Sunday, May 29, 2011

Alfred Mainzer

Searching through a folder of old postcards, I came across a couple of lovely ones from my childhood by the Alfred Mainzer Company.
Here is a little information about Dressed Cat Postcard Series:

"These cards, known as the Humorous Dressed Cats postcards or Mainzer Dressed Cats postcards, were originally published from the 1940's through the 1960's by Alfred Mainzer Inc. in New York City, known worldwide for their postcards and greeting cards. The Mainzer company was founded by brothers Renate and Alfred Mainzer, who started the business in their New York City home in 1938. The early postcards had a rough finish, brilliant colors, and scalloped ("deckled") edges. The cards were printed in Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, Thailand, and Spain. An additional series of Mainzer dressed cats were published as the "Kunzli edition" - these appear to be set in older European environments, and are typically not as brightly colored as the American editions. Mainzer also did a smaller series of "dressed dogs," "dressed mice," and "dressed hedgehogs."
     The artist was Eugen Hartung (or Hurtong), who lived from 1897-1973. His signature logo was a little heart with a loop or “tongue” Hartung signature in the center. That symbol should appear in one of the bottom corners on the front of the postcards, though there are a few occasions when it was cut off during the printing process. (Both postcards above have this symbol). The Kunzli postcards will show "Copyright Max Kunzli, Zurich 6/35" or "Edition Max K├╝nzli, Zurich 6" imprinted on the back either with or without an “Alfred Mainzer, Inc.” address. Some of the Mainzer and Kunzli postcards will show where they were printed. Most of them will be numbered.
     The charm of these anthropomorphic cats postcards is not just in the fact that the cats are in everyday "people" situations, but in the amount of detail in each picture - note the pickpocket on the train, for example, or the fact that most of the "better dressed" female cats have poodles as pets.
     The Alfred Mainzer Company still exists, doing much more reproduction work than postcards. Around 2005, the company had 100 of the postcards reprinted as a "collector edition." In 2009, the majority of the postcards were burned in a fire, and all of the remaining stock was sold out by the end of that year."

If you happen to have any of these delightful cards, hang on to them because they will become rare according to the information above. I grew up with these cards and loved staring at all the detail. They are both strange and whimsical.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little more Denmark

As a designer, I seem to always be thinking about color. Any nice sample of color I come across ends up in my file cabinet. One of the most memorable aspects of Copenhagen is COLOR. Rich, bold, simple, color creates a wonderful pattern along many of the streets. These beautiful buildings have been on my mind, so I would like to share a few examples. Another moment to be grateful for the invention of the camera.

Who isn't inspired to go out and create something when you look at the color palette on display here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


This is the inauguration of my website and I thought a blog would be a fun way to keep everyone up to date on my work and my thoughts. I will attempt to address issues related to design/books/art/and more.

For those of you who are interested in my children's books, I am working on a new book for Henry Holt and Company. We are currently putting together a table of contents and I have developed a few preliminary layouts. Because I am a designer first, I write my books by designing them first. This is not the usual approach publishers expect, but my editor seems to accept this method. Once I create a few design layouts, then the publisher can decide if they are interested in pursuing the project further. My layouts seem to have the green light and I am looking forward to getting under way.

I am trying to squeeze some drawing into each day over the summer. I have been developing a series called Monday Afternoons. Monday afternoons are meeting days in our department and I have spent many hours doodling on our meeting minutes. I began saving these doodles about two years ago and recently started composing them into drawings. Here is an example:
You can find a few more on my website. 

So here is a combination of design and more. I recently returned from Copenhagen, Denmark where my daughter has been living and studying for the past five months. As a designer I cannot help but love the simple, clean and smart design of the Danish. I have included a few examples below. I particularly love the toilet flushing mechanisms. "Big flush, little flush" So smart and so beautiful. Check it out.

big flush / little flush
big flush / little flush
big flush / little flush
umbrella stand 

lastly, the airport cart. So efficient
I wanted to bring it on the plane with me.

Thank you for visiting. I will keep you posted!