Book Review: Cigarette Pack Art

Addictive graphics

There are some wonderful pack designs in these pages but it has one serious editorial flaw because every other spread is in black and white. Rather typical of visual books published in Britain up until the nineties. Color printing is a lot cheaper now and if it was published in the last few years it would all be in color and printed in China.

The lack of color doesn't detract from the Mullen's interesting text and he's certainly done a lot of research into the background of large and small tobacco companies in Europe and America. Most of the packs are shown collected into still-life shots from above rather than treat each pack as a separate image, the sort of thing that is so typical of Schiffer books for collectors.

The text ends around the early seventies (it was published in 1979) and as smoking is now actively discouraged in western countries the age of the well designed pack is probably over. Another book, from 2000, is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Branding and Design in Cigarette Packaging which I think is better than Mullen's book. For one thing the three hundred packs are all in color (and printed in China) and the focus is more on pack graphics rather than history of the tobacco companies but both books are an excellent reference a to a little slice of discarded printed ephemera.

Cigarette Pack Art is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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I found it rather annoying that every other spread was in black and white.

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Right: the only picture in the book about cigarette cards.

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Probably better than Mullen's book is this one. All the packs are in color in a nicely designed book.

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