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Walling Process: 1926

Rosslyn, Virginia, 1926. "Walling Process Inc." A graphics business owned by one George Walling. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.

Rosslyn, Virginia, 1926. "Walling Process Inc." A graphics business owned by one George Walling. National Photo Co. Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Cell phones and digital art

Thanks for giving some insight to those two posters! 16 millon telephones, eh?? Today there are almost 3 billion cellphones!

I'd question the "Amazing" commenter. The process is different, but I don't think today's artwork is necessarily created "in a fraction of the time" or "with superior results." Both could go either way: digital art is not necessarily quicker, and you could argue either version's superiority.

"Misuse of dairy bottles"

Dairies used to complain somewhat that they were losing money when customers found other uses for their milk bottles instead of returning them. I see two here that won't be going back to be refilled.

The process

I'm not sure what Ray, in his comment "Amazing" below, means by "superior results," but I think the case can be made that the golden age of graphic design and illustration ran from roughly about 1900 to 1960. In the long process of learning and mastering the then-complicated techniques involved in producing the finished result, usually under the mentorship of experienced craftsmen, one also absorbed the fundamental principles of design. The techniques are certainly easier and faster these days, but pointing, clicking and dragging alone aren't enough to produce good design. Look at the average web site.


Before you were on the web you worked underneath it.

And, I hate to be a nitpicker but...

I don't believe that any of this work is actually Art Deco. It's a bit too early for that. The movement really only began in 1925 in France and was unlikely to have filtered down to graphic shops on this side of the pond. Whatever it is, it has the sinuousness of Art Nouveau but I don't know if they still called it that in the twenties.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Lead-Based Inks

Two of the major hazards to which these gents were exposed every day. Pulling a huge squeegee repeatedly is murder on the wrists and hands. Ergonomically-designed squeegees didn't appear until the nineties.

Walk into any busy screenprint studio and the stench of the chemicals is overpowering. "The smell? Oh, you get so you don't even notice it."

Another one...

I'm also a commercial artist. I've done a lot of art for T-shirts that get silk screened. Totally different than the traditional methods shown here, though. I do a full colour painting that gets photographed, Photoshopped and then silk screened in full four(or more) colours on the shirts.

Like JohansenNewman, I love seeing period shots -- that place looks just like an art studio should! And Johansen -- What? You don't wear a tie to work in your studio? Well okay, I don't either, but I've sure ruined many an item of clothing due to my extreme sloppiness while working.

Not so Safe Money

The first Google search that comes up for F.H. Smith is a reference to its chairman and seven board members being indicted for mail fraud in 1930.

I guess some things haven't changed too much in ~80 years.

Color me impressed

What a fabulous photo! It's strange to see such clean, sharp Art Deco pieces in such a filthy surrounding. On full view, the giant cobweb at the top was the first thing I noticed.

I only wish I could purchase that beautiful "Christmas festival" poster on the far left.

Lyon Village

is just a few short miles away from the sign shop, between Wilson Boulevard and Lee Highway in Arlington. My first residence in Arlington (1964) was the Cardinal House Apartments, across the street from the Lyon Village Community Center. Lyon Village today is a beautiful and very desirable neighborhood, just as it must have been in the 1920s.

Good art, sloppy shop

So many of the workshops we see on Shorpy are a mess. Cobwebs, thick dust, scraps of cloth, buckets of paint and turps, and what looks like a cigarette butt on the table in the right foreground.

When I was in the screen printing business I learned that ink travels to wherever you do not want it.

The mystery poster may be for Fatima cigarettes; if I had this and the other posters we see here I would have a tidy sum in my retirement account.

A great studio view!

As an illustrator, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to get a peek into a period studio in such detail. This appears to be a graphic ad studio specializing in silk screening. The guy on the right is pulling the ink over the screen. The others look like they are posing with proofs. I doubt the guy at the easel has even a drop of paint or ink on that brush, but maybe he is touching it up for presentation to the client.

This is from an era of silk screened posters as art, and it would continue into into the 30s with wonderful WPA prints being made this very way. Too bad this kind of commercial art is a thing of the past.

I find it amusing that the artists are wearing the proverbial "smocks" over their shirts and ties, and pleated pants. Not the way I go to the studio!

If only more pictures like this existed. There are now whole magazines dedicated to giving readers glimpses into artists' working places. Imagine an entire book of period studios like this!

Walling Process

In the graphics industry, "process" indicates silkscreen ("screen process") printing.

Lyon Village, advertised in the sign just above the artist's head, is still there. It's a lovely community almost completely shaded by trees, but it's not a suburb anymore. It's right in the heart of Arlington, Virginia (just a bit off an arterial road) just a couple of blocks from the edge of the high-rise office towers that have spread out from Rosslyn.

Flowers From Hitler

Did Adolf pose for a poster when he was in art school? That sure looks like him in the poster the Mike White -looking guy is holding.

Senses Tingling

Check out that web at top. Jeepers!

It is also fascinating to see these images created by hand rather than the current digital process. Incredibly artistic endeavor.

Looks like fun

but I think I'd prefer Adobe Illustrator.


Such tedious detail and intense (and messy) work. 83 years later all this is done by one person, in a fraction of the time, with superior results, in a spotless environment with a computer and printer.

... MA

The man with FATI over his head is an ad for Fatima cigarettes. A saying current in 1918 was "Ashes to Ashes / Dust to Dust / if the Camel's don't get you / the Fatimas must"


If ever there was a Shorpy picture I want to see in color, this is it. Who's up for colorizing? Just the artwork in color alone would be interesting to see.

(Though it wouldn't be as interesting as I first thought; initially I thought the floor was covered with spattered paint before I realized there was mold damage to the emulsion.)

Art Deco

This is a wonderful array of (now) vintage Art Deco posters. I wonder what they'd go for on ebay...


Apparently, spelling wasn't foremost with the folks at Forst's Formost Hams or it wasn't foremost in the Walling Process.

Frappucino, anyone?

The two most interesting pieces (to me) are obscured so I can't see them. The man peeking out from the left pillar (FATI____) and the two images of power lines with words underneath.

Also on the left appears to be an ad for "ice coffee" - I don't know why, but I've always thought of this as more of a modern thing. I'd love a frozen coffee right now, but I think the men of Walling Process are years away from the first Slurpee machine.

Safe Money

7% First Mortgage Bonds.
No loss to any investor in 53 years.

How times have changed!

I bet all that sticky ink got all over their shoes and cuffs despite the overalls.

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