“Metamorphic” is the terms given to button imagery that looks different depending on how you orient the object. Though the category itself sounds innocent enough, metamorphics are most commonly of the naughty variety. 1920’s metamorphic buttons combine stylish ladies gazing into the mirror or smelling flowers that are suddenly transformed into a very different image when rotated 180 degrees.
The Button Museum has a collection of 1920’s metamorphics that are always a hit among visitors with adventurous tastes, and when we saw illustrator Phil Guy‘s order come down the line a while back, we were pleasantly surprised to see his update on the classic metamorphic. Gone was the flapper-era bobbed hair in Phil’s illustration, but the result remained the same– rightside up the subject is nice, and upside down the image becomes naughty.
We thought the design update was pretty clever and reached out to Phil to feature his buttons here on the blog. In chatting with him about the inspiration for his design, I discovered that Phil didn’t even know about our fascination with historical metamorphics. When I sent along the link to our blog post about our mini-collection, he was shocked: “I just saw the button you were talking about on the blog and couldn’t believe my eyes! It’s the same art as my mirror!”
As it turns out, Phil had seen a similar design among vintage tattoo flash years before, then happened up a 1940’s hand mirror (the same one we have in the museum collection) at an antique store in Ohio. The mirror is what inspired his newly take on the old design.
Now that Phil’s metamorphic illustration has made it’s way onto a button, it only seemed fair that his updated version deserved a place among the originators of the naughty art. Phil’s button is now on display in the Button Museum alongside the vintage originals.