Posted on Leave a comment

Vintage Noir

As a sideline, I sell reproductions of a range of images. I have available many maps, fashion plates, photography, travel ephemera and much more. This post is about images I have with a noir feel.

Film Noir

Browns Landing - rural noir photogrspha
Brown’s Landing Rice Creek

French film critic Nino Frank originally coined the term noir in 1946. In the 1970s, it was applied retrospectively to Hollywood films of the 1940s and 1950s. The literal translation is Black Film, but a closer rendering is Dark Film.

Darkness is key to the genre. It may be literal, as in classic 1940s thrillers such as The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep. It may be metaphorical, as in the many films with stories involving femmes fatales and tough, cynical detectives.

Definitions

Monochrome photo of Dallas at night 1942
Dallas 1942

There is no clear agreement on what is or isn’t a noir film. Common elements include low-key lighting, stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning. They often use low, or skewed camera angles. They typically have unusually convoluted story lines. Voice over narration is a particular noir hallmark. The most extreme example is perhaps Sunset Boulevard, where the narrator is dead.

Key Themes

Monochrome photo showing girl alone in bar
Girl alone in bar

Crime, usually murder, is a feature of almost all noir films. Greed or jealousy are frequent motivations. The central character is often flawed or morally compromised. They are typically drawn from a narrow range of archetypes — hardboiled detectives, femme fatales, corrupt policemen or jealous husbands. Amnesia, false suspicions, accusations of betrayal or double-cross are common.

The genre is associated with big city settings, but small towns and rural locations also feature.

In noir films, it is always raining, always nighttime. When it isn’t raining, it is hot. Whatever the setting, corruption is endemic – in modern parlance, ‘institutional corruption’ is rife.

Modern Usage

Pittsburgh street at night
Pittsburgh Street at night

The term has evolved to describe a mood or feeling. The best known usage is perhaps the genre of Scandinavian or Nordic noir. This is crime fiction written in Scandinavia, typically in a realistic style with a dark, morally complex setting. Dark secrets and hidden hatreds hide behind a facade of equality, social justice, and liberalism.

I have chosen the images scattered through this post from those originally tagged ‘noir’ in my old shop. If any are of interest, whether for their own sake or as part of a decorative scheme, please get in touch.

Posted on Leave a comment

Panchromatica Designs

architectural illustration

As I said in my last post, I used to have an online business on Etsy, known as Panchromatica Designs, selling reproductions of vintage illustrations. At its peak, I had about 600 items in that shop.

These included :

  • maps,
  • theatre posters,
  • Japanese prints,
  • photographs,
  • ocean liner postcards,
  • propaganda posters,
  • comic books,
  • architectural illustrations,
  • fashion plates and,
  • a huge variety of other materials.

The listed items were only a fraction of what I had available. You can get a small taste from the WordPress blog I set up, also called Panchromatica Designs, although all the Etsy links are of course broken.

I closed the business to concentrate on my own work, but still have all the files. I’m intending to sell a selection of these vintage illustrations here, but only as part of a wider strategy focussing on B2B. Images I sold through Etsy were used in locations as varied as pubs, escape rooms and even tattoo parlours. The range I have is equally suitable for B&Bs, guest houses, reception areas or any public facing area.

Items listed here will be for sale at retail prices, but the wider range will be available on wholesale terms. I will have a wholesale price list and line sheet available soon. If you think I can help you in the meantime, please get in touch.

Posted on 1 Comment

Looking for Vintage Illustrations?

I used to have an online business selling reproductions of vintage illustrations such as maps, posters, Japanese prints and a huge variety of other materials. I gave this up to concentrate on my own work, but still have thousands of scanned images available. This post is simply putting down a marker for the future for anyone looking for vintage illustrations. I’m slowly going to add a selection to the site, but in the meantime I’m happy to talk about providing images for interiors and similar. In the past I know they have been used in bars and cafés, escape rooms, even tattoo parlours, but they are equally suitable for B&Bs, guest houses, reception areas or any public facing area. You give me a theme and I almost certainly meet your requirements.

Depending on the nature of the original, I’m flexible on sizes. Some can be printed almost to bedsheet size, others were originally tiny and don’t really scale up. Others again can be resized quite dramatically. Strangely, this is often easiest with the poorest quality originals, such as comic books from the 1940s and 1950s.

Here’s a selection to whet your appetite. They are not in the shop yet, but are available for sale. I’m going to post some guideline prices soon.

If any of this interests you, then get in touch. You can find more blog posts on this topic here.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pulp Fiction

As well as my own work I have a shop on Etsy selling reproductions of a wide range of graphic design, maps, comics, travel posters, advertisements etc. I’ve started playing with some of these, removing text and making freestanding pictures from them. You can see what is currently available here, while I have posted a couple of examples below.

The travel agent only mentioned jelly fish...
The travel agent only mentioned jelly fish…

A drink under the stars
A drink under the stars