Kodachrome, the legacy of a colorful life

The student portfolio that I toted around Manhattan looking for my first job consisted of work that was hand drawn, hand painted, hand lettered, and personally photographed with a 4X5 camera. I spent a lot of time at the PhotoTypositor, dark room and print-making studios. The result was a mix of traditional pieces certainly rendered using analog media. And one was Kodachrome film.

It seemed to work. Six weeks after setting foot on the island, big black vinyl portfolio in hand, I was hired by Kurt Weihs and George Lois (here is a link to some of Kurt’s and George’s work on the AIGA Design Archives). I still think it was mainly because he seemed to like my Peter and The Wolf illustrated children’s book with linoleum cuts that he said reminded him of illustrated books from his childhood in Eastern Europe (he was a concentration camp survivor).

The next time I set out looking for a job, my work was all recorded on Kodachrome slides. And it remained that way for a couple decades.

Today the last roll of Kodachrome film will be processed at Dwayne’s Photo, in Parsons Kansas. It has been fascinating to follow the reaction in the design and photography community. To many of us the film means much more than a yellow box or a certain approach to rendering color details. It was a record of our lives, both personal and professional.

So as 2010 comes to an end, let us celebrate the legacy of a colorful life, and lets all hope that 2011 has the vibrance, intensity, and clarity of Kodachrome.

There is a great piece in today’s NY Times on Kodachrome and Dwayne’s Photo.
The image above contains Kodachrome packages from the 1930s and the 1960s


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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