Mohawk Blog

Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design

Paul Shaw
Aurora Design

For the 125th anniversary of Strathmore, we decided to do something special. Together with the Opalka Gallery and Paul Shaw, we’re bringing you Paper is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design.

Paper is a substrate. It can be appreciated for its texture, its rattle, its pliability and its color. But for paper to truly come to life, it must become a surface for words and images.

In the 1890s American papermakers promoted their paper principally for its printing, folding, binding and mailing abilities. That all changed in 1895 when Horace A. Moses, founder of the Mittineague Paper Co., which would later become the Strathmore Paper Co., commissioned artist and printer Will Bradley to design the first sample book for Strathmore’s Deckle Edge Book Paper. This marked the beginning of a fascinating partnership between the papermaker and artists, designers and advertising professionals. Bradley understood that paper was an integral part of a printed design. This idea, embodied in the slogan “Paper is Part of the Picture” (coined by Strathmore in 1921 and used ever since) has defined the company’s advertising and promotional efforts.


The Strathmore Archive reflects 125 years of American design history. By drawing on that archive, this exhibition provides a rich, new perspective on the evolution of American graphic design from the 1890s to the present. It is a reminder that the history of graphic design includes the immense amount of printed ephemera that fills our lives. Even in our digital era, much design remains physical and tactile.

The exhibition was curated by Paul Shaw, designer and design historian, and is being held at the Opalka Gallery located on the Sage College of Albany campus. It can be viewed during the Opalka Gallery’s open hours (TUE through FRI, 10am-7pm; SAT 12-4pm) and continues through December 15, 2017.


Public Reception: As part of Albany’s 1st Friday, on Friday, October 6, 2017, 6:00-8:00pm Opening night reception will be held at the gallery’s location on the campus of The Sage Colleges in Albany (140 New Scotland Road). The opening reception is free and open to the public and includes light refreshments. More information can be found here.

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