Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

22 NOVEMBER, 2010

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Book Covers for Penguin Classics

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Coralie Bickford-Smith is easily our favorite book cover designer. Her signature patterns for Penguin breathe new life into some of literature’s greatest classics. Somewhere between Victorian wallpaper and modernist upholstery, her intricate yet minimalist designs emanate a kind of obsessive charm that makes us love the books they grace even more.

The color choices and graphic elements offer a wink with subtle play on elements from the book’s plot or setting to those who would wink back, from the glamorous chandelier of The Great Expectations to scissors of Little Women.

The cover is there to serve the content, so the content has to be taken into consideration. How and to what extent the content is represented on the cover varies of course – sometimes it will be quite literal, other times more oblique, or even just a suggestion of mood and tone.” ~ Coralie Bickford-Smith

But perhaps most stunning of all is Bickford-Smith’s work on Penguin’s recently released F. Scott Fitzgerald series, from The Great Gatsby to Flappers and Philosophers: The Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald and everything in between.

A few of our favorites:

The complete collection can conveniently be found right here.

So if you’re looking for a thoughtful and elegant gift that will mesmerize the design-loving literary fiend in your life, look no further than Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Penguin classics.

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22 NOVEMBER, 2010

Just a Few Cards: 9 Artists Reimagine the Holiday Card

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What exploding Christmases have to do with data visualization and mid-century nautica.

We’re longtime fans of artist Paul Octavious. This season, he’s back with another fantastic project, and he brought a few friends. Just a Few Cards is a collaborative project by Octavious and 8 top designers and illustrators, including Brain Pickings favorite Jacob Livengood and the one and only Nick Felton, who reenvisioned the holiday greeting in a beautiful series of 9 cards, one by each artist.

It started with a conversation between Paul Octavious and Shawn Kelley about the state of Christmas cards and the resurgence of a desire for giving and receiving physical, handwritten notes. That conversation quickly turned into a ‘What if…’ brainstorming session, followed by quick emails to make sure we weren’t completely crazy and ultimately what you see here.”

For just $18, you can get a choice of 9 cards by a sampler set with one from each artist — Julian Callos, Nick Felton, Julia Sonmi Heglung, Kyle Steed, Jay Schaul, Joe Van Wetering, Jacob Livengood, Mark Weaver, and Paul Octavious himself — plus 9 envelopes and one lovely pen.

Seasons Graphings by Nick Felton

Christmas Cookie Crisis by Jacob Livengood

Snowflake by Paul Octavious

Wishing You a Happy Holiday by Julia Sonmi Heglund

peace love and joy by Kyle Steed

Exploded Christmas Tree by Joe Van Wetering

Warm It Up! by Julian Callos

Midcentury Holidays by Mark Weaver

Merry Christmas by Jay Schaul

And here’s our treat just for you: Paul has generously offered to give away a deluxe set Brain Pickings readers — 9 cards, a pack of 3 pens, and 10 US First Class postage stamps. To enter, simply sign up for our newsletter (if you haven’t already) and leave a comment below telling us what your fondest holiday image is — childhood doodle, famous photograph, Dr. Seuss illustration, fine art painting, whatever — and what makes it special for you, then sit tight until Friday, when Paul will hand-pick his favorite answer.

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19 NOVEMBER, 2010

Paula Scher on Combinatorial Creativity

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Paula Scher is one of our favorite designers and arguably the most daring typographer in design history, whose work never ceases to surprise, delight and provoke, thriving on reinvention yet oozing Scher’s unmistakable style. In this excellent microdocumentary, part of Hillman Curtis’ artist series, Scher recounts her creative process on some of her best-known projects, including her famous Citi identity work the iconic New York Public Theater campaign, which evolved into a whole new style that eventually permeated the New York design aesthetic across multiple facets.

The reason we find this interview particularly compelling is that, when talking about how she created the iconic Citi logo on a napkin in a matter of seconds, Scher echoes our founding beliefs in combinatorial creativity — the concept that ideas are born out of the myriad pieces of stuff populating our memories, our knowledge base, our mental pool of inspiration and resources, and creativity is simply the capacity to put those together in incredible new ways.

How can it be that you talk to someone and it’s done in a second? But it IS done in a second — it’s done in a second and 34 years. It’s done in a second and every experience, and every movie, and every thing in my life that’s in my head.

For more on and of Scher, you won’t go wrong with Make It Bigger, her fantastic 2005 book (and one of our five favorite book designs by famous designers), nor would her compelling TED talk on serious versus solemn design disappoint.

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.