In January 2016 the New York Public Library released their digitised, out-of-copyright materials into the public domain as high-resolution downloads. Yep, that’s right, this amazing collection is now yours to use freely, without restriction, no hoops to jump through!

“These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds.”

http://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/01/05/share-public-domain-collections

As a designer, I could easily wander aimlessly around this amazing collection of 180,000+ unique & rare digital assets for hours, hopping from one image to another. So to make it more interesting for you, I’m setting myself a challenge … I want to make a set of shareable images which you, dear reader, can use in your social media. But that’s not all, I’m going to make them all in Canva.

Canva is a godsend to non-designers! It’s a free on-line, drag & drop, platform where you can design free graphics based on an enormous selection of templates (you can also use their premium content for $1 per image). To my mind it will never replace Photoshop but I have to confess that for quick social media content I am using Canva more & more lately …

So, let’s jump in & go exploring

I’m starting off in the New York category, I want to find something historical with human interest so I’m starting with photos taken by inspectors of the New York City Tenement House Department. One of the things I immediately like is that you don’t have to go from page to page, you simply scroll 50 images at a time. A quick scroll serves up no inspiration until I get to results 301-350 & there is it is … a close up of a child at a tenement window with her mother gazing out the next window … who know what dreams she is lost in?

The image just speaks a motivational quote, perhaps something about missed opportunities?

“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” ― Mercedes Lackey

“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” ― Mercedes Lackey

I’m pretty happy with that one (if you’d like to use it in your social media, simply right click on the image & select save image) …


The next image that calls to me is titled “Tenement rears with clothes lines”. It may well be a bit more challenging but let’s see how we go shall we? It’s tough finding a great quote about laundry but my one of my favorite singers from my youth Patti Smith came to the rescue (thanks Patti). I must try to find the context of the quote … I can’t say I really understand what she’s talking about but, as ever, she keeps me thinking!

"In the period where I had to live the life of a citizen - a life where, like everybody else, I did tons of laundry and cleaned toilet bowls, changed hundreds of diapers and nursed children - I learned a lot."- Patti Smith

“In the period where I had to live the life of a citizen – a life where, like everybody else, I did tons of laundry and cleaned toilet bowls, changed hundreds of diapers and nursed children – I learned a lot.”- Patti Smith


The next collection I want to explore is the fashion category … I’ve simply adore sorting through op-shop (thrift shop) collections of vintage sewing patterns. Here I’ve found a treasure trove of illustrations from the 50’s. What a great opportunity to play with some 50’s housewife memes!

Can you believe these quotes are taken from a1950’s home economics text book, teaching high school girls how to prepare for married life …

"Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people" The Good Wife's Guide 1955

“Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people” The Good Wife’s Guide 1955

Okay that was fun, let’s do a few more …

"Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him" The Good Wife's Guide 1955

“Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him” The Good Wife’s Guide 1955

& finally (see I told you I get distracted easily) …

"Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the right time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours." The Good Wife's Guide 1955

“Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the right time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.” The Good Wife’s Guide 1955


Okay, so I have to say, this one’s a bit random but the illustration which I found in “Classic Illustrated Zoologies and Related Works, 1550-1900” is  so beautiful that I had to find a quote to suit it … this one is a scream!

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called. 
” ― Jarod Kintz, This is the best book I've ever written, and it still sucks

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called. 
”
― Jarod Kintz, This is the best book I’ve ever written, and it still sucks

 


Sources for quotes: google “quotes about <what ever>” or go to

NOTE: The images available for free download are either 300 or 760pixels. You can order the original scan or an art print.


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