Copertine Bellissime

As a fond farewell to Italy, I’ll switch from pop culture and history to a contemporary talent. Silvana Amato is one of the most enticing book cover and jacket designers in Rome. Her work reveals a passion for craft and …

I Am, Therefore I Buy

Etsy has a Holiday Shop in New York’s Soho neighborhood. So, to all you gift buyers and givers and takers: Ho Ho Ho! Hustle on down to 131 Greene Street for an opportunity to sample and savor designer “bespoke” products and objects …

The Fab Four's Surreal Christmas

Want a surreal Xmas treat? The Beatles’ annual Christmas records were dada, punk, and hipster rolled into one crazily irreverent, hilariously spoken and musical concoction produced on flexi discs and mailed to members of the official mop top fan-clubs in …

When Book Jackets Were Bad, Hawkins's Were Good

Arthur Hawkins, Jr. (1903-1985) was the longtime toastmaster of New York Art Directors Club galas (he was also the Club’s president from 1945 to 1946). I saw him in that role for the first time at an awards evening at …

Design Is Everywhere

Hotel luggage labels are jewels in the graphic design crown. Mini posters, they rank up there among other miniatures for graphic and typographic virtuosity—razor blade wrappers, poster stamps, matchbook covers, etc. There’s no wonderful Latin-sounding word for collectors, but you …

Big Problem, Small Page

Big problems can be solved on small pages. A little book produced in 1919 titled Solving Advertising Art Problems, produced by Advertising Artists, Inc., a commercial art service agency in New York, was published to show commercial artists successful work—particularly …

What Number Brush Did You Use?

In the pre-computer days, comps were painted or drawn, or sometimes collaged, in rough form. Art school emphasized hand skills, lettering with brush and gouache. The following painted “sketches”—from a collection of over 50 found in LA by my colleague …

Great Album, Feeble Cover

You can’t tell an album by its cover. And you can never predict what Bob Dylan is really doing next. His latest album, Tempest, is amazing—possibly the best in decades (especially the title song, a rambling historical ballad about the Titanic …

Corn Pone and Politics

Cornstarch is a fine, powdery starch produced by grinding, washing, and drying the endosperm of the corn until it reaches that powdery state. Cornstarch is gluten-free. It is also a staple that has become a lightning rod in corn politics. …

Elegantissima!

Louise Fili is the most elegant woman I know—no exaggeration—so I had to smile when I learned the title of her monograph was Elegantissima (Princeton Architectural Press). She’s also the most Italian Italian-American I know. (She gets Italian cable!) Louise …