Famous figureheads get clever letterheads

If there’s anything I’m a sucker for, it’s design and history. And the fabulously named Moo.com stationery company just won my heart with a promotional collection they created that combines both.

Their Famous Stationery collection features business cards and letterheads for a bunch of famous folks like Winston Churchill and Benjamin Franklin. The structured each design around the figure, letting the individual’s work and personality guide the aesthetic.

The results are a total embodiment of the influential figures, but with a fresh, modern touch:

Charles Darwin’s set looks like it could have been torn from one of his notebooks. The business cards feature delicate pen drawings of animals like cheetahs and butterflies that have a scientific feel. The animals are split in half — matching up with others in the set — which hints at the evolutionary process.

Moo.com Darwin business cards

Jane Austen’s are printed on muted pastel paper. Both the stationery and business cards feature silhouettes that are reminiscent of the Victorian times. However, some include Austen quotes in the shape of her silhouette. The text is curvy and thin, exactly what I would imagine her script to be.Moo.com Austen cards

I think the designs really excel here because it manages to create a recognizable brand for each of these individuals in a subtle, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. Vincent van Gogh’s set doesn’t include any of his paintings, but the simulation of his painting style is unmistakable. Albert Einstein’s cards are stark and simple, a nod to his scientific mindset. The only hint of Einstein’s accomplishments is the bolding of e = mc2 in his address.

Moo.com Einstein cardsMoo.com van Gogh





Everything from the iconography to the font choices reflects the people in question. Many of Moo.com’s designs don’t even list the people’s titles, but it doesn’t have to. Even if I had no idea who these people were, I’d get a pretty good idea by looking at this collection.  That’s exactly what business cards should do. But somehow, in a world obsessed with personal branding, most of the cards I’m handed are painfully generic. Customizing stationery is a huge undertaking, but Moo.com shows just how worthwhile it is.

And that, my friends, is why this is a brilliant advertising strategy on the website’s part. The company shows what’s possible with carefully crafted design work and lets customers know they can have it, too.

As someone who has struggled through designing and redesigning business cards and resumes, I’m majorly impressed by Moo.com’s design team. Now, to come up with the unmistakable Shayna aesthetic…

Color me surprised

“Boston Massacre” by Larry Rivers, 1970 (Photo from legendaryauctions.com)

The Boston Massacre was many things: violent, extreme, inciting, maybe even a little blown out of proportion. What doesn’t come to mind when thinking about the Boston Massacre – or really any massacre, for that matter – is the word colorful. When a whole lot of death is involved, color isn’t people’s first concern.  And the hues that do come to mind are not too cheerful: a lovely snow white tinged with blood red and mud brown.

When I turned the corner of the Harn – the museum I interned at last year – for the first time in months, I was sucked in by the bold screenprints splashed across the wall under the words “Boston Massacre.” There were greens and pinks and blues, all neon everything. Color layered on color topped with guns. Every figure, with sketch marks left for all to see, was proudly equipped with a weapon. Some leisurely held their firearms to the side, some led the way with their bayonets in the air, and others left me staring straight down the barrel.

It was a jarring juxtaposition – the cheery colors and the cold cruelty of the soldiers. The technique screamed Warhol, and I was taken aback that I had never seen the pieces before, fairly certain I had, at one point or another, gotten my hands on most things the man had made in his lifetime.

Turns out that the artist responsible was Larry Rivers. Somehow, combing galleries and museums and the dark recesses of the Internet for contemporary art had never led me in his direction. Still, it only took glancing at his work and the year to realize he’d been quite the inspiration to my beloved Warhol, which a little research confirmed.

Rivers was a mid-20th century painter stuck somewhere between abstract expressionism and the beginnings of pop. His pieces throw together the historic and the modern. The last Civil War veteran is captured in bold, abstracted planes of color. Men in old-fashioned Dutch attire are juxtaposed with a Dutch Masters cigar box. In much of his work, the colors are far more muted than in his Boston Massacre series. But somehow, Rivers knew. For the Boston Massacre, the bold colors make sense.

“Boston Massacre” by Larry Rivers, 1970 (Photo from: liveauctioneers.com)

The bright backgrounds contrast with simple drawings of men and guns to demonstrate the intensity of the event. Most of the men are featureless, mere shapes with splotches of color and a few lines to indicate their form. They’re not important. What’s relevant is the graphic result of the arguably minimal event. These five dead men made a huge impact, and by surrounding them with neon colors, Rivers shows the bold effects they had on the formation of America, despite their anonymity.

It’s times like this that keep me hooked on museums. On a random Wednesday, I wandered into a place I thought I knew every inch of and left madly in love. There’s nothing quite like it, I thought, scribbling “Larry Rivers” on my palm with the guestbook pen. I then promptly shoved my hand deep into my blazer as I walked out into the bipolar Florida air, the reminder of a new collection of works to explore pulsing in my pocket.