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If you're any sort of artist and have ever lived on the West Coast, chances are you are familiar with Flax Art and Design. The Flax family has enjoyed serving the creative community in the Bay Area through their legendary San Francisco retail store for over 72 years. Since 1938, they've become well known for carrying an incredible breadth of product, providing customers with a courteous and knowledgeable staff, and their ability to inspire creativity through the thoughtful presentation of merchandise.
above: San Francisco's oldest and most beloved art supply store at 1699 Market Street
Now, Flax is offering a contest to design the artwork for the masthead atop their Facebook page. Their original and legendary "F" logo, originally designed by respected graphic designer Lou Danziger, must be incorporated into the design and the winning designer will receive a $100 gift card as well as having their work featured on the Flax facebook timeline.
First off, a bit about the legendary Flax "F" which, if you did not know, is in the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
above: the iconic "F" for Flax by legendary designer Lou Danziger, above right, is made up of 12 perfect squares
Harvey Flax, who ran the Los Angeles Flax store, commissioned a young designer named Louis Danzinger in 1949 to create a new trademark. The logo was originally intended to support Harvey’s private label program. The hot item at that time was a new formula of rubber cement that required just one coat (still called One-Coat today), and Harvey had drums of it in the back room for repackaging. Later the logo was adopted and shared with the other Flax businesses across the country, who also used it for the joint Flax catalog (see below).
above: 1968 Flax catalog No.9
Danzinger is one of the most respected graphic designers in America and currently teaches at his (and my own) alma mater, Art Center College of Design. He has created work for Microsoft, General Lighting, and A & M Records among others, and won many awards along the way. Danzinger’s goal was in “taking a minimal amount of material and a minimal amount of effort—nothing wasted—to achieve maximum impact.” Here he takes 12 perfect squares and creates a simple pattern with dramatic impact.
above: 12 perfect squares make up the F by Danziger for Flax
Featured in the book American Modernism: graphic design 1920-1960, the authors state “The ‘F’ is simply constructed, bold in weight and adaptable to many applications.”
The Flax Facebook Timeline art contest details and rules:
Enter Flax's Facebook cover photo contest for a chance to win a $100 gift card and see your artwork on the FLAX Facebook Timeline.
Who can enter: Artists of all levels are welcome to enter. Artwork must be original and all mediums will be considered.
What do you win? Winners will be chosen monthly and each will receive a $100 FLAX gift card. We will keep a permanent archive of winning art in our Facebook photo albums.
Deadline for Entries: April 30, 2012.
Design Requirements and Guidelines:
• Flax F Artwork must measure 851 x 315 pixels (8.85″ wide x 3.28″ high) and our original “F” logo must be incorporated in the design. The Flax “F” has a special history (which you know know if you've read this post) and you can see past examples of submitted entries to our catalog cover contest below.
• Submit digitally by email or mail us your original work and we will scan it. Important note: entries will not be returned! Finalists will be required to sign a letter confirming sole ownership of artwork. All published work becomes the property of FLAX art & design, with reuse of the work by the artist limited to self-promotion. Winners will be notified via email.
The artwork that graced the FLAX art & design catalogs for over 20 years (1984 – 2007) was creative and intriguing. Their call to artists enlisted work from art students, major advertising firms, freelance artists and casual art enthusiasts. In fact, their catalog cover contests were often prepared as a class assignment.
Take a peek at some of Flax's favorites over the years:
And when you visit their store, take a look at their Wall of Fame where the catalog covers hang proudly.
FLAX Art Store History:
above: 437 Kearny Street, the first FLAX location, 1938
Herman and Sylvia Flax, with their son Jerome, established Flax Artist's Materials in downtown San Francisco in 1938. Having lost virtually everything in the Great Depression, Herman took his family west from New Jersey and opened a tiny art supply store. Herman's three brothers also established independent, successful art supply outlets in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and eventually spread to Phoenix, Orlando and Atlanta. In 1952 Herman passed away at an early age, and upon returning from military service, Herman and Sylvia’s youngest son, Philip, joined the business alongside his brother Jerry. The Flax brothers grew close to their customers, becoming well known for their generous support of struggling artists and the local arts.
above: 255 Kearny at Bush, 1950
In 1975 Philip took full control of the company after Jerry left to pursue other interests. Then in 1981, after a more than 50-year presence downtown, the store moved to its current location on Market Street. With a small operation in the back of the store the company ventured into the mail order business in 1984. Within a year Flax moved its headquarters 10 miles south to Brisbane, providing the space needed to support the growing catalog business. In a continuation of the Flax culture of engaging the artist community, participants in an annual catalog cover competition created all the catalog covers. Over the years the Flax catalog was able to give over 100 artists national exposure to their talents.
above: 1699 Market Street, 2012
The store grew to 32,000 sq. ft. in 1997 after an expansion and remodel, which attracted a high number of new customers to the fresh look and expanded offerings. A makeover of the front exterior gave the store landmark status and a stop along the tourist route. With the new tag line “where creative people shop”, the transition was complete – Flax had become much more than an art store. The increase in size and variety has led to the Flax retail store becoming a “destination” for a unique shopping experience.
above: 1699 Market Street, 2012
FLAX has been voted by readers of SF Weekly as the "Best Art Supply Store in the Bay Area" every year since 2001.
Once again, submit your entries digitally or by email before April 30th, 2012. Winners will be notified by e-mail.
FLAX art & design
1699 Market Street
San Francisco, Ca 94103
A special thanks to Howard Flax who writes the Flax Art Blog for additional images and information