Green unicorns, purple camels and magenta ponies: Augustus Jansson’s 1903 Ink Beasts Parade.
Sometime in 1903, a man of Swedish descent named Augustus Jansson began a 7-year stint working as a designer for Queen City Publishing of Cincinatti. His brief weas to showcase the company’s range of coloured inks, their typography and printing prowess. He produced a wildly imaginative and totally original series called the Ink Beasts Parade featuring orange-yellow Ibexiatucus, green unicorns, purple camels and magenta ponies. He also produced a series of Art Nouveau-esque, doll-like characters for Queen City. The work he produced for Queen City was way ahead of its time and stands the test of timelessness. His designs have a distinct art deco feel and figuratively mash up the feel of playing card figures with processionary imagery more at home in a classical Greek or Roman frieze or on the wall of an Egyptian tomb.
Jansson was born to Swedish parents in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1866. By the time he began work at Queen City Ink, he’d already established a reputation for his totally unique poster designs. As well as a designer of ads, he was also an expert postcard and greeting card artist, a table designer and cartoonist.
In 1904 he wrote and illustrated Hobby Hoss Fair, an illustrated children’s book. The Cambridge Chronicle called the book “one of the most unique” children’s books that year. His work for Queen City is “most unique” too.