The American dream was retold by means of mid-century railroad graphics
Ian Logan was originally known for making textiles and prints for British designers Mary Quant and Jeff Banks. However, his new book with Jonathan Glancey looks at the other side of the Atlantic, specifically the graphics seen on the mid-century US railroad network.
During his visit to the United States in the late 1960s, Logan was inspired by the designs he encountered on freight cars and visited them repeatedly in the 1960s and 1970s to collect items such as timetables from antique shops and his own photos of logos to make the side of the trains.
Leslie Ragan's 1935 New York Harbor artwork, created for the New York Central System
Logan's niche interest later evolved into a historical archive of magazines and newspapers, engineering drawings, posters, menus, brochures, tickets, mascots, and more, as well as hundreds of 35mm slides that he rotated.
These photographs and ephemera have been compiled into Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream, which looks at the idea of the American Dream through the lens of graphic design. The book includes a foreword by Norman Foster, who states that "the ultimate combination of machines, brands, graphics, colors and lifestyles culminated in American railroad systems."
From 1939 to 1953, the special orange blossom locomotives of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad were painted in bright citrus colors to emphasize the subtropical charm of Florida
The book shows typographic trends, branding elements, and art styles that existed at the time and is rich in detail. Elsewhere, you'll find sections on the emblems that have been adopted to varying degrees across the networks, from more regional marketing of Native American culture to the widespread use of the eagle – arguably the most iconic US symbol after the flag.
Even more fascinating is the documentation of how graphic design was used to paint the US as both an industrial powerhouse and the home of adventure. These ideas acquire a new kind of sharpness when held against the realities of the nation today.
Santa Fe stencils for applying graphicsThe Missouri Pacific eagle was designed as a powerful symbol of dynamism and speedPoster for Chessie, derived from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway kitten mascotGrif Teller's 1935 poster for the Pennsylvania Railroad from Washington with the GG1-class electric locomotive in the foreground is considered the pinnacle of modern transport
Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream will be published December 10th by Sheldrake Press. sheldrakepress.co.uk