Wednesday, September 29, 2010


This book probably took more engineering to make than the iPad. It was produced by my former student, Jee Lee as a challenge for her xType project in my class last winter quarter. She made model after model to engineer the binding structure that would safely contain her pop-up alphabet, lit by an LED light and battery contained in the spine. She conceived the electrical parts by deconstructing piece parts she found at the hardware store. The final outcome was remarkable–especially considering she had never designed anything like it before. Jee is an amazing talent, and it was an honor to have her as my student. Her pop-up book is now featured in the Movable Book Society's international juried exhibit which opens on Friday, and runs through October 30th at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland OR. Her book was chosen from over 200 entrees from a group of international book artists–many who have been producing pop-up and paper engineered books their entire careers. You can see the online catalog of the exhibit here. Meanwhile, Jee is now moving to the Bay Area to begin her first design position and we will all miss her greatly. You go girl!

The Movable Book of Letterforms

Kevin Steele of Bloomington, IN just received the Best of Show award at the Movable Book Society's exhibit at the 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland OR this week. Deservedly so! See for yourself here. Printed inkjet on Mohawk paper.

eBooks eVolve

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

In the future, reading a book may not be such a linear experience and there is no doubt, there is an evolution going on. Or maybe it is a revolution as the debate between books and eBooks continues. The verb to read is taking on a new context as well. The dictionary now defines reading as comprehending the meaning of printed material and interpreting the characters and symbols of which it is composed. It is what you are doing now. Doh! However it can also be a conversation or debate–as IDEO explores their notions of books with us here–and it can be a series of hyperlinks that whisk us away on an entirely new adventure. It should be called readertainment as it makes reading fun, much like a video game or movie. And it certainly invites non-readers to the party too. But these frequent hyperlinks can also be really annoying and inhibit our imagination as it disrupts the reading process. As a reader, what are your thoughts? The last word has not been said on this topic, nor will it ever be. I personally believe there is room for both linear and non-linear reading–analog books and the digital–and the common goal is to make it a pleasant and rewarding experience. Just practice good typographic hygiene and mind your Ps & Qs.

You can also enter into the conversation over on IDEOs Facebook page.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Heart iPad?

Well, Jason Schwartzman's New Yorker ad almost has me, but I'm still a paper grrrl at heart! Spoiler alert...what he doesn't tell you is you need to pay $4.99 per download, regardless if you are already a subscriber. Oh Conde Naste. I unfriend you!

If you have trouble viewing, don't blame me. Try the help desk or click here maybe.

My Summer Vacation

Two words easily make me light up...Road Trip. When school was out in June, I was ready to play. My husband and I packed the car grabbed our photo gear and went looking for sun and fun in Northern California in late June. Our destination was a small cottage in Berkeley that belonged to our friend Matt. It was just large enough for one piece of luggage if you put it under the bed and one person to stand up at a time. We were happy to be there however after several days in the car and went off to explore in the city. I have to be honest, the primary reason I wanted to visit SF at that time, was to see Maira Kalman, artist, author, illustrator, designer and person-whom-I-would-most-like-to-meet, at her exhibition opening on the first of July at the SF Contemporary Jewish Museum. And she was delightful and so approachable and to see her original work was the highlight of my Summer.

To early attendees, Maira hosted a Milton, her reference for a conceptual space for whimsy and exchange as she explains. In a nutshell, it was her personal store of miscellaneous stuff she sold out of an old suitcase. Balls of string, an old book, cans of sweet peas, envelopes of ephemera–all stuff she sold with proceeds donated to the SF Food Bank. I bought the ephemera and our host, Matt bought me a can of Ralph's Peas, which she signed (and which we later ate with dinner and is now my favorite pencil cup). Maira also beautifully inscribed our several books before we all attended the exhibit. Upon first meeting her, I expressed my disappointment about leaving behind the bag of fresh moss from Mt. Rainier which I intended to give her, Maira was absolutely charming and gave me her personal address to mail it later. I have since accumulated more little bags of moss to send her from the Olympic Rainforest, central Oregon, North Andover, MA and my roof. Did I mention that she also collects moss?

If you haven't had an opportunity to discover Maira's work, begin here. And here. And here. Her exhibit at the CJM ends October 26th and will then move to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on November 16th to February 13th. Following this it will be at the Jewish Museum in New York next Spring. For more Maira, you can watch her TED Talk here.

What else I saw on my Summer Vacation

The Mission in San Francisco is so colorful. Murals, people and signage...the place just vibrates day and night. I love the large handpainted Tuscan letters of an old sign here. You could see the gentrification taking place in the Mission as city sign workers were modernizing old signs with the new. Sigh...Then stopping in at 826 Valencia, AKA McSweeney's Pirate Supply and literary arts promoter, we could see young children busily at work writing and creating books in the backroom. Just how many ways can you spell Aaaarrghhh?

The other photos below are from Adobe Bookshop, just off Valencia on 16th. This ain't no stinkin' Borders bookstore! Adobe has to be San Francisco's most beloved used and eclectic bookstore, where their more than 20,000 books were once arranged entirely by color and handwritten names of various artists and writers are scribbled on the walls. People bang out manuscripts on old typewriters in the back and cats roam around freely amidst the piles of used books. Sadly, like many used independent bookstores, it is struggling with survival and may have to close it's doors soon. The handmade "Everything Must Go" sign on the front window is a remnant from an art exhibit last May, and the owner leaves it there to encourage people to come inside. When my husband, Paul and I walked in last Summer, we instantly felt this was a place where time stood still and the ghosts of writers could mingle with the wayward souls who napped beneath the skylights on comfy old couches and chairs–one with a pigeon resting on his stomach. The clerk at the counter said it was nap time, so we quietly made our purchase, departed the wayback machine and ambled on.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whistle While You Print

It was blind luck I guess that we found ourselves in San Francisco around the launch of the Levis Ready to Work printmaking pop-up workshop in the Mission District on Valencia. I stumbled across a newspaper blurb about it a day earlier which piqued my curiosity. I was unable to attend the launch however as it coincided with the opening of Maira Kalman's exhibit at SF's Jewish Contemporary Museum. The next day I dropped in and had an opportunity to speak with the curator and learn more about the ambitious project. Wieden+Kennedy of Portland, OR is responsible for this We Are All Workers campaign which promises to be a seed for change as it celebrates workers of all stripes. They encourage anyone to come in off the street and roll up their sleeves and design something to print. Inside there were people working at a counter of nice new iMacs and printers–all for public use; an entire room dedicated to silkscreening posters, t-shirts or even tortillas if you were so inclined; and two large Vandercook proof presses and shelves of ink waiting to be used. This may be a grand marketing campaign for Levis, but it is also fostering community spirit in a very economically depressed neighborhood of San Francisco and it is doing a great public service of encouraging pride in our work. No longer should it be just a four letter word! Evidently Levis intends to open other temporary pop-up workshops centered around different work themes in other metropolitan areas around the country soon. Below are some of the photos I took there last July.

Seeing Patterns

With the exception of some of the old Penguin book jackets maybe, patterned book covers don't get much better than this. Lovely! These Scandinavian treasures are courtesy of the Swedish blog, Fine Little Day. Click on the photo for an enlargement.

Uppercase Lucky No.7

I love this cover of the latest Uppercase Magazine designed by one of my favorites, Greg Morgan. You can subscribe and view back issues of Uppercase here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So, it's a Book

OK, I had to bite. It's a children's book embracing traditional book technology, by Lane Smith.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Digital Book Covers

So why can't eBook publishers create animated book cover designs? Charlie Orr, of the Hypothetical Library blog posted this question earlier last Spring and took to creating 3 fine examples. This one entitled, Wake Up Sir! features a cover designed by Paul Sahre in 2003. Orr reimagines an animated version.

Wake Up Sir!—The Digital Book Cover from charlie orr on Vimeo.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The 9 Word Story Contest

I'm usually not big on promoting contests, but this one sounds like fun. Arcade, a local Northwest independent architecture and design magazine, is doing a fundraising campaign and asking people to send in their 9 word stories about design. That is shorter than a haiku folks so this be a challenge! Get writing and editing and you too could win a one week trip to Mexico. Let's hope it's not Juarez! Deadline for entering is September 30th. Voting is by people's choice. Enter here today!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tagging Manhattan

This has to be the biggest single tag of any graffiti artist. A thin orange line of paint winds its way around Manhattan from the Hudson River to the East River and spells out the name of the artist, Momo. Produced in 2006, the 35 year old artist set out to make a trail people could follow, when he realized he could write something planned out on a street grid. Momo produced the nearly 8 mile long orange trail by lashing a funnel-shaped bucket of paint on the back of his bicycle and rode through the streets and sidewalks of Manhattan between 3 and 6 in the morning dripping some 15 gallons of paint over two different sorties. He later made a short impressionistic film of his creation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Joker's Pressroom

Holy Crap! Will the Boy Wonder get inked? Will Batman ever learn to act? Will the Joker learn how to run a press? Tune in and turn on.