For years, I've repurposed old, metal lunchboxes. A Rambo lunchbox became a lunchbox dedicated to Great Women of Literature. Another honored Great Writers of the South. More recently, I've dedicated a lunchbox to The Donner Party. For a long time, though, I've had it in my head to create the ultimate Superhero Lunchbox...not a lunchbox featuring Batman or Wonder Woman, but a box honoring my real-life heroes.

I posed this challenge to a wide circle of friends: get your hands on a metal lunchbox, and put some thought into who or what your heroes are, and why. And then get to work making the Superhero Lunchbox of your dreams.

This online exhibit is the result of that challenge. I hope visitors to this site will find it fun and interesting, and maybe even inspiring. Lunchboxes are such useful things, and so many of us have fond memories of toting tuna sandwiches to school in our Partridge Family or Six Million Dollar Man lunchboxes. There seems to me to be no reason for us to outgrow this tradition of toting around our meals in metal boxes that say something about who we are, what we like, and what our values are. I know I've never outgrown it.

Start here, because it's what started it all for me, and work your way up. Enjoy. Leave some feedback. Make a lunchbox.

For a more detailed view, click on the individual images.

If you're moved to make a lunchbox of your own, and have it included in this exhibit, submissions are welcome. Get your hands on a metal lunchbox (no plastic, please) - you can buy a blank one from or repurpose an old one. Go to town. Choose your superhero, and and run with it. Photograph your finished lunchbox, write a few words about your subject, and send the photos and text to me at, with the words "Superhero Lunchbox" in the subject box.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Michelle Chevallier

When I first started this artwork, I was really mulling over who to choose. I don't really have personal heroes. I had purchased a multipack of vintage postcards to use for another project, and I opened it to find a bonus of not only postcards, but a pristine set of luggage labels. I had the realization that a lunchbox is like a mini suitcase, and the idea was born.

The problem was narrowing down the list of who to represent. There are many designers that contributed to the golden era of luggage labels, but I didn't have those of anyone famous. Eventually I decided that I would call this the Franz Lenhart/Jan Lavies Tribute Lunchbox, as both had a major influence on this "golden era."

Franz Lenhart had just enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts when World War I began. In 1922, Lenhart moved to Florence to complete his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti and began working as an apprentice poster designer at a local printing shop. Once Lenhart earned his diploma he moved to Merano, where he began teaching and working as an artist. A gifted portrait artist, Lenhart was a master in capturing the light and atmosphere of the Italian Alps and Dolomities.

Jan Lavies was a Dutch commercial designer who was born in Holland and spent most of his career working in the Dutch East Indies for the publicity agency Aneta. During the 1930's he designed posters, advertising, luggage labels and folders for the Netherlands-Indies Hotel Association and K.P.M. the Royal Parcel Shipping Company. Lavies received many awards and praise for his modern Art Deco designs, using strong color combinations and clean compositions. His labels capture the brilliant color and natural beauty of the aforementioned exotic lands.

My components on the front and back and interior are the luggage labels, some rubber travel related stamps, and snippets and pictures from a travel-related scrapbook sheet. I was concerned about the reaction of the old labels to any sort of sealant, so I left the front unsealed. The back required contact paper to get the rubber stamps to stay put. I'm not really happy about how the back turned out with the contact paper, but this is my first lunchbox and it turned out better than I expected.
The side panels are composed of reproduction lithograph Victorian perfume labels from Victor Vassier in Paris. I chose them because they are related to the travel theme in that they were affixed to shipping crates, instead of luggage.

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