The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

June 8, 2016
by Dan
6 Comments

Book Covers of Note June 2016

Something of a bumper post this month, with lots of black and white covers for some reason. Perhaps it’s a thing…? Addlands by Tom Bullough; design by Jenny Grigg (Granta / June 2016) Barkskins by Annie Proulx; design Jaya Miceli … Continue reading

June 6, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

All the Books

At Literary Hub, Designer Oliver Munday discusses his design process and reading the whole text: As designers, we are forced to read quickly, and incisively, mining for the clues to the coveted iconic cover. It can feel careless at times, … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

A Window onto a Window

In this profile of Peter Mendelsund in the June issue of Rhapsody Magazine, there is a lovely bit about the designer’s architect-artist father: In the living room of Knopf associate art director Peter Mendelsund’s Upper Manhattan apartment, inspiration is everywhere: a battered, sea-green … Continue reading

April 29, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

A Publishing House of Her Own

Joanna Scutts reviews The Lady with the Borzoi, Laura Claridge’s new biography of Blanche Knopf, for the New Republic: When the house of Knopf launched in 1915, publishing was a gentleman’s pursuit—amateur, clubbish, WASP, and above all, male. Blanche and … Continue reading

February 27, 2016
by Dan
0 comments

From Thomas Mann to Amazon — The Art of Literary Publishing in New York

The Millions has a long, but very interesting (and, at times, surprisingly blunt) essay by veteran Doubleday editor Gerald Howard on editing and literary publishing in New York: At the simplest, most basic level, I’ve been reading for a living … Continue reading

November 17, 2015
by Dan
0 comments

Robert Hughes on Robert Rauschenberg

The New York Review Books has an excerpt from the late Robert Hughes’s unfinished memoir — to be published for the first time this month by Knopf in The Spectacle of Skill: Selected Writings of Robert Hughes — on artist Robert Rauschenberg: Rauschenberg’s references … Continue reading

October 19, 2014
by Dan
2 Comments

Peter Mendelsund on Fresh Air

I think there are two primary jobs that a jacket has to do: It has to represent a text and it has to sell it. In a way, a book jacket … is sort of like a title that an … Continue reading

August 6, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Peter Mendelsund, Your New Favourite Designer

On the blog of designer and art director Henry Sene Yee there is a fake poll question: “Who is your favourite book cover designer?” Three of poll’s four possible answers are “Chip Kidd.” The fourth is “none of the above.” The joke … Continue reading

July 29, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Peter Mendelsund, Book Designer, Debuts as a Writer

Designer Peter Mendelsund, who has two new books out next week, What We See When We Read and Cover, is profiled in today’s New York Times: Mr. Mendelsund has long been regarded as one of the top book designers at work today, taking his place … 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

October 22, 2013
by Dan
1 Comment

Design Matters with Chip Kidd

Kicking off a new season Design Matters, designer and art director Chip Kidd in conversation with Debbie Millman:

October 18, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

Chip Kidd: Obsessed with Batman

In this interview from the AGI Open in London earlier this year, Chip Kidd talks about his work designing books covers, his involvement with comics and, of course, his obsession with Batman: You can read recent interviews with Chip discussing his … Continue reading

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