The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 23, 2017
by Dan
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Alan Aldridge 1943-2017

British artist and designer Alan Aldridge died last week aged 73. In the words of designer Mike Dempsey, Aldridge “was a major influence on the British design and illustration scene in the 1960’s.” Although he is perhaps best known for … Continue reading

February 22, 2017
by Dan
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Dick Bruna 1927-2017

Dutch illustrator and designer Dick Bruna died last week, aged 89. Much of the coverage has focused on Miffy, the picture book rabbit he created in the 1950’s, but as The Guardian obituary notes, he was also well known as a book … Continue reading

February 13, 2017
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note February 2017

A little later than usual — between one thing and the apocalypse — but there are some great covers out this month, including at least one contender for cover of the year: The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tschaikovsky; … Continue reading

February 9, 2017
by Dan
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Goudy & Syracuse: The Tale of a Typeface Found

The tale of rediscovering Sherman, a typeface designed by American type designer Frederic Goudy in 1910 and revived by Chester Jenkins for Pentagram in 2016 for Syracuse University:

January 27, 2017
by Dan
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1984

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, … Continue reading

January 19, 2017
by Dan
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So Meta

Adrian Shaughnessy talks to Erik Spiekermann about his typeface FF Meta, the corporate font of Herman Miller, for the company magazine WHY: FF Meta was not designed with Herman Miller in mind, however. It was designed for the German Post Office … Continue reading

January 17, 2017
by Dan
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Irma Boom’s Library

The New York Times visits Dutch designer and bookmaker Irma Boom‘s new library of experimental books: Irma Boom pays careful attention to word choice. The Dutch designer, one of the world’s pre-eminent bookmakers, is loath to say “client” and refers to … Continue reading

January 16, 2017
by Dan
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Obama and Books

The New York Times has published a transcript of Michiko Kakutani’s recent conversation with US President Barak Obama about books: Some of the craft of writing a good speech is identical to any other good writing: Is that word necessary? Is it … Continue reading

January 6, 2017
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note January 2017

My first post of 2017 includes some cracking new book covers fresh this month, and a few handsome stragglers from the end of 2016… Happy New Year!  Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson; design by Erin Fitzsimmons (Katherine Tegen Books / January 2017) Always Happy … Continue reading

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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The Rest of the Best

When it comes to choosing the year’s best book covers, it seems that everyone is at it these days… “These covers are challenging without being impenetrable and playful without being precious — none of which is an easy task for … Continue reading

December 13, 2016
by Dan
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Series Design 2016

Some of the most interesting and innovative book covers in the last few years have been designed as part of a series — designers and art directors seem to have more leeway with backlist titles (especially so if the author … Continue reading

December 7, 2016
by Dan
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Notable YA Book Covers of 2016

Hot on the heels of my annual covers post, here is my look back at the year’s young adult book covers. As in previous years, this list is a somewhat crowd-sourced affair, so I must thank all the designers and Twitter-folk who … Continue reading

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