Design Observer picks their 50 best book covers of 2011

Design Observer picks their 50 best book covers of 2011

I think I may be a bit behind on this, but Design Observer has a great list of the 50 best book covers of 2011, many of which are some real jaw droppers. The list was put together by a panel of 35 folks, people like Michael Beirut, Irma Boom and Chip Kidd, who’ve sorted through a ton of nominations to choose the creme of the crop. The picks above are a sampling and feature some of my favorites of the bunch. Looking through the list it also made me realize that physical books aren’t going to disappear any time soon, especially when they’re this beautiful.

If interested, you can also check out a list of nominations for the best book cover of 2012 by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

October 5, 2012 / By

Illustrations of ‘The World’s First Ballon Flight’ by Rui Tenreiro

Image from 'Montgolfier' by Rui Tenreiro

Image from 'Montgolfier' by Rui Tenreiro

Image from 'Montgolfier' by Rui Tenreiro

Verdens første ballongferd (The World’s First Balloon Flight) is a newly released book for children written by Lena Lindahl and illustrated by Rui Tenreiro. The book is about of the world’s first aeronauts and it tells the true-life story of two brothers in 18th century France who set about building the first hot air balloon. The illustrations really looks terrific and wish I could speak Norweigan just so that I could read this.

It’s illustrator, Rui Tenreiro, is a Mozambican author, artist and editor. Dividing his time between Sweden and Mozambique he creates wonderful illustrations filled with detail and character. Some prints from the book will soon be available from Rui Tenreiro’s online shop while the book itself is currently available online here.

Philip Kennedy

September 24, 2012 / By

4 Good Books To Finish Out Your Summer

4 Good Books To Finish Out Your Summer

It’s the holiday season. Those dog days of summer where vacations are crammed in before fall hits. Most of us might be escaping to tropical wonderlands, new cities, or to forests and countries across the world. What are you going to read on your trip?

I’ll tell you this much: I’m going to do everything possible to keep you from reading Fifty Shades of Bore, A Girl Who Did Something Weird, or A Game of Bones: Songs of Chicks and Midgets. Never fear, friend. I suggest these four reads, all very different, to occupy some space in your duffle bag or e-reader.

Wool by Hugh Howey

We’ve touted Wool before. This sensation has became a phenomenon. One of the best selling series in the history of Amazon, rumor has it Wool has been picked up by Ridley Scott and will be published by Random House in 2013. I mean, how can we not get obsessed with Hugh Howey’s riveting prose and dynamic, flawed characters living in a silo? Destined to become a modern classic, it’s one of the sparks to the resurgence of sci-fi literature. The best use of 14,000 words in a long time. And when you get done with that one, the sequels are waiting for you.

Swoosh by J.B. Strasser

A great read on the beginning of Nike. What I enjoy the most about this book is the way it examines the shoe business pre-GOAT, back when Adidas and Puma ran the Olympics, back when shoe treads were made on waffle irons. Strasser’s style is easy going and flows well to show how an obsession with running created the iconic shoe company. It reveals the development of Nike since, well, before there was a Nike. Plus it’s about shoes. We all love shoes.

The Last of the Best by Jim Murray

He really was the best. The Pulitzer Prize winner, 14 time sports writer of the year, the treasure of the LA Times. This was a man who drank with Sinatra, golfed with Hogan, and smoked cigars with Steinbrenner. How could a man who was blind for most of these articles get the essence of sports so well? This collection is charming, engaging, hilarious, and tearful all at once. Getting benched in the World Series was “like a fourth-runner up in a Miss America contest.” Hole #15 of the Masters: “Who designed this hole – Dracula?” Los Angeles a “complicated hobo jungle,” Magic Johnson on the court becomes “an iceberg bearing down on the Titanic.” The subject of these final 60 columns ranges from Mike Tyson to a 17 year old Tiger Woods. Each is enjoyable and a lesson as to how to write to your audience with passion and what you believe in.

Mount Analogue by Rene Daumal

I read it once a year. The only book I let ex-girlfriends get away with stealing because it might change their life forever. Rene Daumal was a contemporary of the French Surrealist movement. This allegorical tale blends mountain climbing, adventure, metaphysics, the teachings of Gurdjieff, and spiritual enlightenment. That TV show Lost seems to be based on this, but Damon Lindelof can’t close a story half as well as this obscure, unfinished piece of surrealism. Daumal, translated by Roger Shattuck, crams more meaning per word anyone in years.

Alec Rojas

August 15, 2012 / By

9 Helpful Books For Budding Typographers

Helpful resources for budding typographers

Last week I was asked by a friend at work if I could recommend any good books on type. I don’t tend to read a lot about design so I took to Twitter to see what you the readers would suggest. I’ve compiled the suggestions into one larger list along with links in case you wanted to purchase a copy for yourself. I’ve personally only read Jan Tischold’s The New Typography which I would definitely suggest checking out. I hope you find this list helpful.

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield

Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Simon Garfield explores the rich history and subtle powers of type. He goes on to investigate a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seeming ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and exactly why the all-type cover of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was so effective. It also examines why the “T” in the Beatles logo is longer than the other letters and how Gotham helped Barack Obama into the White House.

Detail in Typography by Jost Hochuli

How is it that text can be set perfectly and yet look insufferably dull? How do you achieve perfect congruence between the type itself and its meaning? In Detail in Typography Jost Hochuli, master book designer and author of the seminal Designing Books, addresses the finer points of setting text. Hochuli begins with a consideration of how human beings read, moving on incrementally to considerations of letter, word, and line as well as word-space and line-space. Hochuli concludes by examining whole paragraphs and how they carry meaning. Produced in Switzerland to the highest standards, Detail in Typography embodies critical thinking and articulate design in its own physical form.

The New Typography by Jan Tschichold

First published in 1928 in Germany and out of print for many years, this text has been recognized as one of the most important statements of modern typographical design. This curious and fascinating work ranges through theories of social criticism, art history, architecture, and the emerging importance of photography as it sets forth very definite guidelines regarding the design of printed materials. The final sections are indeed practical guidelines, down to sheet sizes and appropriate mixes of type, for the day-to-day use of working designers and printers.

Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton

Thinking with Type is divided into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an easy-to-grasp essay that reviews historical, technological, and theoretical concepts, and is then followed by a set of practical exercises that bring the material covered to life. Sections conclude with examples of work by leading practitioners that demonstrate creative possibilities (along with some classic no-no’s to avoid).

A Type Primer by John Kane

Practical and hands-on in approach, this book/exercise manual speaks clearly to beginning graphic designers and others involved with type about the complex meeting of message, image, and history surrounding typography. Focused on intent and content, not affect or style, it makes informed distinctions between what is appropriate and what is merely show (especially in terms of the “junk” often generated unenlightened by computer users). Filled with examples, exercises, and background information–and designed itself to reflect good typographic design–it guides readers systematically to the point where they can not only understand but demonstrate basic principles of typography, and thereby strengthen their own typographic instincts.

Typographie: A Manual of Design by Emil Ruder

Emil Ruder’s Typographie is the timeless textbook from which generations of typographer and graphic designers have learned their fundamentals. Ruder, one of the great twentieth-century typographers was a pioneer who abandoned the conventional rules of his discipline and replaced them with new rules that satisfied the requirements of his new typography. Now in its sixth printing, this book has a hallowed place on the bookshelves of both students and accomplished designers.

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining the practical, theoretical, and historical, this edition is completely updated, with a thorough exploration of the newest innovations in intelligent font technology, and is a must-have for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods.

Basics Design: Typography by Paul Harris and Gavin Ambrose

Effective use of typography can produce a neutral effect or rouse the passions, symbolise artistic, political or philosophical movements, or express the personality of a person or organisation. Typefaces vary from clear and distinguishable letterforms that are suitable for extended blocks of text, to more dramatic and eye-catching typefaces that grab attention and are used in newspaper headlines and advertisements. Basics Design: Typography aims to impart a comprehensive understanding of typography, to explore its history, theory and practice. Aimed at both students and practising designers, it provides a thorough examination of how typography informs other aspects of creative design.

Bobby Solomon

August 3, 2012 / By

Koji Suzuki’s ‘Edge’, cover designed by Peter Mendelsund

Koji Suzuki's 'Edge', cover designed by Peter Mendelsund

Book designer Peter Mendelsund had one of his cover designs released recently and it’s quite the beauty. The design was created for a book by The Ring author Koji Suzuki called Edge, a story about how “the world is falling apart because things are out of joint at the quantum level.” I think Mendelsund’s cover does a remarkable job of not only making it feel like the world is slipping away, but that it’s slipping away in a mathematical/scientific sense. Really nice work on this one.

Bobby Solomon

July 18, 2012 / By

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Nate Utesch is not only talented, but busy. Based out of Indiana he’s an art director, an illustrator, he plays in bands and he’s a self-publisher. He recently released the newest edition of Ferocious Quarterly who’s theme this time around is based around the term, “Survival.”

I follow Nate on Twitter and I know he’s been working really hard on this project for a while now, so I thought it would be interesting to hear about the issue itself as well as the process he went through to have it made. What he learned could certainly be helpful to anyone out there who’s interested in self-publishing.

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Hey Nate. So the new issue of Ferocious Quarterly was just released, tell us what this issue is about.

Issue no.3 is called, “Be Prepared.” The theme for “Be Prepared” was simply one word: survival. And to make the artist/writer collaborations a little more difficult this time around, we had the artists illustrate their pieces first…then give the contributions to the writers. So all the written word in “Be Prepared” is based on the illustration rather than the other way around.

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

There’s a good group of people involved with this issue, what are some highlights we can look forward to?

Ah! That’s so hard. Like choosing a favorite child. I think the thing we were most blown away with in “Be Prepared” was how well the writers worked with the illustrators. Switching things up this time around was an exciting element. The writers blew our expectations out of the water. We’re so proud of the folks involved. After all, we’re asking incredible people to donate so many hours to this silly thing. When the contributions came back with as much heart and soul as these did it was truly incredible.

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Following you on Twitter it seems like you’ve definitely put a lot of hard work into this issue, how was the process for you? Any interesting challenges you can share?

To back up about a year ago from this time—we were trying to raise money on Kickstarter for our 3rd issue. And it failed! A huge kick in all the soft places. Pretty discouraging. A little embarrassing. We learned some important lessons, but we kept moving forward.

We concepted an online division of Ferocious called “Short Works” headed up by FQ editor, Jason Roemer. It will debut this year with a series of one-off short stories created just for our online readers. Jason put together a little teaser with writer, Joseph Mau, and illustrator, Ward Jenkis, last December. It’s AMAZING!! I can’t wait to see the rest of these stories unfold this year.

We also started more heavily pursuing the physical stocking of our books. Myself and FQ editor/co-officer of distribution, Scott Kirkpatrick, and I are each in bands that tour on and off throughout the year. We let a couple tours last year double as a scouting adventure to find shops who would take a risk and carry these ugly mugs. The result is now nine local bookstores and comic shops that carry FQ on their shelves.

Ok, 2012. This year has been an absolute madhouse. These contributors are hard-working men and women with careers and lives and a slew of extracurricular projects. If somebody needs to drop-out or needs an extension, we have to be ok with it. The least we can do is be accommodating considering what we’re asking of them. And then there’s our own schedules. I am almost inclined to say that I’ve regretfully let the production of issue 3 overlap with a half a dozen other side projects. But damn… we’re all a bunch of workaholic nightmares of a human being right? I live for those seasons of 95 hour work-weeks and consecutive all-nighters. Wherever your studio is, if you don’t find yourself sleeping there at least twice a week, you’re doing something wrong, right? I’m being a little facetious, but seriously, even though it’s been a blur it’s been fruitful. This is one of the most rewarding pieces of junk in my life!

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Why does Ferocious mean to you? Is there a particular reason you choose to publish your own magazine still, in a time of digital products?

This whole mess started out as an idea at the design boutique I call home (One Lucky Guitar, Inc.). Amidst the side projects we fill our evenings with, I thought we’d create a blog and spend the summer populating it with interviews and short stories. I finished the design flats, got about two-thirds of the way through the front-end programming…and then we tossed it. Something got in the way (except for the fact that this blog would’ve been a drop in the bucket).


I’d like to believe that even though we are truly in an age where print is diminishing and reading a book has nothing to do with turning a page…by jove, if you create something that is meant to be touched — folks wanna touch it! AdHouse Books, Sing Statistics, Nobrow, Koyama Press—those peeps are my heroes! I want to see Ferocious move beyond its quarterly issues and start publishing the “Short Works” stories on paper, put a comic in print, publish a work of poetry, publish a work from our friends and collaborators… I want to go broke and I want to be surrounded by the smell of offset ink and uncoated paper. I believe in it.

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

When do you think we’ll see the next issue? Any idea what it might be about?

My FQ partner in crime and co-manager of operations, Matt Beers (No, I’m not making these titles up as I go… sheesh. FQ is legit, man), came up with a theme I’m so stoked on. Issue No.4 is called “Deep.” In “Deep,” we decided to experiment with the way our contributors worked together. Half of our contributors illustrated only one half of an image. Their piece was themed after deep sea. Then the rest of our contributors were given those illustrations and were charged with illustrating the remaining half of the image in their own style. Except their theme was not deep sea. It was deep space. I say all this in past tense, but this is actually happening as we speak. All the deep sea illustrations were handed over to the deep space artists last week. Our goal is to have “Deep” in our hands this August.

Q & A with Nate Utesch: The making of Ferocious Quarterly No.3

Something to look forward to in this issue that we haven’t done before are a couple limited edition goodies. We are going to package them with each issue until they run out. The goodies include a folded “Scout Laws” poster illustrated by Dan Cassaro, Dan Christofferson and myself, and an embroidered merit badge.

Purchase yourself a copy of Ferocious Quarterly No.3 by clicking here.

Bobby Solomon

May 21, 2012 / By

R.I.P. Maurice Sendak

Where The Wild Things Are

So sad to hear that Maurice Sendak passed away. Seems like we keep losing creative individuals. Death is a part of life though, so we can only honor those who touched and inspired us in our time in this world. The New York Times has a nice piece on Maurice, his life, and his work, here’s an excerpt illustrating why he was so great.

In book after book, Mr. Sendak upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children’s literature, in which young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.

Mr. Sendak’s characters, by contrast, are headstrong, bossy, even obnoxious. (In “Pierre,” “I don’t care!” is the response of the small eponymous hero to absolutely everything.) His pictures are often unsettling. His plots are fraught with rupture: children are kidnapped, parents disappear, a dog lights out from her comfortable home.

Bobby Solomon

May 8, 2012 / By