Delicious, Minty, Microscopic Art

By Alex Gurnham

Few people have a passion for candy packaging. But then again few people, other than Robert Pasternak, have spent the last 20 years working out of a studio located next door to a candy factory. Booklets, the new vintage candy packaging slash mini-book publishing project from Pasternak and longtime graphic arts partner Ron K. White, looks and feels like a box of treats, right down to the sound they make when lightly shaken.

This isn’t the first time Pasternak and White have dabbled with candy packaging. The Winnipeg-based artists who have created comics and art together since 1985 and generally earn their keep through practical graphic arts pursuits, but their true creative drive comes from the unique opportunities available in packaging and presenting their work. In 1999 Pasternak released an issue of his Acid Man Society Comix series on a mock stick of gum. This was one of many products inspired by his affinity for packaging that combined to create his recent Visual Chew exhibit, a collection of his original novelties in production featured at the Martha Street Studio. “I love candy,” Pasternak says. “Vintage candy packaging has a very clean and simple look to it, often not using more than two or three colours, very often only using one. But the graphics are strong and iconic.” The strength and simplicity of the Booklets box is enhanced by its quirky attention to detail, referring to each mini-book as “a piece” and emblazoning the phrase “Micro Minty Books” across the front. But at the core of the idea is that old school aesthetic, no flash or flare required.

A box of Booklets contains 13 minibooks by each artist who say the idea was partly generated by the economics of self-publishing. Its 416 mini-pages fit perfectly onto a single 8.5 x 11″ sheet, making the mini-pages about 416 times cheaper to print than standard ones. Each book has a different theme, like White’s Robots, a series of expressive mechanical cartoons, or Pasternak’s collection of antique razor ads simply entitled Blades. Slowly and methodically the images are hand crafted into their book form in a process that requires time, patience and a high tolerance for pain; Pasternak admits he “can only put two packs together in one sitting before my fingers hurt.” The experience of flipping through a book your fingers can barely control only enhances your appreciation for the detail of the work it contains.

While more standard design work is a part of both artists’ lives, it is distinctive ideas like Booklets that inspire them and remain their true passion. Perhaps few people have a passion for candy packaging, but anyone can enjoy the sound and feel of 26 pieces of delicious graphic design shaking in their hand.

Booklets and other creations by Robert Pasternak can by found at robertpasternak.net. Ron K. White’s work can be viewed directly at his site, mrvolco.blogspot.com.

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