Information Graphics

Sunset has long striven to provide practical information in clear and concise ways, in part a legacy born of the lean Depression years, matured with wartime paper scarcity. Its characteristic graphic treatments--including how-to cartoon-strip instructions and superimposition of text on photographs and drawings--realize this mandate.

Garden entomology
Gnocchi cartoon strip
Japanese beetles

Left: Informational graphics’ use of dramatic photography and typographic overlays convert garden entomology into art. June 1958, p. 77. (photo: Clyde Childress)

Center: The step-by-step cartoon-strip style of instruction was successfully used over many years. Here we see that gnocchi made its way to Sunset’s west long before restaurants like Spago were conceived. October 1938, p. 21. (illus.: Ruth Taylor White)

Right: Garden pests are as constant a presence in the magazine as they are in Western gardens; this time, the Japanese beetle is the villain. May 1978, p. 268. (photo: Bill Ross)

Kitchen interior
Garden ladders
Pan American Highway

Left: “Bright and spacious, new kitchen blends into family sitting room and dining area. It opens through French doors at right to terrace, pool.” There can be no doubt about what the editors want the reader to notice here. March 1982, p. 122.(photo: Don Normark)

Center: A fine crop of garden ladders, demonstrating characteristic Sunset interplay of image and text. January 1981, p. 54. (photo: Norman A. Plate)

Right: “An isolated segment of the Pan American Highway from Guatemala through Nicaragua,” nicely depicted in an early example of a now-familiar style of map. November 1948, p. 6.

A gallery of beans
Landscape design
Recreational vehicles
Western-grown potatoes

Left to right:

Jewel-like portrayal of bean varieties, carefully described: a classic Sunset presentation. March 1997, p. 122. (photo: Deborah Denker)

Floral border landscaping design explained through clear diagramming juxtaposed with text. November 1948, p. 121.

“Family checks out recreational vehicles for rent on a lot in Southern California. These are average-sized models. Rates vary, but figure at least $100 a week plus a mileage charge.” May 1973, p. 69. (photo: Gerald R. Fredrick)

“Western-grown examples of the four major groups of potatoes­; one variety of each of the thin-skinned types and two of the russets.” A particularly attractive and informative portrait of the Western spud. April 1978, p. 126. (photo: Glenn Christiansen)

Sunset Magazine cover. August 1935
Pruning techniques
Ranch house floor plan

Left: 1935 July cover. This paper cut-out illustration brings together recreational activity, a rather rustic vacation home, and a Western landscape.

Center: Proper pruning technique is a continuing theme, frequently illustrated with diagrams. December 1948, p. 80.

Right: Add-on wings, protected spaces, characteristic features of the ranch house. November 1946, p. 27.