15 matchbooks with incredible artworks by leading illustrators

These matchbook designs are by Bernstein & Andriulli artists Jeremyville, Inkymole, mcbess, Stanley Chow and more.

These artworks are on fire, or could be if you strike their contents.

When rep agency Bernstein & Andriulli (B&A) wanted to create a book that showcased the work of its designers and illustrators, rather than sticking to traditional methods the company put together The Matchbook Project. 

Reviving the promotional function of the matchbook from the 1920s-50s, B&A asked its talented artists to design a miniature canvas each to showcase their work, creating a collection of contemporary matchbooks.

Image: Design by Andrew Bannecker

Notable artists include Stan Chow, David Doran, Jeremyville, Sawdust, Sarah Coleman, McBess, Sir Peter Blake and Vault49 – but these are just a few of the impressive list of names that B&A represents. 

The matchbook is essentially a small paperboard folder containing matches, which provides a coarse striking surface. In contrast to the matchbox, the assortment of matches in a matchbook are attached, and must be torn away from each other before use. 

Image: Design by Jeremyville

 But the beauty of the object lies in its exterior – usually imprinted with a logo and artistic design serving as an advertising medium. Matchbooks became a popular, affordable promotional item or souvenir before dying out with the availability of disposable lighters. Recently matchbooks have regained popularity by acting as a retro advertising item. 

Beyond the mere form and function of the matchbook, lies a beautiful metaphor of fire and igniting imagination and creativity – and the relationship between fire and art throughout history.

Image: Design by Sawdust

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Speaking to Computer Arts Magazine, executive agent at B&A Louisa St. Pierre explains.

"Masterpieces have been created by candlelight; ideas have been shared over a cigarette; phone numbers and information exchanged by scrawling on these portable, multi-purpose notebooks," she says.

This idea runs throughout the book. As described in the intro, B&A is engaged in its "own creative recognition, spreading art like a flame".

Image: Design by David Doran

The matchbooks have been printed, but the artists’ designs have been curated into a book in the shape of a giant matchbook designed by Craig Ward.

Around 2,000 copies have been sent to B&A’s “VIP clients”, but the agency plans to launch a simplified version for everyone else. Although the date for this hasn’t been pinned down, keep checking their social media channels if you wish to get your hands on one.

Image: Design by Sarah Coleman

Louisa says the project is portable, has encouraged collaboration and explored different media, "making it delightfully memorable".

Check out the selection of designs in The Matchbook by B&As artists and designers (We really enjoyed the fire puns).

Image: Design by Serge Seidlitz

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Image: Design by Vault49

Image: Design by The Selby

Image: Design by Stanley Chow

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Image: Design by Sir Peter Blake

Image: Design by Mcbess

Image: Design by Radio

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Image: Design by Ryan McAmiss

Image: Design by Andrew Bannecker

Image: Design by Shotopop

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Image: Design by ilovedust

Image: Design by Craig Ward

Image: Design by Xin Jhang

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Image: Design by Jeff Soto