The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

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 7, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note November 2016

I’m not sure anyone is paying too much attention to book design this week, but if you’re looking for a few minutes diversion from the awfulness of almost everything, here’s this month’s selection of quirky, beautiful, and otherwise interesting book covers… Black Water by Louise … Continue reading

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 19, 2016
by Dan
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The Bolted Book Now on Kickstarter

The Designers & Books Kickstarter to publish a facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s 1927 ‘Bolted Book’ (mentioned previously here) is now live:

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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The Bolted Book

Designers & Books, in collaboration with the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York and the Mart, the Museum of modern and contemporary art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy, is launching a Kickstarter campaign on October 18 to publish a new facsimile … 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 2, 2016
by Dan
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Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words

Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words is a short documentary, commissioned by MOCA in Los Angeles, exploring two of the recurring themes in the artist’s work. It was written and directed by Felipe Lima, and is narrated by Owen Wilson: Apparently Ruscha calls his font ‘Boy Scout … Continue reading

August 25, 2016
by Dan
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The Last Punchcutter

One for the letterpress obsessives and tool aficionados, The Last Punchcutter is a beautiful, wordless film capturing Giuseppe Brachino — who was the head of the engraving department of the Nebiolo Company from Turin — hand-cut a punch for metal type: (via Coudal)

August 15, 2016
by Dan
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David Carson: All For a Few Good Waves

If you’re not a fan of David Carson’s (in)famous design work, this video is unlikely to change your mind. It is hard, however, to shake the feeling that he’s having the last laugh… Between this and William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, the surf … Continue reading

August 11, 2016
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note August 2016

Back from vacation and back to the grind… August is traditionally a slow month in publishing, but that isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of great covers around at this time of year… Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe; … Continue reading

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