Art & Design

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

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 […]

Cover of The Pilkington Report from Her Majesty's Stationery Office circa 1962

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Wavelengths: Pirate Radio Logos of the 20th Century

April 23rd, 2021  |  

Can you own the airwaves? Probably not. This didn’t stop William Howard Taft, then president of the United States, from declaring war on unregulated frequencies in 1912, according to an article headlined “President Moves to Stop Mob Rule of Wireless.” Since the early 1900s there have been numerous unlicensed, unwarranted, or quasi-legal radio stations operating […]

Various fruit and nut watercolor paintings from the 1800s

In 1886 the Government Paid Artists to Paint Hundreds of Fruit and Nut Varieties

April 7th, 2021  |  

What may be an example of one of the greatest celebrations of cataloguing, edible nature, and art as a means of production civilization has ever realized exists in its entirety in the probable basement of the United States National Agricultural Library. Yes, we have one of those. Luckily for us it also exists on a […]