These imaginative films by PES (Adam Pesapane) have been viewed on YouTube millions of times. The first three that I’m featuring here are simple recipes. This kind of approach could be applied to many instructional explanations, perhaps with the addition of labels and other graphic elements. My point is (one more time) that engagement of our audience is so important. We have to look for new forms to get our message across.

“Western Spaghetti” (above) is from 2008:

“Fresh Guacamole” was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2013. In fact, at 1 minute 41 seconds, it’s the shortest film ever to get a nomination.

“Submarine Sandwich” was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. PES himself appears at the beginning:

This commercial for Honda was nominated for an Emmy in 2016.




In 1850, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest structure, as it had been for over three thousand years. By James Reynolds and John Emslie.

Below, by 1884, the Washington Monument (555 feet, 169 meters) had taken over. From Cram’s Unrivaled Family Atlas of the World.

The Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet, 324 meters) had arrived on the scene by 1896, and being nearly twice the height of the Washington Monument, it presented a scale problem. Solved here by cropping off a large piece of it. From Rand, McNally & Co.’s Universal Atlas of The World.

After a number of buildings held the title, the Empire State Building (1,250 feet, 381 meters) became the leader in 1931. This elevation is in the Art Deco lobby, which according to the building’s website, took 18 months to restore in 2009. The whole building took just 13 months to build.

Photograph: Ken Thomas

The World Trade Center (1,368 feet, 417 meters) took the record away from the Empire State Building in 1972. The Tobu World Square theme park in Japan has scale models of 102 buildings from around the world. Their World Trade Center is 65.5 feet (20 meters) tall.

Photograph: Fredhsu

A 2008 gatefold for Condé Nast Traveler that includes the soon-to-be number one, the Burj Khalifa (2,717 feet, 828 meters), a number of previous record holders, some landmark towers in terms of design, and some other towers that were planned back then.
Click on the image for a larger version of the illustration.

Illustration by Bryan Christie Design:

Retro tech


Everyone had a tape recorder, and presentations were on slides, in a carousel. Jim Golden made these GIFs.
See more of his bygone technology images here:

Early cellphones were bulky.

It was the beginning of the end for the conventional telephone.

William Shatner presents the latest in computers in an early 1980s advertisement.
The Commodore VIC 20 was the best selling model of it’s time.

I was lent a Commodore 64 to illustrate it for a magazine. I even tried to use it. End of story. Below, the airbrushed illustration. The overlay which carries the labels is rolled back.

Email was new and mysterious in 1981.

The Macintosh Portable (1989 to 1991) had a fabulous two megabytes of RAM, and a black and white screen. Weighing in at 16 pounds (7.2 kilograms), it was not exactly lightweight. The cost: $7,300 (more than $14,000 in today’s dollars).

Retro tech by Guillaume Kurkdjian. He featured recently in a blog post:
His website:

Below, a Minitel terminal.

“Piano key” cassette player.

Vectrex video game console.



The magic of infographics takes us back in time. This is the kind of engagement I’m always ranting on about in this blog. I’ve tried increasing my medication, but I still get very excited when I see this kind of visual explanation.

Produced for Expedia by NeoMam Studios with animations by This Is Render.

NeoMam Studios:
This Is Render:

In the analog area, the “Monuments Past and Present” series of books uses an overlay to add a reconstructed view. I first discovered the Rome book on a visit there a very long time ago. Before we had computers, let alone animated GIFs.



The publishers are Vision:



Road signs
Perhaps the most common arrows. There must be billions of them out there.

I like chevrons, and I don’t know why. Below, an Australian example.

The exact spot
Making accurate maps of Britain in the mid-twentieth century required these “minor revision points.” Precisely-located arrows that acted as fixed points for revising maps. Elaine Owen (who works for the Ordnance Survey) came across an archive of photographs at Manchester’s Central Library. She’s published thousands of them on Timepix, a work-in-progress website that geo-locates historic images.

The Golden Arrow
A classic luxury train that ran from London (Victoria Station) to the English Channel ferries at Dover. Pulled here by “Tangmere,” a Bulleid Light Pacific locomotive.

I just happen to have a Hornby model of another one of the Battle of Britain Class locomotives in my studio.

Air Mail
In the 1920s, a system of about 1,500 beacon towers, standing on huge arrows, directed aircraft carrying mail across the United States. The arrows were originally painted bright yellow. Several of them still exist, although many are gradually eroding back into the landscape. This one is in Utah, about 80 miles north of the Grand Canyon.

Photograph: Dppowell.

Here’s a preserved example of the full setup at Newark Heath Airport in Ohio (about 55 miles from where I’m sitting).

Image from Google Street View.

A London tourist sign points to eight destinations.

Photograph: Source

Trylon and Perisphere


These simple geometric shapes were the centerpiece of New York’s 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The 610 ft high (186 meters) Trylon was attached by a walkway to the 180 ft diameter (55 meters) Perisphere.

Inside the Perisphere was a diorama by Henry Dreyfuss called “Democracity,” a vision of a city of the future.

Of course, there were many Trylon and Perisphere souvenirs. Pass the salt and pepper, please.

The World’s Fair site.

A promotional poster.

The Trylon Theater on Queens Boulevard was showing movies until 1999.

Tiling below the ticket window.

The Unisphere (from the 1964 World’s Fair) stands on the same site today. I featured it here:
This is a souvenir model.



PostlerFerguson, a London studio, designed these satellite models for Papafoxtrot.

I have the Spectr-R (second from the left) on a shelf in my studio. The packaging is superb.

Only the Cargo Capsule (below) seems to be available at the moment.

A clip from “The Known Universe,” by the American Museum of Natural History. Click on the image to see the animation. Watch the full video here:

A 2015 satellite interactive from Quartz:

Infographic by Alberto Lucas López for the South China Morning Post (from 2014). Click on the image for a larger version.

Sputnik 1 was the first satellite, launched in 1957. The 23” diameter (58 cm) sphere sent out radio pulses for 22 days. This is a replica at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The Vanguard 1 launched in 1958. It was the first solar-powered satellite, and although it’s mission ended in 1964, it’s still in orbit.

KalamSat, the smallest and lightest satellite, was launched last year. Designed by a high school team led by 18 year-old Rifath Sharook, and 3D printed, it flew a four-hour mission. Vital statistics: it’s 1.5″ (3.8 cm) wide and weighs 2.26 ounces (64 grams).

The International Space Station is the largest satellite.

It’s about the size of a U.S. football field.

Both images: NASA.



Many iconic movies of the mid-twentieth century featured the work of this legendary graphic designer. Like these three Hitchcock movies.

He also designed many well-known American logos.

A Google Doodle, lovingly-made by Matthew Cruickshank, celebrated Saul’s birthday. See the animation here:
Matthew’s website:



These graphics feel like breath of fresh air, coming straight from Paris. In terms of engagement, they hit all the right notes. See a lot more on Guillaume’s website:

Below, some retro tech animations.

Icons for La Poste, the French postal service.

For Welcome to the Jungle, a French recruitment company.

Problems parking the camper van.

Another animation for Welcome to the Jungle.

Cityscapes of New York and Philadelphia for NRG Energy, a U.S. power company.

Animated icons for Le Tank, a coworking space in Paris.

Unusual advertising


It was a different world back then. Everyone smoked, even astronomers in the observatory.
“Have I discovered a new galaxy, or is it just the smoke from my cigarette?”

Your doctor would recommend his favorite brand of cigarettes.

Even Santa liked a few puffs before getting on his sleigh.

Airline food in the 1950s.

The modern reality.

Cars clearly were glamorous. It’s a shame that they would only go a few miles on a gallon of gasoline.

“Flight-Sweep Styling.” Chrome-cleaner anyone?

In those days, babies drank soda.