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

November 27, 2016
by Dan
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Notable Book Covers of 2016

It is that wonderful/awful time of year. Wonderful because we get to look back at some of the amazing work people have done over the past 12 months. Awful because lists are arbitrary and someone always misses out. I’m not going … Continue reading

November 11, 2016
by Dan
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The Angelus Trilogy Design by Jason Booher

These Jason Booher covers for the paperback editions of Jon Steele’s The Angelus Trilogy, published by Blue Rider Press in August, bring a whole new meaning to ‘side eye’ I love that they use Albrecht Dürer etchings as part of the design… … Continue reading

November 11, 2016
by Dan
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The Wall

Bob Staake for The New Yorker. 

October 24, 2016
by Dan
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Q & A with James Paul Jones, Oneworld

The work of Welsh designer James Paul Jones for has featured regularly here in the past few years. A versatile cover designer and one of the co-founders of Vintage UK’s design blog CMYK, James was recognised as a ‘Rising Star‘ by … Continue reading

October 13, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note October 2016

Busy, busy October… here are this month’s book covers of note… Aluta by Adwoa Badoe; design Michael Solomon; cover art Shonagh Rae (Groundwood / September 2016) American Ulysses by Ronald C. White; design Eric White; photograph © Colorized History, colorized by Mads Madsen … Continue reading

September 23, 2016
by Dan
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Cynan Jones Covers by Jenny Grigg

I’m a little late to work of Welsh novelist Cynan Jones, but I recently finished reading his award-winning 2014 novel The Dig, and it’s not hard to see what all the fuss is about. The writing is beautifully spare and intimate, and the … Continue reading

September 12, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note September 2016

It’s September. It’s busy. All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan; design by James Paul Jones (Transworld / September 2016) Art of Memoir by Mary Karr; design by Robin Bilardello (Harper Perennial / September 2016) Before by Carmen Boullosa; design … Continue reading

September 6, 2016
by Dan
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A Dickensian Alphabet

Tom Gauld has made a print for London comics store Gosh! to celebrate their 30th anniversary. You can buy it online here.

August 23, 2016
by Dan
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The Great Discontent: Jean Jullien

Tammi Heneveld interviews London-based graphic artist Jean Jullien for The Great Discontent: My parents definitely introduced me to a lot of culture. My dad was keen on French bandes dessinées (comic strips) and music, which probably had something to do with … Continue reading

August 15, 2016
by Dan
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New Penguin Essentials

The latest additions to Penguin’s ‘Essentials’ series, released this month, have some rather splendid new covers, including Jon Gray‘s wonderful design for Embers by Sandor Márai, Julian House’s typographic design (with echoes of Robert Brownjohn) for The Spy Who Came … Continue reading

July 12, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note July 2016

I swear that these posts are taking me longer and longer to compile, but rest assured there are some wonderful covers this month: All the Time in the World by Caroline Angell; design by Lucy Kim (Henry Holt / July 2016) … Continue reading

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