Jan 13

Paul Rand

One of my favourite graphic designers, Paul Rand needs no introduction. A legend who practically invented the role of designer in public life. Thankfully, his work is thoroughly  documented.

On one side we have the big yellow Phaidon Paul Rand book. It’s got a series of pretty great essays by Steven Heller about the man, his life and work and a good selection of big colour plates, not just of the famous logos but broad coverage of his playful illustrations for advertising and children’s books. This book is widely available and cheaply for a used copy.


And If that’s all I had, I’d be happy. But much more interesting are the books he authored – particularly A Designer’s Art. As Heller says “here was the pioneer American Modernist, a legend in his time, explaining the essence of what makes good design.”

Well out of print, copies are a bit expensive even for my tastes, upwards of £70 used on Amazon. But it’s a great read so here’s a PDF. You’re welcome.


Jan 13

Elements of Typographic Style – Robert Bringhurst

Small, brick-like, dense. At first glance, a comprehensive technically impeccable run through typography history and modern best-practice. At first glance, a touch dry you might think. Wrong.

On starting reading though the text comes alive, enthusiasm and joy in the very best of typographic history streams through in smart, friendly writing – Bringhurst is a poet as his day job and it shows. If you are stuck in a world where Helvetica is considered the height of cool clean readability, prepare to have your world turned upside down.

If you only own one book on typography, this would be it.


Available in a new hardback edition, as well as plenty of second hand earlier editions.

Also see the fantastic Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web showing how best to use modern CSS to implement each detail.

Jan 13

The End of Print – David Carson

So precisely in time does this book position itself, it feels like it shouldn’t exist now. But in 1995 this was the cutting edge of graphic design, occurring at the frontline of pasteup and digital technique and rooted in cool California. Surfing! Rock and Roll! Skateboards!

Of the deconstructed type and bulldozed technology so broadly showcased in Typography Now, this collection of Carson’s work is finely tuned and on the whole much more successful. Two of the spreads here are burned into my mind, favourites for all time.

Less well known are Carson’s advertising layouts, Pepsi below and Nike in the book but I think these are at least as original and well resolved as the editorial work.

endofprintAvailable in a second edition for fair prices used from Amazon.


Jan 13

2000AD – Prog 508

While I’m reeling through the art and design books that have made an impression, I must back up a little more and include this one last nostalgia kick before we roll back into first gear.

Why include this seemingly randomly numbered copy of the galaxy’s greatest comic? Well, it’s the one that began a long unbroken subscription, lasting at least until art college I think. It was funny, it was cartoon violent, the art was fantastic, it was 26 pence (earth money). I’d probably had the odd earlier issue, but this was a full on newsagent commitment, to be picked up by bike on a Sunday morning rain or shine. Shortly after this issue the paper and size changed, and a bit later still the logo got spruced up, but this pulpy squarish mostly black and white comic still seems pretty good to me.

2000AD Prog 508


The galaxy’s greatest comic is now available on the iTunes store for iPad/iPhone.

Jan 13

Return of the Jedi – Making of souvenir

Rolling back to 1983 an excited boy went to see the third in a fantastical series of films, and acquired this slim book on the way. I’d never seen anything like it – a neat story synopsis followed by detailed pre-production notes, tales from the shoot, post-production special effects taken apart and described. Concept art! Fantasy vehicle blueprints! Matte painting explained! Giant models shown in progress! How exciting!

“Art of…” movie books are common now, and with the rise of CGI images less about physical modelling and logistics, but this slim volume was just the ticket for a 10 year old making unofficial Lego Star Wars and getting a lot out of drawing and early computers. Crazy times.

jediThey must have sold millions, it’s relatively cheap and available on Amazon


Jan 13

Typography Now – Why Not Associates

Imagine a young impressionable graphic designer-in-training with the shiny new tools of the revolution being taught side-by-side with the old metal craft ways. This book proved irresistible. But nothing ages quite so badly as funky distressed typography, and, to be fair, much of the content in this book was on the borderline of good taste at the time. And so, once a prized document of the blazing trail feels like a slightly embarrassing relic of a more innocent, dumber age now. Oh well.

Typography NowIt’s available quite cheaply used on Amazon.


Jan 13

Some great books

I’m going to post a series of short posts during January about some of the art & design books that at one time or other I’ve found inspiring, as a designer. A few are recent, most are older, with some defining books from childhood. Not all these books stand up now as great design source material, but a few do. These are my great books, yours may vary.


Dec 12

Syd Mead – Sentury

Less good this one with pretty lightweight text but great products, interiors and giant tractors. Pretty heavy on the giant tractors actually, with a large number of casino and resort concepts at the other end of the whimsy spectrum. Videogame work is included too, but feels less well resolved than the movie and vehicle designs.

Also included here, the ugliest sofa known to mankind.

SenturyUsed copies fetch silly prices on Amazon for some reason.


Dec 12

Syd Mead – Oblagon

This is a nice mid-80s collection of the mixed work Mead was doing at the time. Famous hard sci-fi movie work from 2010 and Blade Runner sits beside muscular automobile concepts and renders. There’s even a Honda Prelude there, driving through Jupiters moons.

OblagonUsed copies turn up for silly prices on Amazon.


Dec 12

Max Headroom — TV movie storybook

Going back even further here. It’s 1985, Max Headroom is all over the media. The TV movie has been shown only once, and even then had a bit of a gremlin. I did see it though, it was fantastic. I spent years waiting to see it again, but this kept the story alive.

When we had a prelaunch period for TIOTI, we ran an online video stream of the whole movie on the preview page. Seemed appropriate for a movie seemingly stuck in rights limbo.

Max HeadroomUsed copies are available cheaply on Amazon.