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About the Illustrators

Best of Nashville 2012



Outside it's 2012 and a mélange of wild styles diverts attention wherever you look. Inside the section headers of this year's Best of Nashville issue, however, it's a nostalgic era of equal parts Art Deco, the Jazz Age, vintage Americana and other stylistic influences from the early 20th century. The look is a hallmark of Nashville designer Joel Anderson and his Anderson Design Group, whose work can be seen throughout the issue.

A Ringling College of Art & Design graduate who's lived in Nashville since 1986 — his credits extend from the award-winning "Spirit of Nashville" poster series and Olive & Sinclair Chocolate's sumptuous packaging to an Emmy-winning stint in the art department on the locally produced 1988 CBS kids' show Hey Vern, It's Ernest! — Anderson says he takes inspiration from "the lost art of advertising design."

With his work for the Best of Nashville issue, Anderson says, he wanted to recapture some of the optimism and exuberance of the poster art surrounding the 1925 World's Fair in Paris, which assimilated styles ranging from Futurism to Constructivism to evoke a world spinning faster.

By going for the World's Fair look and vibe, he explains, he and illustrator Aaron Johnson, an intern from the Watkins College of Art & Design, wanted to reflect a time when "people were really excited about what technology would bring."

In some regards, it may have been too optimistic about the shape of things to come, he says. But in the traces of the style that linger — for example, the locomotive and airplane in the Frist Center's interior grillwork — he sees "a belief that we could build anything." That hope, and the human touch it represents, is partly what Anderson believes is driving the booming revival in vintage-style print-making.

"Everybody's got a computer now and can make their own graphics," Anderson says. "People are going back to that pre-computer age and those tactile, warm, human feels." See more of Anderson's work at

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