Friday, October 23, 2009

The Killing Circle

by Andrew Pyper // Picador

Cover photograph by Jon Shireman


Patrick Rush is a single father, unhappy with his career, devoted to his young son but haunted by the loss of his wife, when he joins a local writing group. In the candlelit studio where the circle meets, he finds one writer's work far more powerful than the others—a young woman named Angela, who writes about a girl stalked by a killer named the Sandman. But Angela's stories may be more autobiography than tall tale: soon the members of the group are being hunted by a shadowy figure resembling the Sandman, and the line between fiction and real life beings to dissolve. When his own son is taken, Patrick is forced to chase down the Sandman for himself and to discover the ending to his own terrifying story.

A sheet of writing paper with a delicate semi-circle paper-cut wound came to mind as I was talking with the editor. With a bit of blood pooling up behind it and beginning to run.

I emailed a quick, concept sketch to Jon Shireman to photograph:

And voila! With hole-punch wounds on the spine:

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Night of the Italians: Presented by The Type Directors Club

Last night, I attended THE NIGHT OF THE ITALIANS. A celebration of Italian design presented by the Type Directors Club in the beautiful new SVA Theatre.

The panel discussion was moderated by Paola Antonelli and brought together a star-studded panel that featured Louise Fili, of Louise Fili Ltd., Francesco Cavalli of LeftLoft, 
Massimo Vignelli of Vignelli Associates
 and Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design.

This was one of the best talk I’ve been to. Paola was an entertaining moderator who was funny, personal, and kept things moving along.


The word Fili is Italian for “Threads”, Cavalli means “Horses”, and Mucca means “Cow”.

Francesco and Matteo are both from Milan, and Massimo is from Venice.
Only Louise was born in America. New Jersey to be exact. Unlike the rest who wanted to come to America to pursue their design dreams, Louise was desperate to live in Italy. Ever since the time she first visited with her family at the age of 16. Because of her yearning for the culture roots of her parents, she embraced all things Italian and was influenced by its aesthetics. Her design reflects the most typically “Italian” of the four there.

But they all admitted that although Italy is a great place to be, they could not work there.

Most left Italy for greater opportunity. Masimo left because the ceiling was too low there. He found that NYC has no ceiling when it came to realizing your creativity.
Matteo presented some typical advertisement work being done in Italy and said that THIS is the reason why you don’t want to work in Italy as a Designer. Making the transition from Italy to NYC wasn't hard to make because Milan is a very urban city and is as chaotic as NYC. But living in a city where stores and life doesn't close down for the weekend was very stimulating.

The post-Q&A section generated some very good responses from the panel.

One questioner, noticing that most of the works shown were print based, asked their thoughts on designing for the Internet. Massimo responded that BOOKS ARE DEAD! Yikes! But sadly not shocking. The printed books could only reach the amount of people that it can publish. But the Internet can reach millions around the world. Matteo added that books have had a good run at reaching people for over 500 years but in essence, has hit the ceiling. And the Internet does not have a ceiling in getting your message out. I think I need to look for another line of work.

Another question, “What is more important, the image or the copy?” was met with amused silence until Matteo answered, “The kerning.” This was a reference to Matteo's earlier remarks about his subtle redesign of the Victoria's Secret Logo, jokingly commenting, "We got paid a lot of money to do kerning."

A 4th year design student was concerned that his senior portfolio did not reflect an obvious “style” and would that be a problem for Art Directors hiring. Massimo responded that, “It’s not important to develop your own style but your approach.” To which Francesco added with no disrespect, “You are too young to develop a style.” He described our job as problem solvers and that your voice will come out on its own. Or else, you are just imitating someone else's look.

After the talk, there was Sicilian gelato served from L’Arte del Gelato for which Louise designed the logo. The line was very long and there was only one person scooping s-l-o-w-l-y. But the Stracciatella and pumpkin flavors were really delicious and worth the wait. It was great catching up with friends and the panel members were all accessible and having a great time. I love Louise. My Art Director and Mentor who taught me to be the Art Director and Designer I am today. When I’m around her, there’s a part of me that still trembles in awe. Just like how I felt when I was starting out as her design assistant at Pantheon Books. I was able to snag the event poster designed by Charles Nix. It was a fun night. The event ended with Matteo calling out to me as I was leaving. I turned and saw him flipping me the bird. Now That's Amore. Arriverderci.

Here are videos I was able to take of Louise and Matteo's presentations discussing their work and what it means to be an Italian designer:

Louise Fili-The Night of the Italians: presented by The TDC from Henry Yee on Vimeo. Matteo Bologna-The Night of the Italians: presented by The TDC from Henry Yee on Vimeo. (The Panel Left to Right: Louise, Francesco, Paola, Massimo and Matteo) Louise's grandfather with her young father on the far right. Me and Louise. The Great Massimo.

RIP Massimo Vignelli, 1931 - May 27, 2014 by Michael Beirut / Design Observer

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Time: BIG IDEAS // small books

by Eva Hoffman
BIG IDEAS // small books / A Picador Paperback Original

• An AIGA's 50 Books // 50 Covers Best Cover 2009 Selection

Novelist, cultural commentator, memoirist, and historian Eva Hoffman examines our ever-changing perception of time in this inspired addition to the BIG IDEAS/small books series
Time has always been the great given, the element that establishes the governing facts of human fate that cannot be circumvented, deconstructed, or wished away. But these days we are tampering with time in ways that affect how we live, the textures of our experience, and our very sense of what it is to be human. What is the nature of time in our time? Why is it that even as we live longer than ever before, we feel that we have ever less of this basic good? What effects do the hyper fast technologies—computers, video games, and instant communications—have on our inner lives and even our bodies? And as we examine biology and mind on evermore microscopic levels, what are we learning about the process and parameters of human time? Hoffman regards our relationship to time—from jet lag to aging, sleep to cryogenic freezing—in this broad, eye-opening meditation on life’s essential medium and its contemporary challenges.

It’s about Time, but what aspect of time? When you have plenty of it, it never comes to mind. You only think about it when you're running out of it. That’s what I needed to think about. With deadlines approaching and running out of time, I think and let go. Sometimes after the end of a long workday, with time standing still, I stare at my wall and my mind drifts. The afternoon’s setting sun begins to cast shadows of my windowpane across my office wall.
It made me think of the long shadows of late August. That melancholy moment when you realize that summer is almost over. Where the sunlight becomes golden, hazy and lazy. That's when time makes itself known. When it tells me that moments are drifting away. Goodbye summer. That’s what time is to me. Fleeting moments.
I’ve already established this BIG IDEAS series with a minimal color palette and minimal imagery. Using a golden color would be out of place. But I was also designing another subject in the BIG IDEAS/small books series about the British SIXTIES where I needed to incorporate the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. I had to break my rules. I placed my type along the shadow's edge. The transition point that separates day from night. Interesting thing about this image is that it’s not a photograph. I didn't want to use a stock image. It seemed simple enough to photograph live. But I was designing this in the wrong time of the year, winter. So I mocked up my concept by creating it in Photoshop with Gaussian blurs and gradient masks. I did have photographer Jon Shireman shoot this as he has for all of the other in this series. But I decided to stay with my mock up because it just seemed to capture the mood I wanted. Sorry Jon. But wait till you see what we came up for the next in the series, CHOICE. I can't wait to show you.

It's a beautiful autumn here in NYC and summer's a distant memory. Replaced with apple picking, butternut squash, crisp blue skies, rustling leaves, cocktail parties, great weather for leather and dressing in layers. Hello autumn! Did you have a nice summer?