Local design firm shines a spotlight on Norman Norell

Commercial Article 06 is a multi-folded, multi-tasking bit of thoughtfully rendered, genteel-yet-evocative promo material that serves a dual purpose: one, a much-needed telling of the story of Indiana-born fashion design icon Norman Norell, and two: a readily marketable booklet that showcases the design aesthetic of a team of brothers who, in lauding their heritage by paying homage to key, Indiana-linked design luminaries, present to those who encounter their impactful image + prose their professional talents, too.

norman norell com art

An accordion-pleated folio (as in, you can open this way ’n that and read it this way ’n that), Commercial Article 06 is the latest product of Indianapolis-based design firm Commercial Artisan. It’s designed specifically to invoke folded, brown tissue garment paper patterns, something that I, as an erstwhile teen seamstress (three complete outfits for $25, fabric and notions, back in the day), instantly recognized and delighted in. Local architectural historian Connie Zeiglar researched and wrote the text, a detailed and lively narrative, edited by Nicole Sholly.

James & Jon Sholly, founders of Commercial Article

James Sholly, who, with his brother Jon, comprises the Commercial Artisan duo, did not hearken from this state, as did Norman Norell. Contrary to Mr. Norell’s fashion-founded exodus from the Heartland, James did not leave Indiana to make his way in the Big World, but rather, as a self-proclaimed army brat, made a conscious decision to put down roots in Indianapolis and make Indiana his creative command post. While Norell conquered the world from the outside, James and his brother Jon are working to do so from within, with clients as diverse as the Humane Society and activewear giant Under Armour. What they do and how they do it is in large part facilitated by 21st century technology, the communications and graphics gift that speaks loudest from within any creative Heartlander’s realm. If miles might separate the Hoosier State from its coastal city brethren, well, one’s work and connections are but an inspirational light bulb and a click away. James and Jon, as did co-founder, the late Laura Lacy-Sholly, have that one nicely figured out.

Norman Norell, of whom there is lamentably little written about, is far better honored and certainly better documented thanks to Commercial Article 06, which as a Commercial Artisan production embodies James’ personal and life-long mantra of high quality at every level. Indicative of his keeping the Hoosier Historian’s door open with one foot, James looks to the past, as the Commercial Article series makes evident. But, as suits the promotional aspirations and aesthetic of his design graphics firm, booklet 06 speaks in sleek and bold simplicity and with decisive aesthetic clarity, representative of the Sholly oeuvre. It is clear James and Jon also think and create in a decidedly forward fashion. James’ ready answer to my question, did he have a favorite font (as I, a rather Garamond Narrow-leaning kind of gal like to ask), underscored all: without hesitation, he replied, “Futura.”

Commercial Articles 01 through 06 can be purchased for $10 through their website or at select, local events, including tonight’s First Friday Commercial Article 06 party at Well Done Marketing. Commercial Article and Commercial Artisan can also be followed via Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to special guest contributor Kimann Schultz. Author-illustrator Schultz resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband & daughter. She also is the mother of two adult sons. Kimann “writes with pictures & draws with words.” She is an IU graduate with a degree in art history, her fashion illustration training received at Parsons & FIT, both in New York City. Kimann has produced numerous bridal & architectural portraits on commission, as well as literary illustrations. Kimann is also president of the Fashion Arts Society at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and a blogger for the Huffington Post. 

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