As well-known as Dallas-based Fossil is for its watches and accessories, it’s equally familiar to trend-spotters for its unique graphics and signature tins. Since the brand’s inception in 1984, the company’s talented graphic designers have, over the years, created a unique aesthetic that playfully mines the look of the midcentury as it explores a variety of artistic styles, including collage, pencil sketching, watercolors, and paint by number.
Now, the exhibition “(Un)Common Objects: A Curious Collection of Fossil Illustrations” at the downtown Dallas Library, examines some of the brand’s best playful and nostalgic images from the last few decades, as well as the items that inspired them. The exhibit is a joint collaboration between Fossil librarian Laura Pike-Seeley and Rae Pleasant, the arts specialist of the fine arts division at the downtown library.
“Rae reached out to us in early December, and it was clear that she’s really passionate about bringing in local artists and creatives,” says Pike-Seeley. “I went through all of our art archives and old tin designs, looking for a good story to tell. I ended up seeing these images of different common vintage objects, and I loved the way our designers brought them to life. They seem everyday, but can become cool and compelling through the way they’re illustrated.”
Adds Pleasant, “I think preserving the history of fashion by valuing fabric swatches or window display props is very inspiring for the next generation of designers and curators alike. The dawn of advertising and in-store merchandising was perfected in the fashion industry, and who better to tell that story than Fossil?”
The show, which opened earlier this month and runs though April 30, pairs 14 classic super-sized graphics, along with industrial totems such as telephones, radios, typewriters, and light bulbs pulled from the company’s extensive prop closet. Although seemingly banal, these items often represent clever concepts first refined in the middle of the 20th century and that still epitomize the idea of creativity today.
“At our core, Fossil is all about curiosity, creativity, nostalgia, and playfulness” says Pike-Seeley. “Our art archive really reflects the wittiness of our brand. We wanted the exhibit’s viewers to see these common objects as more than the sum of their parts, just like our designers do.”
For Pike-Seeley, the show is an way to “get to know the brand better.” For Pleasant, it's an opportunity to draw an artier crowd into the library’s environs. The show is accompanied by a group exhibition celebrating Black History Month through February, an outer-space-themed show for March, and photography from the University of Texas at Arlington’s camera club, FOCUS, in April.
Says Pleasant, “I think an art space inside a library is very harmonious, because it seems to enhance a visitor’s experience and expectations.”