The Takeaway Effect

  In illustration, less is often less.   A few months ago, a London publisher relaunched its backlist of books by the Japanese cult author Haruki Murakami with a striking new set of covers. Now, I have always thought that …

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Why is today’s rebellious design so well behaved?     Five years ago, the British magazine Creative Review published an article written by its editor, Patrick Burgoyne, with the arresting title “The New Ugly.” The possibility that ugliness in graphic …

Throwaway Culture

Why the visual world is in love with waste     Rue de Provence by Jacques Villeglé (photo by Francois Poivret)   After a recent lecture, a British artist and publisher named Tony Hayward approached me with a slender book in hand, …

Press Print

The latest chapter in the history of designers who self-publish     Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson  Like many book authors, I have mixed feelings about working with publishers. It’s wonderful to be published, of course, particularly at the start, …

Observer: The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be

What happened to science-fiction graphics?      There was a time when people turned to science-fiction-minded graphic artists to discover what the future would look like. Mid-20th-century visionaries were wild in their imagination, grandiose in their optimism, and, in hindsight, …

Power by Design

  What kind of influence do designers actually have?     Illustration by Oliver Munday   The issue of power goes to the very heart of the graphic designer’s self-image. Graphic designers never feel as though they have enough power. …

Design as Dictator

Is it time to put away the apps and leave a bit more to chance?   Illustration by Philipp Hubert A few months ago, I arranged to meet a designer friend to go to an art opening. Neither of us …

The Complex Bonds Between Design and Surrealism

  This article appears in the August issue of Print.     I have my former English teacher, Mr. Taylor, to thank for my interest in surrealism. During one class, he described Salvador Dalí’s 1931 painting The Persistence of Memory, …

The Missing Critical History of Illustration

  How seriously should we take illustration? I pose the question in this potentially offensive way because I often wonder how seriously illustration takes itself.      Let me say at once that I have always gained a lot of …