Design and Commercial Art

When Carmichael arrived in Toronto in 1911, he was hired as an office boy by Grip Ltd. The head designer was one of the most prominent men in his field at the time, J.E.H. MacDonald.

Carmichael joined the Sampson-Matthews firm in 1922, probably as head designer under the art directorship of J.E. Sampson. Among his projects at Sampson-Matthews, Carmichael worked on the illustration and design of a number of promotional brochures as well as advertisements for newspapers and magazines. In step with the fashions of the times, his work increasingly reflected the flat simplified design popular in the 1920’s. This style can be seen in the … printed brochure for the Canadian National’s Lake of Bays resort.

In the 1920’s Carmichael also created illustrations for a variety of stories, mostly those reproduced in magazines. An example of his illustrational style, though in a coloured and more elaborate format, can be found on the cover of a 1928 Maclean’s magazine.

For Carmichael, design was not simply meaningless ornamentation. The artist wrote:

These different things – repose, dignity, movement, energy, grace, rhythm – are part of our very life and make-up. They represent the pattern of our material life and they are the material/structure on which we build designs.