What is CSA Images

The CSA Images collection is considered one of the world's leading modern design resources for the creation and preservation of print and pop culture. CSA Images capture the authenticity and detail of hand-drawn illustration, and digitally preserve the legacy and artifacts of ink printed on paper. CSA Images contain tens of thousands of illustrations and design elements, including icons, ornaments, patterns, borders, and illustrated words, all searchable by keyword.


The CSA Images collection is the result of a life-long passion for advertising art by designer Charles Spencer Anderson, who discovered growing up in a small rural town in the center of Iowa, that the best escape from the monotony of small town life was an overactive imagination fed by a steady diet of 1960's and 70's comic books, monster magazines, and a love of drawing. In the early 1970's while still in high school, Charles met a retired commercial artist named Clyde Lewis, who had spent his entire career drawing advertising art for everything from matchbooks to menus. All his illustrations, including the lettering, were created freehand with brush and ink. Clyde Lewis' talent and friendship inspired Charles to pursue an education in graphic design. When Clyde Lewis passed away, he left Charles his original artwork, which became the basis of the CSA Images collection. Later, when Charles attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), all of these low influences stood in direct opposition to the college's Swiss modernist design approach, which eventually instilled in Charles an understanding and appreciation of European modern design--even as it clashed with his passion for low-brow pop culture.

After graduation, Charles was hired by his MCAD instructor and mentor Peter Seitz to work at his newly formed design firm. Peter attended the New Bauhaus in Ulm, Germany, and studied under design legends Otl Aicher and Max Bill. Peter continued his studies at Yale University and studied under Paul Rand, Herbert Matter, and Bradbury Thompson. After working for architect I.M. Pei, Peter was recruited to Minneapolis as the Design Director of the Walker Art Center. Charles spent his first formative years working for Seitz. Then in 1985, Charles became the first designer recruited to join the newly established Duffy Design Group, an affiliate of Fallon McElligott & Rice advertising, and later became a partner. In 1989 with a single client, the French Paper Company, he formed Charles S. Anderson Design, which specializes in identity development, packaging, and product design. Unlike other design firms, however, in addition to their highly recognized client work, CSA Design is unique in creating what has become one of the most extensive and well-respected archives of licensable artwork in existence. Painstakingly built over many decades.

Over the years, CSA has created countless original photographs, illustrations, and design elements in addition to seeking out and acquiring entire collections of original art from copyright owners. All told, CSA has spent hundreds of thousands of hours creating, commissioning, curating, and purchasing images in addition to researching historic materials for rights clearance and protecting and policing its original art and derivative works.

CSA Images includes hand drawn original illustrations and photographs created by over one hundred talented designers, artists, and photographers who have worked with CSA Design over the decades. The varied collections of CSA Images have been nearly 40 years in the making, starting with Clyde Lewis's original advertising art spanning his career from the 1930's-1970's, to the staggering amount of time spent searching through every conceivable type of historic printed material to find the small percentage of images out of millions that are aesthetically interesting enough to be considered for inclusion in the collection. These images are then simplified and made more graphic for impact, and in some cases redrawn or combined with other elements to change the context and convey new ideas. CSA Images also contains collections of original artwork work that have been commissioned and purchased over the years.

The constantly expanding CSA Images collection is continually inspired by the entire history of graphic design, and illustration from their origins in printing and commercial art through the digital age. It also continues to grow into different mediums and markets. In 2006, CSA Design, in collaboration with their long-time client the French Paper Company, launched a series of products under the Pop Ink brand. Pop Ink products are backed by the extensive CSA Images library and printed on French Paper.

CSA Images History

The Charles S. Anderson (CSA) Design Company headquarters on First Street in Minneapolis was built in 1854. When CSA renovated the building, they worked with the Historic Preservation Commission to preserve the building's facade. The interior is completely modern.

The CSA building is a metaphor for much of CSA's work, which is modern, yet takes its inspiration from the history of design, illustration and typography.

A cross section of CSA Images shows the diverse illustration styles. CSA has evolved far beyond just the black and white line art that started the collection decades ago. It remains the most unique and highly esteemed modern design resource in existence. Unlike many vast, crowd-sourced collections containing millions of good, bad, and mediocre images that leave viewers overwhelmed and under inspired, CSA Images is the most tightly curated library of art available.

A 1980s designer passed out working on the first CSA Archive collection by hand with black & white ink (pre-computer). The first CSA Archive book of line art illustration contained 7,777 images and took seven years to complete.

CSA Archive The images shown here represent a small selection from tens of thousands of black and white CSA Archive images (vernacular line art). CSA's black and white Archive images are iconic, simple, powerful, and timeless. In contrast to a full-color, computer-rendered world, hand-drawn black and white images cut through the cyber slick digital clutter and powerfully express the true soul of illustration.

CSA Images is constantly expanding with tens of thousands of images online at CSAImages.com searchable by keyword.

Initially conceived to be used internally for their own design projects, CSA Images has since expanded and is now used by designers throughout the world.

CSA Images are included in museum collections throughout the world.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York
The Nouveau Salon des Cent-Centre Pompidou, Paris
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
The Museum Für Gestaltung, Zürich
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai
The Museum of Modern Art, Hiroshima

CSA Images is one of the most highly awarded stock illustration collections and was named, along with Apple, Adobe, and French Paper, as one of the top brands to an audience of designers, an influential group of early adopters and disseminators.

CSA Images is divided into many unique stylistic categories and is searchable by a comprehensive system of keywords painstakingly and consistently created over many decades.

Unlike most typical stock image collections all filled with similar cliché images, the continually expanding, ever evolving CSA Images collection is the creative spark that fires the imagination of both consumers and creative leaders constantly looking for something fresh, unique, and new.

In today's era of information overload resulting in a glut of images online, a tightly curated collection with a specific point of view is a rare, essential resource.