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Comments (7) Posted 05.07.11 | PERMALINK | PRINT | SINGLE PAGE

Jessica Helfand

Mothers Day Special: Baby, It's You!



The Dionne Quintuplets — Five of a Kind, 1938

Before everyone had cameras, the baby picture was the purview of Mom and Dad. Among so many other things, we have them to thank for remembering to capture us as we once were: smaller, rounder, goofier, balder. (Although, in some cases, less bald.)

"Diaper backward spells repaid," the distinguished social critic Marshall McLuhan once observed. And who are we to argue with that? 

Today, in honor of Mother's Day, we've gathered some of our favorite images from an earlier era — before apps and tags, when pools had nothing to do with Flickr. Some came to us with the scalloped edges redolent of the early Sixties, while others arrived indelibly tinged with the citrus hues from the earth-tone-Seventies. People from all over the world sent in school snapshots, dog-eared wallet photos, and faded Polaroids, all offering solid evidence of the degree to which we all made atrocious wardrobe choices. (Come to think of it, maybe that was Mom and Dad's purview, too.) Throughout the images that follow are striking similarities between then and now — a preserved jawline, an enduring smirk — and just as many surprising differences. (See "balder," above.)

Every last one of us began as a tinier version of what we are now, and if ever there was a moment to stop and consider that fact, today is it: the day we remember our dear Mothers, who sacrificed their sleep and their waistlines and so much more.

Thank you, mothers of design people. And Happy Mother's Day to all.


Antonio Alcalá


Sean Adams


Deborah Adler

Keira Alexandra
Keira Alexandra

Mariana Amatullo
Mariana Amatullo
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Comments (7)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT >>

Wonderful!

Thanks.
Swiss
05.08.11 at 11:07

So much fun!
Thanks Jessica.
Gaby
05.09.11 at 08:29

my first word?
"taxi!"
laurie rosenwald
05.09.11 at 11:23

Laurie, that suits you so perfectly. Perhaps next Mother's Day we'll do a post on design people and their first words!
Jessica Helfand
05.09.11 at 12:01

Wow! This is a really great idea Jessica.
Here is a little music to go with the photographs from the 1963 LP Introducing the Beatles.

Happy Mother’s Day.


Carl W. Smith
05.10.11 at 08:39

That was fun. Made my day. Thanks Jessica.

Sylvia
05.10.11 at 06:36


Oh, if only they could stay that age forever.

Which age is that?
David Lorczak
05.11.11 at 09:30



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Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer and a former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Communications Arts and Eye magazines. A member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director's Hall of Fame, Helfand received her B.A. and her M.F.A. from Yale University where she has taught since 1994.
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DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Jessica Helfand

Scrapbooks: An American History
Yale University Press, 2008

Reinventing the Wheel
Winterhouse Editions, 2002

Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture
Winterhouse Editions, 2001

Looking Closer 3
Allworth Press, 1999

Paul Rand: American Modernist
winterhouse Editions, 1998

More books by contributors >>