Commercial Office Buildings

March 26th, 2024  |  

To kick off our new ongoing visual series, ‘Back to the Office’, we are taking a stroll down memory lane. Which specific memory, you might ask? The one where you drove your Oldsmobile to a sleek, carpeted 1980s corporate office building on the edge of town near the mall and the interstate. We are taking a look at the absolute best reception areas and common spaces from the 1980s commercial office buildings.

Off-air recording of TVE 1 version (1990–93 version, on 3 March 1992) - a circular blue pattern on gray grid background, orange square, rainbow squares, the letters tve in yellow

The Best TV Test Cards and Patterns of the 20th Century

January 30th, 2024  |  

Television test cards were elaborate, strange patterns and graphics used for visual calibration or for filling gaps and dead air in the early days of T.V. broadcasting. Often appearing for hours overnight when stations would “sign off”, they would have entered the cultural imagination as hypnotic oddities—likely untrusted and alien—but would come to fill a nostalgic void made up of colorful, wild, and geometric glowing shapes. What weird, luminous, and mesmerizing patterns do we use today to fill up our empty spaces?

Old business man in suit with headphones on celebrating with his arms up while dreaming about parrots, a steamroller, and a wolf

8 Public Procurement Notices That Totally Inspired Us in 2023

December 28th, 2023  |  

Wow, what a year. With 2024 just around the corner we are looking back at some of the most exciting requests for proposals, goods, or services in government or quasi-government spaces in 2023. Here are eight procurement listings and notices that absolutely blew our socks off.

National Museum of the American Indian lobby in DC

Native American Tribes, Leagues, & Confederacies: A Selection of Flags & Logo Designs

October 9th, 2023  |  

We looted the basement of the Smithsonian Institution Archives by posing as doctoral researchers interested in the preservation techniques of really old flags. Our unpaid interns made us fake badges to gain entry to the cryogenic room—next to the Smithsonian staff sauna—where they keep the good stuff. They then helped us digitally smuggle out some […]

The LIUNA union logo in white in a repeating pattern on a black background

The Fraternal Order of Design: A Selection of U.S. Labor Union Logos, 1880s to Now

September 4th, 2023  |  

While we here at the Department of Information have successfully stamped out many attempts over the decades at unionization from within our own ranks—sometimes through illegal, quasi-legal, and morally dubious methods—we still know how to appreciate good union branding when we see it.

Objects from Civil Air Transport, a CIA front airline company from the 1950's

CIA Front Airline from the 1950s, Design Objects of Civil Air Transport (CAT)

January 15th, 2023  |  

In August 1950, the CIA secretly purchased the assets of Civil Air Transport (CAT), an airline that started in China. CAT would continue to fly commercial routes throughout Asia, acting as a privately owned commercial airline. Under the guise of CAT Incorporated, it provided airplanes and crews for secret intelligence operations. Naturally, with any substantial […]

Collage showing three old tombstones with defunct government logos on them (The Civilian Conservation Corps, The US Information Agency, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation)

Government Logo Graveyard: Defunct US Federal Agency and Department Seals and Marks

July 4th, 2021  |  

Mark Twain once said something along the lines of, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A government logo who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” And over the years since our countrymen first started drawing circles with eagles inside of them, many logos–along with their organizing bodies–did die. […]

Outdoors Publications field guide covers

The Interminable Outdoor Publications of James E. Lawrence

May 12th, 2021  |  

James E. Lawrence would have been about 25 years old when he was assigned to survey the wild deer population outside of Brookhaven National Laboratory, a top-secret government research center full of particle physicists and experimental happenings, where said deer were running amok scaling the 12ft tall fence to eat radioactive plants. Was this the […]