The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

September 29, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Q & A with Dan Mogford

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you will surely have a come across the work of London-based freelance designer Dan Mogford before. His work — including covers for 419 by Will Ferguson, All Over the Map by Michael Sorkin, and Filthy English by Peter Silverton (pictured … Continue reading

June 23, 2014
by Dan
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Q & A with Matt Roeser, Candlewick Press

If you follow book design on social media at all, chances are you’ve come already across Matt Roeser‘s  funny, if somewhat dinosaur-fixated, Twitter feed. But over the past couple of years as senior designer at independent children’s publisher Candlewick Press in Massachusetts, Matt has been quietly producing some bright, brilliant, and … Continue reading

April 24, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Q & A with Erin Fitzsimmons

In recent years, I doubt there’s been a greater publishing success story than Young Adult — or ‘YA’ —  fiction. Sometimes mistakenly described as a genre, YA is actually an age-category roughly ascribed to books across a range of subjects and … Continue reading

March 31, 2014
by Dan
4 Comments

Q & A with Isabel Urbina Peña

If you’ve walked into a North American bookstore recently, or you’ve been paying attention to the book reviews on this side of the Atlantic, you will have no doubt seen the stylish black cover for All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu … Continue reading

January 28, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Q & A with Steven Heller, Shadow Type

“Dimensional typefaces toy with human perception, challenging the limits of cognition. Whether framed by a subtle tint or a bold silhouette, in color or in black and white, a shadow adds bulk, enabling the words to rise voluminously from otherwise … Continue reading

January 22, 2014
by Dan
4 Comments

Q & A with Jessica Sullivan

If you saw my post on Canadian book covers last year, then you’ve already seen the work of Vancouver-based designer and art director Jessica Sullivan. I first came across Jessica’s name in 2009. I was trying to convince Peter Cocking, then art director at … Continue reading

November 7, 2013
by Dan
2 Comments

Q & A with Gene Luen Yang

I wouldn’t be surprised if you were feeling a little disillusioned with comics right now — frictionless superhero movies that deliver ever-diminishing emotional returns; ham-fisted editorial decisions; disputes over rights, compensation and artwork; violence; stupidity; institutional misogyny and racism; and generic … Continue reading

September 25, 2013
by Dan
2 Comments

Q & A with Luke Pearson

I’ve been a fan of Luke Pearson‘s work since picking up a copy of Hilda and the Midnight Giant from Nobrow Press a year or so ago. The beautiful illustrations, quality printing and oversize format gave it the exotic feel of … Continue reading

March 13, 2013
by Dan
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Q & A with Misha Beletsky, Part Two

In part one of our conversation, Misha Beletsky, art director at Abbeville Press, discussed his interest in the work of German-born designer and calligrapher Ismar David, the subject his recent book The Book Jackets of Ismar David, published by RIT Press. In … Continue reading

March 12, 2013
by Dan
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Q & A with Misha Beletsky, Art Director Abbeville Press, Part One

Misha Beletsky is the art director of New York’s Abbeville Press, an independent publisher of fine art and illustrated books. Towards the end of last year, Misha was kind enough to send me a copy of his recent book, The … Continue reading

August 22, 2012
by Dan
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Q & A with P. D. Smith

City A Guidebook for the Urban Age is the fascinating new book by British writer and reviewer by Peter D. Smith. Published by Bloomsbury, it is a wonderfully meandering collection of essays on cultural history of the world’s cities and an exploration of … Continue reading

June 21, 2012
by Dan
3 Comments

Q & A with Barbara deWilde

It would be hard to overstate the impact of Barbara deWilde on contemporary book cover design. Along side Carol Devine Carson, Chip Kidd and Archie Ferguson, Barbara’s designs not only defined the bold, visual aesthetic now commonly associated with Knopf, but helped reinvent … Continue reading

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