The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

March 4, 2017
by Dan
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40 Years of 2000AD

The Guardian looks back on 40 years of British weekly SF comic 2000AD: Forty years ago on 26 February, something extraordinary happened to British comics. Newsagents’ shelves were suddenly stuffed with a brand new title, its masthead garish red and yellow, with … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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Working for the Building

In a long and fascinating interview with the Ballardian, Ben Wheatley talks about J.G. Ballard and his adaptation of High-Rise: Initially, I really enjoyed the cult appeal of [Ballard’s] work, or more specifically the counter-cultural aspect. His books, particularly Crash and … Continue reading

August 8, 2014
by Dan
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Derek Birdsall on Hans ‘Zero’ Schleger

While looking for something else entirely, I recently stumbled across this video of British book designer Derek Birdsall discussing the work of influential graphic designer Hans ‘Zero’ Schleger:   Coincidently, Birdsall turned 80 early this month and Mike Dempsey reposted a link to … Continue reading

April 9, 2013
by Dan
1 Comment

Midweek Miscellany

Ian Thompson reviews Mod: A Very British Style by Richard Weight for The Observer: Mod’s first choice of music was jazz, Richard Weight reminds us. Miles Davis in particular became a fashion icon for blue-eyed soul brothers everywhere in Britain. … Continue reading

January 9, 2012
by Dan
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RDInsights: Michael Wolff in Conversation

Mike Dempsey interviews renowned British designer Michael Wolff,  co-founder of the Wolff Olins Agency, for the RSA’s RDinsights series: RSA Insights: Michael Wolff Interview mp3

August 18, 2011
by Dan
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Don McCullin

Photojournalist Don McCullin is internationally renowned for his images of conflict. But a new exhibition of his photographs at Tate Britain focuses on three other aspects of his work: his first foreign assignment in divided Berlin in 1961; documentary work on … Continue reading

August 5, 2011
by Dan
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Kenneth Grange: Designing the Everyday

As follow up to yesterday’s post, here’s Mike Dempsey in conversation with industrial designer Kenneth Grange in a fascinating interview for the RSA from 2009: RCA: Kenneth Grange 2009 Interview

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