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My ever changing moods
James McMullan Collection: Roche Laboratories brochure for Taractan, 1965.
April 13, 2013

My ever changing moods

By: bethkleber

Well before the boom of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, and the host of problems that came with it, drug advertising was aimed almost exclusively at physicians. Designers were charged with describing and dramatizing a drug’s effectiveness in highly abstract terms, since the product’s physical shape and form were largely irrelevant to its promotion. Some of the most artistically progressive design of the 1950s and 60s emerged from this highly specialized area; design pioneers Herb Lubalin, Will Burtin, and Chermayeff & Geismar all did work for pharmaceutical firms.

James McMullan illustrated a series of haunting brochures for Roche Laboratories (a division of the Swiss company Hoffman – La Roche) advertising the promise of Taractan, an anti-psychotic medication. They feature a collage of photography and illustration, and beautifully capture a mood of isolation and confusion.

Collage of black, gray and blue photography and illustration, including a man's face in profile and a person riding a motorcycle, with black geometric bars cutting in.

 
James McMullan Collection: Roche Laboratories brochure for Taractan, 1964.

Collage of red and gray photography and illustration, including a woman's face in the distance and a male figure amid geometric shapes.

 
James McMullan Collection: Roche Laboratories brochure for Taractan, 1964.

Yellow, brown and grey collage of photography and illustration, including a woman's face and a doll and a dog with blank speech bubbles.

 
James McMullan Collection: Roche Laboratories brochure for Taractan, 1963.

Black, grey and violet illustration of a woman's face, a lacy curtain and a flowerpot.

 
James McMullan Collection: Roche Laboratories brochure for Taractan, 1963.

In a future post I’ll highlight the brilliant work of Chermayeff & Geismar for Ciba.