All posts filed under: Book review

Oh sh*t, what now?

Notebook: 28 March 2018 | BOOK REVIEW Oh Sh*t, What Now? Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers by Craig Oldham. Published by Laurence King April 2018 What a great book. It’s full of advice for young designers just setting out into the world of graphic design with words of wisdom on topics such as, education, internships, portfolios, landing your first job, personal development, risk-taking and plenty more. It’s written by Craig Oldham who describes himself variously as a designer, teacher, writer, publisher, campaigner and Yorkshireman. He has an energy and passion for life that comes across in his writing – and if he can inspire a grumpy designer like myself, who is old enough to be his dad, then he’ll certainly inspire younger people. Yes, I like Craig Oldham. He seems like a good bloke and he drinks lots of tea. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see Craig talk or you’ve watched a clip of him on YouTube, you’ll know that he is very engaging and has a natural talent for telling a story and …

A2Z+ book review

Above: Front and back covers of a school kit, USSR 1968 (Pollocks Toy Museum). From A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein Notebook 5 March 2018 | BOOK REVIEW: A2Z+ by Julian Rothenstein. Published by Laurence King, April 2018 Although we spend much of our day tapping away on a phone or keyboard the majority of us still pick up a pen and make marks on a piece of paper. It’s good to see that schoolchildren continue to scribble and doodle in the margins of their exercise books and make use of decorative titling and other flourishes on the covers of their notebooks and school diaries. When I was a teenager there was a fad for writing titles with extravagant bubble writing with one outline letter overlapping the next – almost like a graffiti tag. My take on this was to use drop-shadows, 3-D blocking or primitive serifs (see pics at end) based on typefaces such as Cooper Black or the slabs of Clarendon or Playbill. Reference material for my decorative titling would have been old press adverts, packaging or the …

‘The Visual History of Type’ reviewed

Notebook: 2 October 2017 | BOOK REVIEW | TYPOGRAPHY The Visual History of Type by Paul McNeil. Published by Laurence King 2017 Wow! What a fantastic book this is. The legendary Dutch designer and typographer Wim Crouwel has described it as, ‘amazing, overwhelming, stunning’ and ‘wonderful’ and he’s not wrong. It is an essential record of every major typeface created since the development of printing with moveable type in the 1450s and it is well designed, easy to navigate and beautiful to look at. I couldn’t put it down. As a graphic design student in the late 1970s, my knowledge and understanding of type was built on what I gleaned from the Letraset catalogue, fusty old art college library books (apart from Sutton and Bertram’s rather good Atlas of Typeforms first published in 1968) and what I saw around me in print. These days, students can raid the internet for information but they will still welcome Paul McNeil’s book, which I’m sure will become the definitive reference guide for students, professionals and anyone else with an interest …

Stickyscapes

Notebook: 21 January 2016 | ILLUSTRATION | BOOK REVIEW The publisher Laurence King produce some very nice books on art and design and some great children’s publications including their Stickyscapes series – more on those in a moment. First, does anybody remember Waddingtons’ Panoramas? They were popular with children in the late 60s/early 70s, cost 6/11 in old money (about 35p) and consisted of a long sheet of card that was printed on one side with a beautifully drawn panorama that might have been a Wild West landscape or an underwater scene or some other environment. They came with sheets of Letraset pictures – cowboys, fish or whatever – that the user would then rub down on to the panoramic background in their chosen place, to slowly build up their completed picture. They were designed by a company called Patrick Tilley Associates. I loved Panoramas and I can remember spending my pocket money on the five that were in the original series and that are shown below. You can read more about them here. (In the early 60s Patrick Tilley had also …

Hearty illustration

Notebook: 18 November 2015 | ILLUSTRATION | BOOK REVIEW One of the best illustration agencies is Heart. They were formed over 10 years ago out of a studio collective of artists and illustrators and they are managed and run by practicing artists. They have some fantastic illustrators on their books and they are one of the first agencies that I like to turn to when I’m commissioning bespoke illustration. Two of their artists – Adam Simpson and Aude Van Ryn have recently produced charming illustrations for the This is… series of art books by the publisher Laurence King. Simpson worked on This is Kandinsky (sample spread shown below) and Van Ryn on This is Monet (shown above) and their illustrations help bring these artists’s lives and paintings to life in an innovative and very engaging manner. They are beautiful books with chunky hard back covers and the artwork is printed on a tasteful and sweet smelling, matt stock. (They’d make great Christmas presents for any one interested in art and you can see the full range in the Laurence King …