Toxic Nostalgia

“I LOATHE nostalgia!” The provocative opening sentence of the legendary magazine editor Diana Vreeland’s 1984 memoir, D.V., would find few supporters today—as a culture, we currently ADORE nostalgia. Design, from I.D. and the digital world to graphics and architecture, is …

Russian Constructive Criticism

From September 4–22, the School of Visual Arts will present Russia Rising: Votes for Freedom  / 30 Artists and Designers Challenge the 2011 and 2012 Russian Elections, an exhibition responding to recent political turmoil in Russia through the language of the …

The Sweet Spot for Protest

Dissent is one of American’s most dearly valued constitutional rights. And protest is one of the most common spectator sports. The latest protest to make its mark in New York City is aimed at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fight against sugar-laced …

Brave New World Revisited Once More for Good Measure

Aldous Huxley’s 1958 Brave New World Revisited is arguably one of the most prescient cautionary books on the present and future of propaganda and manipulation—if also an unintended handbook for some on how to manipulate our minds. I wrote about …

Egmont Arens: Ever Hear of Him?

Recently, A&P’s house blend, Eight O’Clock Ground Coffee, got a packaging face-lift. Actually, it was a crowdsourced makeover “sweepstakes” that started in 2009 and had a curious temporary result (see here and here).  I was talking to Russell Flinchum, an author and …

Type-Land Security

Type designs, like most intellectual property, are subject to pirating. Alter a nuance, change a counter, give the type a slightly different name, and voila!—a new face on an old body. In 1966, the typographer, printer, and historian of printing …

Evergreen: The Glossy of the Underground

This past February, the iconoclast publisher Barney Rosset died at the age of 89. Rosset was the publisher of Grove Press from 1951 until 1985. He published D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in its first unexpurgated U.S. edition in 1957, …

Daniel Clowes, Krazy Kat, and Rory Hayes: New Books on Comics Masters

Not very long ago, a dedicated comics library might have looked less like a rare books room and more like a semi-coherent junk store, containing a three-dimensional scrapbook of out-of-print books, half-completed reprint series, miscellaneous small press magazines, bound photocopies, …

Your Ego Is a Bad Designer

If I were to ask, I’d bet that most people would anticipate that technical difficulties—such things as programming and server-level configuration—would be the greatest challenge of web development. Those things are certainly difficult, but they are rarely the greatest challenge. …