It's the classic gauge. With so much great stuff out there: reported on the blogs, in the press, in all those lovely books we have on our shelves, there's really only one way to seperate the work that you know is good but aren't that fussed about from the stuff you drool over; the stuff you wish you had the talent, skill and opportunity to have done yourself.
Because yes, if we have good eyes and a well informed, level head, we can review graphic design done by others and say that's good, that's not and that's a pile of crap. But then our own personal tastes and aspirations kick in. We see the good stuff we can enjoy but pass by and we see the good stuff that quickens our pulse; the stuff that we wish we'd done.
It's only really the Envyometer™ that gives, on a personal level, an accurate way to measure the worth of a piece of graphic design work.
I've been lucky enough to get hold of a copy of Hat-trick's new book In brief and although it's dimensions are small, it represents a massive body of exceptional work. Mini-page after mini-page delivers nugget after beautiful nugget. Envyometer™ readings at maximum. Brilliant ideas, skillfully executed. And over a period of just 10 years.
It's an abnormally good collection (think they must be in league with the devil or something) and a totally top-notch book. With words by the legendary Nick Asbury.
Not surprisingly, it's selling fast. Go here to secure yourself a copy.
With extra special thanks to Kate at Hat-trick for tolerating my damned cheek and for Nick for putting in a good word for me and for being a generally nice chap.
This is more Karen's domain than mine really, but we all need to know how to make a Hipster Headdress or knit a beard right? Well, thanks to Ziggy from Cicada this man's got the plans: State of Craftincludes 60 step-by-step projects to keep you off the streets and away from those places you just should not go. And don't pretend you don't know what I mean, you wierdo.
If you're not looking for a little something for your head or your chin, there's a pretty impressive jam jar anglepoise to knock up. Or, if the notion takes you, a cross-stitch protest sign that'll keep you busy between riots.
Peirene Press is an independent publisher that translates contemporary European literature into English. Each books is either an award winner or best seller in its original language and each is less than 200 pages, "…so you can read them in the same time it takes to watch a movie", says publisher Meike Ziervogel.
It's all really interesting; very focussed and considered. Books are released in sets of three (I love a set) and each set has a unifying theme. So far Peirene has produced a Series of the Female Voice (2010) and a Series of The Man (2011). 2012 will see The Small Epic series released.
They just happen to be superbly designed too. Both the actual books and the Press's catalogue are beautifully designed by Sacha Davison Lunt. Elegant, contemporary, irresistible. Head over to their website to find out more.
We've all got one haven't we? For some, it might be the Red Nankin or White Cochin. Others might prefer the classic grey base and white lined Clonmore - the graphic designer's favourite. Then there's the Merkle, Norwegian Mulefoot and the Black. You might lean towards shape rather than colour and tone: The Kidney, the one the Germans call the Ungekochtes Brot or (the schoolboy's choice) the Flat Cap (perfect skim-fodder but if it's the one for you I guess you're not going to lob it back into the briny willy-nilly).
I was chuffed and honoured to be asked by Alistair from We Made This to join the exceptional collection of guest writers he's brought together. So far, 16 guest bloggers have covered for him while he peddles the length of the UK. With his mate Dafydd he's cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats. That's 23 days, 35-65 miles a day, 1,050 miles in total and two rather sore arses.
Of course, it's not just for fun. They're raising money for Cancer Research UK.
This'll be quick. We read this book at UX Belfast a few months ago, 100 Thing Every Designer Needs To Know About People and I've been meaning to mention it since. Pitched for web designers, it's like a primer in behavioural insight and, as such, is probably just as relavant to offliners really. It might skim the surface of lots of things rather than give ultra-deep thinking but that just means you can whizz through it and get a good overview. Useful.
The first book I ever read about typography was Ruari McLean's Manual of Typography. There wasn't much to choose from back then; the dark art of typographic practice was still the bastion of The Typesetter, who kept his secrets tucked securely up his jumper. The book was pretty good but, if I remember it correctly, a bit dry. When I finished it, I was a bit dispondent. I wanted to be a typographer but Ruari explained that the typographer's role was a subservient one. In service to the designer or art director.
I didn't really like that. At the time, that is what I was. But I just didn't like it.
And then, by chance, at a secondhand book fair, I happened upon a modest looking paperback volume called "Basic Typography" by some bloke called John R Biggs. It was a bit ugly on the outside, but like I said, there wasn't much around really and well, it was about typography. I snapped it up.
Now I have the utmost respect for McLean - he worked with Tschichold, he knew his stuff - but Biggsy; Biggsy, was an inspiration! There was none of that "in service to whoever", instead it was a powerhouse of typotrickery. Just what I needed. And that's why, although he's perhaps a lesser known champion of his subject, to me JRB is a hero.
Imagine then, the thrill of glancing across a table of encyclopedia's in the War on Want bookshop to see this beauty staring back at me. Shouldering an old lady out of the way, I darted across and grabbed it before anyone else could. (Well, you never know, she might have been a typographer).