Beautifully Briefed, Late January 2023: Winter Potpourri

From book design and minimalist photography to … well, book design and what absolutely isn’t minimalist photography, plus some street signs and another warning about Adobe. Let’s dig in.

Book Design #1: People Really Do Judge a Book by its Cover

From University College Cork — that’s Ireland, folks — we have something that, on the surface, seems obvious: a book cover “is the most likely factor to convince a person to read a book if they are unfamiliar with the work or its author.” Maria Butler, a PhD candidate in the School of English and Digital Humanities at UCC, reminds us why.

Design by Kimberly Glyder.

You’re reading Foreword, so you likely agree — and shown above is one of those worth-a-thousand-words images: the first of the 2023 titles I’ve set aside for my favorites of the year, and absolutely something good enough to make me pluck it off the shelf without knowing anything about either the title or author.

Bonus: See 70 (!) more of my Favorite Book Covers of 2022.

Book Design #2: Shift Happens

A fantastic website has clicked our way: Shift Happens, for a book about keyboards.

A screenshot from the Shift Happens website. Great stuff.

This project not only scores with great web design — check the interactive version of the book, pictured above — but what also seems like great book design. It’s a Kickstarter project (or will be, next month), so the usual cautions apply, but I might just go ahead and take the leap.

Couple of interesting book design items, by the way: the TOC is at the back, the endpapers are awesome, and the macro photography is tops. The book design reminds me of The Playmakers, still my favorite book design project ever.

Bonus: Tim Walsh, author of The Playmakers, is still going strong. Nice.

Photography #1: Minimalism

The winners of the Minimalist Photography of 2022 awards are in, some are fantastic. Here are a couple of favorites, from the architecture category:

“Prince Claus Bridge in the Netherlands,” by Arthur van Orden
“Blue Window,” by Andrea Richey

The Minimalist Photography Award is the only foundation that deals extensively and professionally with minimalist photography as a branch of photography in which the photographic artistic vision takes the lead.

Milad Safabakhsh, President of Minimalist Photography Awards
Photography #2: Wonders of Street View

This is Colossal brings us another gem from Neal.Fun: the Wonders of Street View.

“Wall Driver,” indeed.

Direct quote, just because: “A man with three legs, a vintage car scaling a building, and an unsettling formation of people donning bird masks are a few of the scenarios highlighted in the terrifically bizarre Wonders of Street View.”

I didn’t know it was a thing to dress up and pose for the Google cameras. Perfect.

Street Sign Style Guide

Speaking of street views, did you know there’s a style guide for highway signs? Would you believe that I’m a fan?

Interestingly, there is an I-42/I-17 interchange in Phoenix, but this ain’t it: these signs are representational.

As with most things government, there’s confusion, too many regulations, and yet it’s based around good ideas. Beautiful Public Data has a guide to the guide.

Adobe Steps in it, Again

From DPReview: “If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you might want to go and turn off a new setting immediately. It’s been discovered that Adobe has automatically opted users into a ‘Content analysis’ program that allows Adobe to analyze your media files […] for use in its machine learning training programs.”

It’s important to note that Adobe only uses the files saved in the “Creative Cloud,” something I don’t do as a matter of course, but even still, this is yet another example of Adobe using its monopoly position in the creative field to take advantage of its paying customers.

Adobe, unsurprisingly, didn’t return DPReview’s request for a comment/clarification.

My Favorite Book Covers of 2022

Just like last year, this post took longer than expected due to the best possible circumstance: there were so many great book cover designs in 2022 that I had a hard time whittling down the list. Even as it is, we’re busting right through last year’s limit of 50. Good times!

If we take a step back and look at the trends this years’ favorites represent, it’s more and better illustration, custom and hand-painted type, and a sense of a single focus — one, dominant thing on a field of color. Also, the trend of fewer photographs continues — more evidence that photography has become so ubiquitous that something different is required to stand out. (Or, of course, a really great photograph.)

Please remember that these are my favorites — others might say “best,” but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there’s always another great title you haven’t seen or read about, and I don’t want to disrespect any of the great book designers not on this list. I’ve tried to include design credit where I could (special thanks to the folks who answered emails with that information), and I wish to stress that any mistakes in the list below (incorrect attribution, for instance) are mine.

Note: If you’re on Foreword’s main page, please click on the post title, above, to view this list. You’ll get larger covers for your viewing pleasure.

My favorite book covers for 2022 (Three-way tie):
Design by Julianna Lee.

How to be Eaten combines an aged look, just a smidgen of pencil sketch, hand-drawn type, and those eyes to create something that just goes beyond. I’m certain the background wolf and creases are real, too, either photographed or scanned — bonus points for that all-too-rare practical effects — and all this in what amounts to two colors. Simply awesome.

Design by Na Kim.

The Book of Goose defies use of the words “art form” — it’s the kind of cover that for many designers would be once-in-a-career good. However, Na’s work appears below, was here last year, and speaks to Na’s creativity being, well, a golden goose that just keeps on giving.

Design by Derek Thornton.

Simply put: there’s literally nothing about The Illusion of Simple that isn’t perfect. J’adore.

Other 2022 favorites, in alphabetical order:
Design by Matt Bray.

This is striking not only for the beautifully-photographed woman in the pool, but the way the pool is extended out to make that woman even more striking. The pattern overlay is fantastic, too.

Design by Pete Garceau.

There’s nothing about this not to like: the frankly perfect illustration on a great background color, the head through the “O,” subtitle censorship bar, the sock, even the title. Enjoy-a-cigarette-after good.

SoHo Press didn’t return a request for cover design information.

Bunch of aged books with a little type, right? Yes, by so much more: striking colors, great hand-done supplementary text, perfect title treatment, style in spades.

Design by Jo Walker.

This is a UK cover — the American one is okay, but not on this list — that celebrates a minimalism that is rarely seen, let alone so well seen.

Design by Tyler Comrie.

What’s not to say about this cover? While faceless women are perhaps overused, this is a book I’d snatch off the shelf — and seemly catch something from — in an instant. Well. Done.

Design by Oliver Munday.

As simple illustrations go, this one in on track for the city of Superlative. Another Oliver Munday classic.

Illustration by Seb Agresti.

Along with “faceless woman” is “headless woman,” but the illustration here more than makes up for it. But it’s the expert, almost laugh-out-loud use of a void that makes it. Well done.

Design by Aleia Murawski and Sam Copeland.

Sure, the title and background colors are neat, the sky outside is cool, and “a novel” is a nice, subtle addition. However: I want to know how this photograph happened. (And a waffle hot dog.)

Design by Maddie Partner.

The first of a couple of titles with unexpected wrap-around type treatments, this one has great type choices, too. But the real treat for me is the plane knocked out the photograph. Fantastic.

Design by Suzanne Dean.

This title hides a secret: under the simple and wonderfully-die-cut jacket is a beautiful photo from René Groebli’s photoessay The Eye of Love.

Awesome. (Note that, once again, we celebrate the UK version of the book; the US hardcover has a design not on this list. Crumpets.)

Design by Mike Topping.

The moon as O. The birds. The graduation from fur to imagery. The yellow. Any would be good on their own, but are great together. Have to say: I’ve seen this in multiple shades of yellow. I prefer the darker — closer to the Barnes title, above — to the lighter, shown here.

Design by Anna Morrison.

The typography, awesome little plane — the purse(r)! — the clouds, all of it: sky-high levels of good.

Interestingly, Fight Night‘s cover also had a 2021 version worthy of note:

Design by Patti Ratchford, illustration by Christina Zimpel.

I can’t begin to imagine what caused the redesign, or why it wound up being so radically — 180 degree! — different. The old design wound up on some “best covers” lists (here’s LitHub’s October 2021 post, for instance); both have wound up on mine.

Design by Ploy Siripant.

The bird exiting the scene stage right makes this just right, with bonus points for the textured paper and slightly-rounded sans serif. I think the illustration is perfect — classically done, one could say — and also love that “author of Want” is in a different font.

Design by Vi-An Nguyen.

Four Treasures to the Sky, mentioned in the May book cover design roundup, leaps into the best-of-the-best list. It features an aged look, but in a woodblock way that celebrates its limited palette. Add in the illustration’s interactions with the type and the vertical “a novel” — often an afterthought — and brilliance emerges.

W. W. Norton didn’t respond to a cover designer request. Apologies.

As photomontages go, this one is simple — yet simply powerful: red Albania meets (and hugs!) beheaded Stalin. Great choices.

Design by Alison Forner.

The quality of type and decorations on this “label” are beyond outstanding. This cover is candy for book design lovers and readers alike.

Design by Alex Merto.

From It’s Nice That, we have a nice feature on Alex Merto — whose Ghost Wall cover is a great example of plant life adding so much more: “the force of a river to the head,” to paraphrase Emma Donoghue’s quote. Plus, one color! Win.

Design by Grace Han.

Nine parts awesome: type and illustration join to light a fire under the words “quality” and “imagination.” (Have I mentioned that I love a textured paper? Here’s a different one that’s also great.) This is one of several titles that’s not only a great book cover, but on a bunch of “best book” lists, too. Great books should have cover equal to their contents, and this one scores.

Design by Emily Mahon.

This isn’t here because of the attention Ukraine deserves these days, it’s here because of that illustration. Brilliant design needn’t be complicated, so ably proved here.

Design by Lucy Kim.

I mentioned at the top of the post that, these days, photographs have to bring something special to the table to stand out. And this cover does, from any table in any bookstore anywhere. (Lovely typography choices here, too.)

Design by Matthew Broughton.

One trend I didn’t mention at the top of the article is the montage-in-type, done here to absolute perfection.

Design by Andrea Ucini.

The woman in looking off the edge of the page at … something looking back. (Not only that, whatever it is casts a shadow.) The book is described as “subtle yet candid,” something that could equally be said about this brilliant cover.

Design by Holly Ovenden.

Another UK cover, this image doesn’t show the uncoated stock and debased type — but does show the jump-off-the-shelf color choices and awesome interaction of title with background. (The US cover, alas, resorted to stereotype. Perhaps we aren’t sophisticated enough?)

Yale Univ. Press didn’t respond to a request for the cover designer.

Choose a interesting texture, put some blocks of color on it, some type and … done. Hah! (Seriously, just look at the hands: they say it all.) Bonus to the hints of doily in heaven.

Design by Emma Ewbank.

The wrap-around title treatment makes another appearance here, with bonus second and third layers and a perfectly-done pull quote. With the aged ink fill and type accenting the striking illustration, this one is in that “wall-worthy” category.

Design by Matt Dorfman.

On our second Ukrainian title, both flower and umbrella work together here to force us to stop and look. (The stenciled type is a brilliant stroke, too.) Proof that genius often appears simple.

Design by Jenny Carrow.

The montage, taken to the next level: Jaffa, orange exports, and an healthy serving of emotion. (Also: curved text is rarely so on-target.)

Design by John Gall.

So simple, yet it is precisely that reaching off the shelf, grabbing your attention. This book is described as “spare and monumental,” and no less can be said of the cover.

Design by June Park.

“Texture is key,” sure, but there’s texture and there’s this. The island’s brush strokes into what seem like a moon are whatever happens beyond perfection. I didn’t expect this cover for a novel about Pakistan, yet the emotion, the … evocation is perfect.

Design by Oliver Munday.

Apple? Tongue? Misfit teenager? Disturbed and distressed? Yes.

W. W. Norton didn’t respond to a request for cover design information.

Rarely are such seemingly “dry” subjects treated with such skill: the angled type set against an urgent red, the subtitle sticker-that’s-better, and the photo choices add up to something I’d grab off a shelf immediately.

Cover design: Christopher Sergio

LitHub says this one has a very high “hang on the wall” factor. I can’t think of a better description — great stuff.

Cover design: Na Kim

Na Kim just can’t help but design the best covers: a wonderful, antique background complimented by sheer brilliance. (Great typography, too.)

Cover design: Emily Mahon

It’s nigh-on impossible to look at this cover and not flip it around to read the text trisecting the leopard. Take something simple, add the elusive more, get this. Yeah.

Cover design: Jim Tierney

Another fantastic example of plants adding more than the sum of their parts. The mottled green background and watercolor-style falloff is perfectly complimentary. Great stuff.

Macmillan did not return my inquiry regarding a cover designer.

From the Banned Books Department, we have the 20th Anniversary edition of this difficult title rendered in a photo-based collage that’s nothing short of brilliant. Highest praise.

Bonus: Kudos, too, to Open Culture: The New York Public Library Provides Free Online Access to Banned Books: Catcher in the RyeStamped & More.

Design by Anna Jordan.

Very nearly the perfect black-and-white cover. Texture and shape combine with an incredible title treatment in a way that shrugs off the need for color. Fantastic.

Design by Allison Saltzman, art by Sonya Clark.

I’ve said before that moving to the South was a bit of a shock — the racism still all-too-evident jars all-too-often. This cover takes a simple, elegant idea and, without any of the stereotypes so often reached for, delights with style and simplicity, absolutely earning its spot in this list. (This is another of those titles that’s on many “best of” book lists, too. It’s a genuine pleasure to see worthy books get great covers.)

Design by Holly Macdonald.

“Wow” is the only word here — a stunner of a photograph used in, if I may borrow from the cover, a breathtaking way. Simple, elevated to exquisite.

Design by Jamie Keenan.

Never mind that I never knew Cary Grant was once a stilt walker (or named Archie Leach), this is an exercise in using a famous face in an innovative way, with a cast of supporting characters that flow as naturally as lines on paper. A trip through the possible — fantastically well-done.

Design by Jamie Stafford-Hill.

Fantastic type and color treatments, yes, but it’s the way the photograph is handled that shines: where the eyes are, the color treatment implying front and side, all of it. A 2016 book reissued in hardcover with a cover guaranteed to attract new readers.

Design by Oliver Munday, or perhaps Erik Rieselbach (depending on who you ask).

This cover is the antithesis of a swelled, salted herring: it’s brisk, to the point (if I do say so), and throws a life ring out to inspire book designers everywhere.

Book design: David Drummond

Brilliant: actual text, printed (on a great color paper, too), with actual string, photographed on said print. Not only is it exactly right for the subject matter, it’s simply and beautifully done.

Cover design: Jack Smyth

Never mind the great brushed color blocks or boat-rowing-the-ocean above the title. This is here mainly for the overlap between color and island: shortlisted for the prize for intersection-of-the-year.

Design by Luke Bird.

“I’ll just do a little cropping,” designers say. Then there’s … genius.

Design by Mary Austin Speaker, art by Stacia Brady.

Another piece of art that’s absolutely wall-worthy — actually by the author’s mother — complimented by a tasteful type treatment with a wonderfully-offset “poems.”

Design by Colin Webber.

“Great” can’t even begin to describe this cover — from the lemon shape, staggered type, green background, back-of-head portrait, to the slightly-aged treatment, we have ingredients that add up to that highest of achievements: a book I’d buy knowing nothing about, no hype [machine] needed.

Design by John Gall.

Classical painting with a singularity. Sure. So easily pulled off … if you’re John Gall.

Graywolf Press didn’t respond to a request regarding cover design.

The title treatment is the winner here, using two translucent shades of orange to the best possible effect — taking a nice painting/illustration to the top floor.

Design by Alex Merto.

Describing this cover as “haunting” would be a cheat — but completely accurate. (Love the line of type down the right side, too.)

Design by Jamie Keenan.

The rare type-only treatment … taken to an entirely new level. Fantastic.

Design by Christina Vang.

A triumph of textures: one matchbook you never want to throw away.

Design by Lauren Peters-Collier.

Breaks through more than water and time: it’s thrust into your memory. (See a note from the designer at LitHub’s cover reveal.)

Design by Albon Fischer.

One of only two text-only treatments in this list, done in a ’70s style — yet taken to a clever and impressive level. (Love the stacked “lls.”)

Design by June Park.

I adore how the type and frankly fantastic illustration work together here. Wonderful!

Design by Claire Rochford.

Cookbooks rarely make an appearance on “best book covers” lists — yet this one earns its spot with an antithesis-of-the-stereotype approach. Ordinary it is not, in the best possible way.

Design by Jack Smyth.

Another UK version — the US version is good, more than most even, but it’s this one that shines with its great photo choices, cut lines, and great type treatment.

Design by Katie Tooke.

This one’s a two-fer, with the UK version, above, showing the book-edge treatment done really well, while the US version…

Design by … ?

…takes it to another level. Is there such a thing as a cloud globe? Or is that one of those old-fashioned stock-ticker covers? Either way, the subtle pattern — in front in some places, receding in others — adds a wonderful touch. Great stuff. (Great, too, to see the US version take one: a rare treat.)

YUP didn’t respond to an info request. Apologies.

Yale University Press scores a win here, with something immediately recognizable as about music, yet so much more. Performance art, indeed.

Design by Na Kim.

Na Kim apparently not only did the design but the illustration, as well. The rest of us can only aspire to that level of talent.

Cover design: Leanne Shapton

This illustration being in grayscale is, at first, a little off. But, of course, that’s exactly the point. I overuse “brilliant,” but it’s the best description. (Again, see a note from the designer at LitHub‘s cover reveal.)

Design by Elizabeth Yaffe.

Family epics, climate change, dystopian futures, and Moon — all somehow included in this rich illustration. Two-color greatness. (Bonus: Another great use of “a novel,” something often “meh.”)

Design by Brian Moore.

A standout historical photograph is only the beginning: it’s really the coloration that’s the story here, for both book and cover — so well done.

Design by Kelly Blair. Illustration by Toby Leigh.

Among the best book cover illustrations ever, perfectly inserted into the seatback in front of you. (Great Circle’s cover was in last year’s list, by the way.)

Design by Christopher Moisan.

There’s something about underwater photography, with its beautiful, soft light and fascinating reflections, that is evocative — and there’s nothing about this photograph that isn’t evocative. A triumph.

• • •

Whew. Seventy great book covers. 70!

Okay, let’s summarize: 2022’s crop of favorite covers not only surpass 2021’s, the quality of work here represent what I believe to be a new standard. To all the designers — and art directors that chose them — congratulations.

Looking forward to 2023!

How we got here:

My selections stem from books I’ve seen in person; the “best of” lists from NPRThe New YorkerKottke, The Guardian, and the BBC; and the best book cover lists from Spine, The Washington PostCasual OptimistKottkeCreative Review, and LitHub. See how my list compares with theirs — a great many more outstanding examples of cover creativity await.

See also: my favorites from 2022’s University Press Design Show.

Beautifully Briefed, Holiday Edition (Late December, 2022): Nick Heer, Jason Kottke, Stealing Sheep, a Landscape Photograph, and Some Old Logos

“The Bleak Cycle”

I don’t usually think it’s fair to quote another blog post in its entirety, and I certainly won’t make a habit of it. With that out of the way, the always-interesting Pixel Envy, written by Nick Heer, hits us with a doozy — one that, due to its length and depth, requires the complete quote:

The Bleak Cycle

It’s a cycle. People create something, together, that reflects their energy and weird work; that thing becomes compelling as a result, and that makes it valuable, and at some point someone puts a price on it and someone else pays that price. It is at that moment that the thing begins to change. The new owner will almost always decide that what is most interesting about this thing is not the human essence that gave it value, but The Owner Himself, and will act accordingly. People will come back for the valuable stuff until the owner succeeds in crowding it out; when that crowding is done, the owned thing dies. Until then, what’s left is just what’s valuable—the humanity and brilliance and unpredictability and fun that all that cynical and idiotic and self-serving wealth is always and everywhere busy replacing with itself. There’s nothing to do but look for the good stuff until the looking becomes too challenging, or until it’s gone.

David RothDefector

Heer writes in response: “You may disagree with Roth’s headline thesis — ‘everything is Silicon Valley now’ — or his tie-in with the story du jour, Twitter, or his analysis of baseball’s problems. But the paragraph above? That is something to keep pinned in your brain. For most of us, it is a reminder to be wary of how things are changed in exploitative ways; for those in power, it should be seen as a cautionary pattern.”

Pinned.

Kottke is Back!

After a few months off, Jason Kottke is back in the blogger’s seat to enrich all of our lives. As someone who’s been reading for years — he started in 1998, and I’m certain his site was in the blogroll of the old Foreword, back in the Aughts.

Fine hypertext products indeed: Kottke.org, December, 2022.

We might be waiting a while for his so-called “comically long what I did on sabbatical post,” but his Sabbatical Media Diet post is a gold mine of to-read and to-watch items.

Welcome back, sir. May you blog for many seasons more.

Stop Stealing [Free] Sheep

No, not that — the type book:

From Kottke, while we’re on the subject, one of his Quick Links from Dec 20th: “Google Fonts is offering a free download of the newly updated 4th edition of Erik Spiekermann’s Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works.” It’s a PDF, available now.

9th Annual Landscape Photography Awards

It’s fair criticism to say that I both decry photography contests and yet sometimes celebrate the results. But…:

“The Winding Journey” by Max Rive, Border Between Chile And Argentina, Patagonia

Wow. I couldn’t not highlight that photograph.

Many more at the source. (Via DPReview.)

Oldest Logos Still in Use

Image Relay has an interesting item showing how long some familiar logos have been used — and, yeah, there’s a reason they’re familiar!

The black triangle is when the company was founded, and the bar indicates how long a logo with elements still used today has been around.

That’s but a sample of the complete listing; shown are nos. 3–8. Coca-Cola, the company I’d probably name if asked for the oldest logo, is no. 12. Click through for the rest.

That’s it for this year

Foreword will be back in January with our annual first-of-the-year best-of: my favorite book covers of 2022. Happy holidays, everyone!

Top image: Tree Lights, December 2020, downtown Macon, Georgia.

Gallery Update: Dublin

Named for the city in Ireland, Dublin in Georgia is an hour or so southeast of Macon. It’s my third trip there, and, like last time, I enjoyed Gerald’s company.1He seemed to enjoy the trip, rain notwithstanding, but apparently the creative juices didn’t flow. (Sorry, man.) Details here.

It has a photogenic downtown, too:

Corker (of a) Building, W. Jackson St.
Fountain and Holiday Tree, N. Monroe St. and Bellevue Ave.

The Welcome Park includes a clock and bell complete with clover, reminding visitors that the name is, in fact, a tribute:

Dublin Welcome Tower #1

As has become typical, my favorite — “best” is debatable, of course — shot is a close-up that’s almost an abstract. In this case, a turquoise box car in the appropriately-named Railroad Park:

Pull Down for Camel, Dublin Railraod Park

Just off the main drag we found an item thankfully not yet painted over:

Aqua Fox, Jefferson and Madison

. . . Which may, in fact, be a holdover from a bygone era. In fact, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call this subject out:

Laurens and Dublin Mural (No Biases Shown), S. Lawrence St.

The only people of color depicted here are Native Americans, relegated to viewing (probably from afar), and two Blacks, very much shown “in their place.” (Dublin still prominently features a Confederate memorial, as well.) Let’s hope that this small city continues its journey into the 21st century, one step at a time.

See the updated gallery here. As always, once in the gallery, click on any photograph to start a slide show.

  • 1
    He seemed to enjoy the trip, rain notwithstanding, but apparently the creative juices didn’t flow. (Sorry, man.) Details here.

Beautifully Briefed, Automotive Edition (December 2022): Audi, Lancia, Kia, and Mercedes-Benz

This time, it’s three automotive logos . . . and Mercedes’ accounting department, plus a holiday bonus. Joy to the Auto!

New Audi Logo Falls Flat

Audi’s “Four Rings” have been around for a long time — since Auto Union was formed, ninety years ago:

Now Audi follows the pack (see VW, Mini, Volvo, etc.) and converts their logo from three-dimensional to two; the rings now are either white and framed by a thin black border or dark grey with black borders.

Four-ring closeup. (It’s hiding sensors, too.)

Not an improvement, IMHO. One of the articles mentions the concept of “a consequence of digitalization,” and think that’s about as good a description as you’re gonna get.

The change will roll out starting with the updated Q8 e-tron — which, thankfully, still looks good:

Even better in Sportback form:

Dezeen has the best coverage of Audi’s new logo, but see also Motor1 and CarScoops for more pictures.

Lancia Debuts … a Mouse

Okay, it’s not really — it’s a conceptual sculpture, titled “Pu+Ra Zero,” that represents their rebirth:

They call it a “a three-dimensional manifesto,” and no, I don’t get it either. (The light signatures and, apparently, the circular sunroof will carry through to the new models, however.) The logo, their eighth in 116 years, is new as well:

I didn’t know Lancia well (only in passing? Eh. —Ed.) until the famous Top Gear segment naming them “the Greatest Car Manufacturer of All Time,” although I knew of the Delta Integrale — and think that the Fulvia is one of the prettiest sedans ever:

The 1972 Lancia Fulvia

Let’s hope their new models, and conversion to an all-electric manufacturer, lives up to their past achievements. Meanwhile, The Autopian has the best roundup of the new Lancia.

Kia, KN, and … Wait, What?

30 thousand folks a year are doing Google searches for “the KN car.” Why? Kia’s logo, of course:

Thankfully, the Autopian to the rescue:

I’m not a huge fan of the new Kia logo — and can absolutely see the “KN problem” — but I think it speaks more to modern society that this is a news item than anything related to graphic design. Willing to be wrong.

Mercedes: $1200/yr for Full Output

This subscription thing has gotten seriously out of hand: Mercedes-Benz USA, in an effort to further bilk their customers — ’cause, y’know, MBs don’t cost enough — has decided that the last 60-110 horsepower available on their 2023 electric vehicles are only available for a yearly fee.

The MB EQS gets even less attractive.

Gak.

Holiday Bonus: Free Online Automotive Design

Interested in car design? Happy Holidays.

Beautifully Briefed, Thanksgiving Edition (November 2022): Book Sculpture, Architectural Arcades, and Artists Sunday

This time, art from old encyclopedias, architectural art, and an appeal to add art to your post-holiday shopping and giving plans.

Books as Art — In a Different Way

Cara Barer says, “Books, physical objects and repositories of information, are being displaced by zeros and ones in a digital universe with no physicality.  Through my art, I document this and raise questions about the fragile and ephemeral nature of books and their future.”

It’s more than that, though:

As This is Colossal puts it: “With cracked spins and crinkled pages, the manipulated objects reference the relationship between the natural and human-made as they evoke flowers at peak bloom.”

As a book designer, I’m glad that the titles used aren’t something a designers labored over but rather mostly instruction manuals and old encyclopedias. Either way, they’re a beautiful way to make commentary.

See more at her website.

“Photographic escapades in arcades and colonnades”
Liberty Station, San Diego by Keith James

Few scenes set my photographic heart aflutter as does the view down a long covered walkway towards a distant, barely visible vanishing point. As a self-confessed symmetry addict drawn to architectural images in black and white, photographing these vistas scratches a deep creative itch.

Keith James, MacFolios

His article is well-illustrated, informative, and speaks to my heart: I love a good arcade — although, in some cases, I feel like an entry or exit makes the point:

Vassar College Chapel Arcade, September 2021

This is not the first time I’ve admired Keith’s work. His “Architecture Meets Sculpture in Black and White: the Interplay of Light and Form” was great work. Both articles are highly recommended.

Artist Sunday

For those of you in the United States, this weekend is the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s also that most American of traditions: a shopping weekend. I have spent recent years boycotting Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and am encouraged by the emergence of Giving Tuesday. Here’s something to add to that list:

Photographer Chris Sherman developed the concept of “Artists Sunday” in 2019, after noticing a bump in sales on that day in November. “The idea struck,” Sherman told Hyperallergic. “What a great time to patronize artists — during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.” 

In 2020, Sherman launched the project alongside Cynthia Freese, a fellow artist who has also spent extensive time on the boards of arts nonprofits. On a dedicated website, Sherman and Freese provide artists and arts organizations with free marketing materials to promote the event. Now in its third year, over 4,000 artists and more than 600 towns and cities across the country have signed onto the initiative, which takes advantage of special events and partnerships (with nonprofits, individual artists, and businesses) to spread the message.

Happy Thanksgiving.

New Gallery: Fickling Mill

An unintended postscript to the recent photostroll, and another in the lengthy list of places you pass through without stopping — except, this time:

Signs of White Flash
Shell Motor Oil

While tiny, Fickling Mill in 2022 is eye-catching, thanks to this building at the water crossing, and likely represents exactly what the name advertises — the location of a former mill of some sort, driven by the power of the water of Patsilinga Creek.

Patsiliga Creek Over the Fickling Mill Dam

We were there late in the day, hence the fading-yet-still-golden light:

Windmill Decor and Patsiliga Creek

Only nine photographs, but posted as a dedicated gallery. Enjoy your virtual photostroll — and thanks for visiting.

New Gallery: Talbotton

The county seat of Talbot (Wiki) was the primary destination of our recent photostroll, another of those places that are often passed through without stopping. A small, poor town — and county — its rich history absolutely deserves a home here amongst the galleries of Georgia.

Monroe Street Storefonts, Downtown

Founded in 1828, Talbotton was a center of education for the area; its architectural splendor reflects a wealth no longer present. Even the later courthouse (1892) is a beautiful structure:

Talbot County Probate Court, 26 Washington Ave.
Talbot County Court Tower #3

There was one structure in particular that I wanted to visit: the Zion Episcopal Church, an 1848 wooden item, painted dark brown with white shutters:

Historic Zion Episcopal Church, Circa 1848

Unfortunately, Georgia’s early- and mid-century legacy survives intact. From the Zion Church’s Historical Marker:

The choir loft at the east end of the structure opposite the sanctuary, above the narthex, is flanked on each side by a gallery, where slaves worshipped prior to the conflict which many believed temporarily destroyed Southern culture.

Georgia Historical Commission, 1955

The church is still beautiful, it’s still beautifully preserved and maintained, and I’m glad that we can, in 2022, look at it in the historical context it deserves.1Read more about Zion Episcopal and its place in Talbotton here.

Zion Episcopal Church (Window Detail #2)

See the church and all of Talbotton — 34 photographs in all — in the new gallery here.

Thanks to Gerald for a pleasant Sunday of fine photography.

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    Read more about Zion Episcopal and its place in Talbotton here.

Updated Gallery: Thomaston

Despite the leaves pretty much, well, leaving us, yesterday was too nice a day to not do a photostroll — or three, in our case. First up: Sprewell Bluff Park. Located in rural Upson County on a lovely bend in the Flint River, the park has long been one of those places that was driven by and not visited.

Flint River from Sprewell Bluff #1

Glad to have fixed that! Better still, it’s more than just a bluff with a view:

River and Tree in Afternoon Sun, Sprewell Park (#2)
Cairn on the Riverbank, Sprewell Park
Flint River Shoals at Sprewell (#2)
Bluff Base, Flint River

As it’s technically located there, the Thomaston gallery has grown by nineteen photographs — check it out. (As always, once in the gallery, click on any photograph to start a slide show.)

Stay tuned for Talbotton and Fickling Mill, which will be posted as soon as possible.

Thank you!

Architectural Photography 2022 Awards Shortlist

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of photography competitions. Like I did last year, though, there’s an exception for this one: not because it’s better than some — there’s still the problem with rights, methods of compensation, etc. — but because it’s so up my alley. (Pun intended.)

If you’ll pardon the cliché, great architectural photography is more than the sum of the building’s parts. These great shots show just that:

Cycling Under the Circles, Berlin, Germany, by Marco Tagliarino (Exterior)
Shapes of Soul, Milan, Italy, also by Marco Tagliarino (Interior)

Entry photographs are divided into six categories: Exterior, Interior, Sense of Place, Buildings in Use, Mobile (with Bridges being this year’s theme), and Portfolio (focusing on the theme of Transport Hubs).

Glass Floor, Tokyo, Japan, by Tom Ponessa (Buildings in Use)
Architecture 1, location not listed (but pretty cool, IMHO), by Stephane Navailles (Bridges)
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, China, by Kangyu Hu (Transport Hubs)

There are many more to be enjoyed: ArchDaily has an article and gallery up, and the Guardian has a gallery, too. Enjoy.

The post’s featured photograph, top, is Nest, Dali, China, by Alex Chan, from the Exterior category.

Updated Gallery: Milledgeville

The small city of Milledgeville, on the banks of the Oconee River in nearby Baldwin County, is a favorite for photography. In this case, Gerald and I stopped on our way home from Sandersville, and spent some time wandering the historic district.

Aged Signage, 101 W. Mcintosh St., Circa 1911
Fall Color, First Presbyterian Church (#1), S. Wayne St.
(Extended) Weathervane, Old Courthouse Building, 201 W. Hancock St.

I especially liked this gate:

Gate and Stairs (Going Up), 129 S. Wayne St.

We were these the day after (part of) the Deep Roots Festival, which meant some street decorations lingered:

Deep Roots Festival Balloons, S. Wayne St.

Oh, and happy Halloween:

Happily Haunted Window, S. Wayne St.

See all my photographs from Milledgeville in the updated gallery. Thank you for visiting. See you in November!

Beautifully Briefed, Late October 2022 [Updated X2]: Translucent Hummingbirds, Honda, Landscape Photography, and … Vampires!

In this edition: Hummingbirds, the UK’s 2022 Landscape Photography of the Year 2022, a potential new logo treatment from Honda, and something just in time for Halloween.

Who Knew: Hummingbird Edition
Wow.

Taken when the creatures are mid-flight and beating their wings at incredible speeds, Spencer’s striking photos capture sunlight as it filters through their feathers, emitting a full spectrum of color. The opalescent phenomenon is caused by diffraction and transforms their limbs into tiny, ephemeral rainbows.

This is Colossal

Let’s set aside for the moment the time and energy get these photographs and just celebrate that Australian photographer Christian Spencer worked to get these shots. Better still, there’s a book:

Like the typography in addition to the photograph, too. Thanks to This is Colossal for pointing us in this pretty wonderful direction.

New Honda Logo?

This hasn’t been reported anywhere, so I don’t know whether there’s a shift ahead for Honda (pardon the expression), but…:

This is a photograph — well, graphic — of the 2024 Prologue EV. Note that instead of the classic “H” seen on every Honda since I don’t know when, the name is spelled out.

Maybe it’s because this is a rebadged GM?

Either way, you heard it here first. (Read more about the Prologue on Motor1.)

Update, 29 October 2022: Motor1 has another preview, this time of the upcoming 11th-gen Accord, the rear of which uses the usual “H.” So, electric-only? Models from 2024?

Update, 7 November 2022: Here’s a future Honda model for China with the name spelled out. (Here’s the Motor1 story, and a second, better article from Autopian.) So … maybe?

2022 Landscape Photography of the Year

These haven’t gotten much press here in the US, and they deserve better:

Windmill in the Mist, Itay Kaplan – winner, historic Britain
Loch Awe, Damian Waters – winner, lines in the landscape

My personal favorite is this stunning shot:

Ascension, Demiray Oral – winner, classic view

The Dragon’s Back.1The aptly-named Dragon’s Back is in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains, Wales. Take a walk. Thanks to The Guardian for the slideshow. See the entire list of winners on the official contest website.

Vampires!

Speaking of slideshows on The Guardian, they had a great subject just in time for Halloween: “Cinema’s unquenchable thirst for vampires celebrated in posters.”

A classic.
A future classic — scary-great.

Unquenchable thirst, indeed. Enjoy.

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    The aptly-named Dragon’s Back is in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountains, Wales. Take a walk.

Updated Gallery: Sandersville

As promised yesterday, there’s more from Sandersville. This time, the City Cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

Sandersville’s City Cemetery National Register Sign

Some beautiful statuary within:

Not all of the plots are marked with statuary, but some have beautiful markers.

Sandersville the site of a skirmish on Sherman’s March to the Sea, and according to the official history, probably took place in the cemetery grounds itself.

A plot marker in marble, together with the U.S. and Georgia flags.
The St. Paul AME Church, seen through the fall foliage.
Long-leaf pine is typical of this area, and provides some lovely shade.

An enjoyable time on a beautiful fall day. See all of the photographs from Sandersville in the updated gallery here.

New Gallery: Sandersville, Georgia

Sandersville, seat of Washington County, was the photography destination this past weekend. Gerald and I wanted to get out and enjoy this beautiful stretch of fall weather, and this small city — with its National Register-listed cemetery (more on that tomorrow) — hadn’t yet been explored.

Dr. Gate, W. Haynes St.

There was a pleasant little park off what I’m calling Courthouse Square (it doesn’t seem to actually be named that):

Park Arch, S. Harris St.
Park in the Square, S. Harris St.

The Washington County Courthouse is a beautiful and historic building, like many here in Georgia:

Washington County Courthouse #3

Can’t close without a plug for the home team:

Drink Coke, Get Waves

See all of the photographs from Sandersville in the new gallery, and stay tuned for more tomorrow. Thanks!

See also: Gerald’s journal post on the trip.

Beautifully Briefed, Early October 2022 [Updated]: Triboro’s Lyrics, Hoefler’s Daggers, and Skoda and Citroen Provide Contrast

This time, we’ve got some great book design (with a bonus), Hoefler educates on typography (with a bonus), and two updated car company logos. Let’s get right to it!

Print Magazine on the design of Lyrics

The still-very-relevant-in-2022 Print Magazine brings us a great feature on the design of Paul McCartney’s book, Lyrics:

Front and back covers of Paul McCartney’s Lyrics, by Triboro Design.

Turns out it was designed by an outfit called Triboro Design, from Brooklyn (appropriately). Print brings us an interesting interview with David Heasty, the principal:

I […] found him to be sharp, quick, articulate, and modest. Below, we discuss Paul’s involvement with the project, the book’s gorgeous bespoke typeface, and the importance of staying true to a legend’s vision.

Ellen Shapiro, Print Mag
The “S” spread of Paul McCartney’s Lyrics, by Triboro Design.

Interesting and informative. Catch this interview when you can.

Bonus: Looking at Triboro’s website, this lovely piece of typography stood out:

Triboro Design’s Zolo Jesus album typography creates desire.
Hoefler Discusses Daggers

In “House of Flying Reference Marks,” Jonathan Hoefler talks about daggers, or, what you use when an asterisk isn’t enough:

Hoefler on daggers.

Beautiful examples, complete with a phrase you don’t hear everyday: “twisted quillon.” Read and enjoy. (If the opportunity presents, follow on with the ampersand article — which, uh, takes a stab at where the word came from. Nice.)

Bonus: Creative Boom’s article, “18 highly respected type foundries that remain fiercely independent.” (I guess you could say I’m still surprised Hoefler is now, well, Monotype.)

Skoda and Citroen have new logos

It seems like nearly all of the major car manufacturers have introduced a new logo in the past couple of years, but here are two more. One’s best described as “an update,” while the other … goes a little farther.

Skoda, for those that don’t know, is a Czech company and part of the massive VW Group. Frankly, it shows:

Skoda’s 2022 Kodiaq, a thoroughly VW Group product.

For 2023, they’re introducing a push to separate themselves from VW a little, resisting the downmarket image. As is (now) normal with updated car company identities, there’s a concept:

Skoda’s Vision 7s concept.

It’s … not inspiring. Maybe the actual updated logo will turn the corner:

Skoda’s 2022 logo.

Solid. (Pardon the pun.) But seriously, even an avid car nut like me didn’t know that represents a winged arrow — and I’m not sure the new version helps. At least they get points for consistency:

Evolution of Skoda’s logo, 1895–2023.

Read more at Brand New’s “Czech this Out,” or Carscoops’ more optimistic take, “Thriving Skoda Brand Forging Its Own Path Within The VW Group.”

Then there’s Citroen. Even under the potentially-smothering corporate blanket that is Stellantis (there’s a name!), the pioneer of decades past still manages to actually thrive. First their new logo:

Citroen’s 2022 logo.

They’re not quite as consistent — the dual chevrons have varied a bit. This time, they’ve literally gone back to their roots, pulling the 1919/1921/1936 version out and dusting it off for modern use:

History of Citroen’s logos, 1919–2022.

Points to them for hinting at what’s to come, too:

Citroen’s 2022 logo, with just a slice of concept car showing.

…Which turns out to be something with, ahem, Oli bits:

Citroen’s Oli: the antithesis of a Skoda.

“Nothing moves us like Citroen,” they say. The Oli moves me, to a point where I truly wish Citroen was once again available in the ’States. Cool and radically innovative, without losing sight of something VW has truly lost: fun. Well done.

Read more on the logo: Motor1, “Citroen Unveils Updated Retro-Flavored Logo And New Slogan,” and Carscoops, “Citroen Unveils New Logo Inspired From Its Past, Teases New Concept.” Read more on the Oli at the excellent Autopian: “The Citroen Oli Concept Is An EV Made From Cardboard And Good Ideas.”

Updated, 19 October, 2022: Brand New adds to Citroen’s new logo story, with a slightly-less-than-enthusiastic take on the logo and has frankly unkind things to say about the new, custom typeface (custom typefaces are now de rigueur — a policy as much related to rights ownership than creativity, alas).

I really like the cursive in this Vimeo screenshot:

YouTube? What YouTube? Citroen posts to Vimeo. Ahh, the French.

BN also includes a number of extra photographs of the simply awesome Oli, too. Here are a couple, for your enjoyment:

Plug-and-Citroen.

Note the removable Bluetooth speakers (the black tubes with “+” and “-“) and, especially, the seats:

I love everything about this interior.

Check the rest, and BN’s take, here.

Apologies to both Skoda and Citroen for the lack of language-correct accents. WordPress needs a glyph function.