these vintage ads will make you nostalgic for the 90s
We meet the brains behind @adarchives, the young collector unlocking the past through her vintage ad collection.
from the face, august 1992
If you're only as cool as your last #tbt, Halima Olalemi must be the coolest of them all. Under the handle @adarchives, the Nigerian-born, London-based graphic designer has been posting a storm of her endless archive of vintage ads on Instagram and Tumblr. Plucked from the likes of mags including i-D, Sleazenation, and The Face, these ripped up pages are rare finds, relics of a lost past. A self-confessed hoarder, what begun as Halima's personal project soon became a collaborative art series, as East London's Superimpose Studio began lending its curatorial hand. Now, having amassed a sizeable collection, Halima is currently looking into ways of expanding the project further — whether through the physical form of a book or opening an immersive online gallery. Here, we catch up with the London College of Communication graduate to talk mags, ads, and the importance of preserving the past.
What's the story behind Ad Archives?
I started by posting ads from my personal magazine collection that were just sitting in my hard drive. Initially I was just posting on social media for my friends to see, but I noticed how visually exciting and relevant I felt they still were, so I began collecting more from different magazines. When I began collaborating with Superimpose Studio based in East London, the intent of [the project] shifted; Toby and Ollie wanted it to show their interests as a studio through their collection of The Face.
Where did your interest in vintage ads come from?
It started when I was studying at London College of Communication, in a course where we looked at typologies and advertising. I loved the typography and layout of the old vintage enamel advertising signs, and I started collecting that type of advertising. Eventually, I moved onto fashion.
What is it about unearthing old ads that appeals to you?
It's like opening a time capsule. I geek out and go hunting for who may have made it, how it was received when it came out, if it's part of a series. I love finding the ones that have a narrative, as it brings the campaign together.
Where do you find most ads?
Initially from my personal archive of print magazines — Sleazenation, The Face, i-D — I'm a bit of a hoarder and managed to hold on to them all these years. The archiving aspect of it started when I began working with Superimpose Studio; I want to reflect their interests and inspirations as a studio through the ads I choose to showcase on Instagram. Ultimately, I want Ad Archives to be something that is nostalgic, but can also be used as a visual library.
What do you make of the state of advertising today?
I think it depends on the kind of consumer you are. The way I see advertising these days is that you can either buy into it, or you can see it for the piece of marketing that it is. As a designer, I like advertising that pushes boundaries creatively. In the past with this project, I didn't expect to find such strong visual concepts, but I have, and they've engaged me much more so than advertising does now.
Why do you think the rise of social media has created a need for nostalgia?
There has always been a need for nostalgia, be it through Bebo, Piczo, Myspace, etc. I think Instagram has made it easy for you to create a mood board of images that reflect a period of time, and work in the present; so I don't think social media has created to it, but rather given it a platform to grow.
If you weren't collecting vintage ads, what else would you be collecting?
I'm a bit of a hoarder, so I collect a lot. I have collections of train ticket, boxing posters, gig set lists and, my favorite, vintage editions of Exotique Magazine, an old fetish magazine.
I'm hoping to get funding from an arts council to buy a high res scanner — at the moment I'm scanning in Peckham Library. I'm hoping to look into copyright laws to see how far I could take this project. I'd love to turn it into a book or an online library of ads. I'm also speaking with some people who have created the ads, so it has a lot of potential to grow hopefully.
From The Face, August 1993
From Sleazenation, 1997
Text Tish Weinstock