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, 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.

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.

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.

Beautifully Briefed, Early July 2022: The Autopian, The Ford Heritage Vault, and an Eames Follow-Up

Car site The Autopian scores with book design, Ford posts old marketing material gold mine, and more on the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity in this edition of Beautifully Briefed.

Autopian suggests book design

The Autopian, founded by a couple of former Jalopnik writers, is a new automotive gem: in these days of more-of-the-sameism sites trying to make money of others’ ideas, the Autopian has a retro style and interesting, original content.

Including this short post from their Cold Start column:

Sometimes you may encounter an old car ad and realize that the design of it could lend itself very well to something completely different. In this case, this 1958 Ford Zodiac ad, with its rich, saturated colors, striking dress on the model, and evocative name with understated typography just feel like something you’d see on modern book cover design.

Jason Torchinsky, Autopian Founder

The ad:

A 1958 Ford Zodiac (European)

His book design idea “realized”:

Jason’s book cover mock-up. Love the author name.

Nice.

The Ford Heritage Vault

Ford has taken the unusual step of posting a good chunk of their old — 1903 to 2003, their first 100 years — marketing materials online: “promotional materials, photographs, and all kinds of other historical goodies,” according to CarScoops.

“Our archives were established 70 years ago, and for the first time, we’re opening the vault for the public to see. This is just a first step for all that will come in the future,” says Ted Ryan, Ford archive and heritage brand manager.

Here’s a personal favorite: the 1965 full line brochure, showing the cars set in architectural drawings — presumably, matching the car to the house:

The 1965 Ford Family of Cars brochure

Fancy a drive down memory lane?

More from the Eames Institute

We discussed the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity back in April, but Metropolis magazine has published an extensive article covering a visit to the Institute.

Modernism has largely been diluted from a series of ideas rooted in social change to one of just style—Instagram moments, if you will. The Eameses insisted that they did not have a style or even an “ism.” […] Modernism was an idea, not a style. With the establishment of the Eames Institute, I hope Charles and Ray will be remembered most of all for their ideas and processes.

Kenneth Caldwell, Metropolis
An exhibit at the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity.

With our ongoing struggle to use materials more efficiently, many of the Eameses’ ideas and ideals need to be taken for the solutions that they are: style with incredible substance.

Read the whole article at Metropolis. (Via ArchDaily.)

Updated Galleries: Macon Downtown x3, Automotive

FedEx pulled up around 8:30 this morning and dropped off a new lens. (It wasn’t due ’til Tuesday — bonus!) Given that it was an absolutely beautiful morning, I shelved my plans for the day, picked up the camera, and headed downtown.

Verdict? It’s so a keeper. See for yourself:

Catholic Cross, St. Joseph’s, Macon
Purple Hydrangea, St. Joseph’s, Macon
(Funeral) Chapel, New St., Macon
552 New St. (Brick Detail), Macon
Public Art (Detail #1), D T Walton Sr Way, Macon
Tree and City Auditorium, Macon

Wound up with sixty new items posted. However, the downtown Macon gallery was getting almost too big — confusing, even — so has been separated into three parts:

One more thing: Four photographs have been added to the Automotive gallery, including this rare Mitsubishi Lancer Evo:

Macon Lancer Evo (Wheel Detail)

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Beautifully Briefed, May 2022: Two on Type, Two on Photography, and Kottke

This month’s favorites cover a delightful new extension of the typeface DaVinci, Google’s updated mega-font, Noto, photographs of a desert aircraft boneyard from above, and mega-photographs of the Milky Way.

Before we get there, however, I wanted to wish Jason Kottke — whose 24 years of web sleuthing has been a source for items here on Foreword dating back to its original iteration in the ’90s — good luck on his sabbatical:

“I need some space to think and live and have generative conversations and do things, and then I’ll make something, but I can’t tell you what it is just yet.”1Alexandra Bell, NYT That’s the sort of energy I need to tap into for a few months.

Hear, hear.

The Beautiful DaVinci Italic

It’s Nice That points us to a new, extended version of the font DaVinci, done for Sydney’s Biennale:

“When you do this sort of type exercise — based on printed letters — it gives a very organic shape and form, in opposition to the very metallic sharp shape from type materials.” Furthering this organic look by pushing the fluidity curse at its maximum, Virgile ended with a design “which is very historical, yet with a contemporary twist.” 

Just look at those glyphs!

Makes you want to find an excuse to use it. But that’s not all: Flores is an incredibly diverse artist whose work both challenges and inspires. See more.

Google’s Noto

Called “A Typeface for the World,” Google’s Noto defines “megaproject.”

Noto is a collection of high-quality fonts with multiple weights and widths in sans, serif, mono, and other styles. The Noto fonts are perfect for harmonious, aesthetic, and typographically correct global communication, in more than 1,000 languages and over 150 writing systems. 

Google’s Noto font collection.

According to Google,

“Noto” means “I write, I mark, I note” in Latin. The name is also short for “no tofu”, as the project aims to eliminate ‘tofu’: blank rectangles shown when no font is available for your text.

While the font itself has been around for a few years — 2013 seems like yesterday in so many ways! — it’s updated regularly, cover 150 out of the 154 scripts defined in Unicode, and deserves attention from every web designer and type nut. Read more at Google or Wikipedia. (Via Kottke.)

Aircraft Boneyard, From an Aircraft

This is Colossal introduces us to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, whose desert conditions are ideal for storing — and scrapping — aircraft:

What happens when the military’s aircraft are end-of-lifed

The photographs are by Bernhard Lang — whom Colossal has highlighted before — and who has an incredible talent for finding patterns from above. See many more at his website.

Milky Way Photography

We don’t get many opportunities here in Middle Georgia, but in other, less populous (read: less light-polluted) places in the world, the Milky Way shines forth from the heavens:

Mountain, redefined.

The Guardian points us to the 2022 Milky Way Photographer of the Year, and many just wow:

Take cover . . . in awe!

Check ’em all out, be inspired to take one of your own, or simply be reminded just how big this system we’re a part of is. Enjoy.

Gallery Update: The Columbus Museum

As I mentioned in the last entry, Gerald and I were in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday, where our primary photographic mission was The Columbus Museum — specifically, its Olmsted Garden.

ArchDaily is to blame here; they pointed me to the following:

Celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., known as “the father of landscape architecture”, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has created an ever-growing digital guide of Olmsted’s most notable works.

I immediately looked up what was near me, and lo and behold…. (Full disclosure: the garden is actually by Bradley Olmsted, one of Fredrick’s sons.)

Of course, the building’s interesting, too, so there’s a good mix of architecture, gardens, architecture from the garden, and — you guessed it — garden architecture:

The Columbus Museum (B&W #1)
Urn, Columns and Bricks, The Columbus Museum
Crawford’s Kindred (B&W detail), The Columbus Museum
Olmsted Garden (Flower #3), The Columbus Museum
Old Pool House (B&W), Olmsted Garden, The Columbus Museum

I enjoyed the visit, and as a result of that visit, added 32 new photographs to the Columbus gallery. (They’re grouped together: “Columbus Museum – Mar22.”) Peruse anytime; purchase if you’d like. Thank you!

Beautifully Briefed, Early April 2022: Eames Institute, Loony Backgrounds, and … Condor!

Three completely unrelated items for you this time, ranging from the serious and interesting through the loony and interesting to something of a whole different stripe.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity

Update 2, 25 Apr: Brand New discusses this logo, with the usual catchy title: The Fast and the Curious: Counterspace Drift

Eames Institute’s “curious” logo variations, discussed at Brand New

Update, 8 Apr: It’s Nice That has more: The Eames Institute launches with a curious, “Eamesian” identity, and a logo that observes

Original post: Practically everyone has heard of an Eames Chair:

A particularly awesome example of an Eames Chair (and ottoman).

What you might not realize is that the legacy Charles and Ray Eames left behind enriches our lives to this day. It’s a shame, then, that while their house is a mid-century masterpiece (and museum), much of their lives have remained behind closed doors.

For almost three decades, a barn-like building in Petaluma, California, contained remnants of one of the most iconic design legacies of the twentieth century. […] We created the Eames Institute because we want you to examine the archive of what you know—the collection of your experiences, understanding, memories, and questions—and connect to the provocations that call to you. We want you to tap into that same fount of relentless curiosity, and its power to shift your perception and open you to innovations and discoveries.

Now, however, there’s the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity. Awesome name aside, it introduces us to the more personal side of one of design’s strongest partnerships.

Items from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.
Drawings from the Charles and Ray Eames Institute.

The website requires some interesting scrolling to get where you need, but the results are more than worth the time — and is one that earns (Eames?) its suggestion of satisfying infinite curiosity. Explore and enjoy. (Hat tip: ArchDaily, The Newly Launched Eames Institute Brings Insight into the Eameses’ Design Methodology.)

Loony Toons Backgrounds

Design You Trust: “Looney Tunes Without Looney Tunes: Existential, Surreal, And Creepy Backgrounds.” The post sends readers to an Instagram account, which I’m not going to link to, but the images themselves are fascinating:

Crossed wires, anyone?
Imagine who might run up to — or even get pushed off of — this cliff.
A nice, innocent factory. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Next time I treat myself to a Loony break, I’m going to make sure to spend some time looking beyond the action and appreciate the backgrounds. Nice.

Condor Airlines Rebrands

Most of you have probably never heard of Condor Airlines; they’re mainly a European thing, a “leisure” airline associated with Thomas Cook, formerly owned and run by Lufthansa. (Here’s some history.)

It doesn’t particularly matter. What does is the bravado exhibited by management. Before, a typical airline logo — dare I say, typically Germanic:

Condor’s OLD livery.

Then someone said yelled, “HEY. WE DO VACATIONS. LIKE BEACH TOWELS. LET’S DO STRIPES.” The result:

Condor’s NEW livery. Wow.

Armin Vit:

The new livery has zero fucks to give and just plasters every plane with thick vertical stripes that go against pretty much every single assumed tenet of what makes a good livery. It doesn’t look speedy, it doesn’t look nimble, it requires a lot of paint, and by all other standards it is just plain ugly and I love it.

Read more or see images at Condor, see the Brand New post, or even hear from the armchair pilots at Airliners.net. Now: anyone got a beach?

Updated Gallery: Sarasota – Ringling Museum

The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida has been a place I’ve been taking photographs since I lived in the area, almost twenty years ago now — and a place where I continue to enjoy taking photographs whenever possible.

The grounds have these amazing banyan trees, with root systems larger than many houses:

Banyan (black and white, detail)

They’ve expanded over the years, adding buildings, a new entrance, and additions. This is the Chao Center for Asian Art:

Chao Center’s Asian Art Siding #3 (Detail)

The old Ca d’Zan gate is the new main entrance:

Ca d’Zan Lion

And, of course, the whole compound is right on Sarasota Bay:

Ringling’s Bayfront

Take a virtual stroll through the Ringling grounds with 24 new photographs, along with many more over the years, and a few extra photographs from Sarasota proper. Enjoy.

Architecture in Music

New Zealand-based photographer Charles Brooks, who happens to have spent years as a professional cellist, brings us some astonishing inside-the-instrument shots, including this one:

1780 Lockey Hill Cello. © Charles Brooks

The Colossal post, where I ran across this, is definitely worth a read. But let me just add one thing: He’s using an L-mount (yes!) Laowa probe lens, an insightful choice driven by curiosity. Well done, sir.

His levitation shots are killer, too. And there’s behind-the-scenes (literally) stuff on his blog. Oh, and his logo is fantastic.

Score! (Sorry — had to say it.) Go visit.

Beautifully Briefed, December 2021: Holiday Edition

Beautifully Briefed, December 2021

It’s the yearly wrap-up and the holiday season! Recap and Rejoice!

Hermès Does Windows

“Journey of a Lifetime” is this year’s window display for Hermès — yes, Hermès should have an accent, but I can’t seem to summon it today fixed! — so let’s go with a picture instead:

Hermes window display

All in paper. No, let me repeat that: it’s all paper. (Well, perhaps some glue.) From artists Zim and Zou. Here’s another, one of their earlier works:

Zim and Zou, previously

Read more at This is Colossal about the window and the church. Nice.

Yule Ogg

While we’re on the subject of the holidays, check this out:

Yule Ogg

That’s right, it’s one of those four-hour Yule log videos — but with a twist. Those are wooden type pieces going up the flame. Check it out, along with the backstory, at It’s Nice That.

Top Architectural Photography Projects

Closing out, we start the year’s “best of” round-ups, this one Dezeen’s top 10 architectural photography projects of 2021:

Soviet (Asia) Photography

Above, Soviet architecture, central Asia, by Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego. Below, Structure Photography by Nikola Olic:

"Poetic" Architecture Photography

The latter is called “poetic,” a description I’d completely agree with. The Mother Road, USA, by Hayley Eichenbaum (previously mentioned) is there, too. Enjoy.

That’s it until after the holiday. Around the first, stay tuned for my favorite book designs of 2021 and more. Take care!

Beautifully Briefed, November 2021: Four on Photography

BB Nov 2021

Four different, yet valuable, interesting, and informative links to photography items heading into this Thanksgiving weekend.

Architectural Photography Awards

Starting with ArchDaily: The Architectural Photography Awards 2021 Announces its Shortlist. Some great stuff here:

ArchDaily 1
ArchDaily 2
ArchDaily 3
ArchDaily 4
ArchDaily 5

All simple, yet so much more. Well done.

Natural Landscape Photography Awards

Next, the Natural Landscape Photography Awards. Many here to choose from, as well, but a couple of faves:

Nature Award 1
Nature Award 2
Landscape Photography Best of How-to

So, we all ask ourselves, how to you get from the everyday stuff to the best-of-the-best? DPReview has answers, with Erez Marom: On Originality in Landscape Photography.

It has been, and continues to be, a rough time for a nature photographer who makes a living shooting around the world. This kind of time period sometimes makes we artists think about our life missions and convictions, and delve deeper into our beliefs and the way we view our art and what makes it worthwhile. While some people don’t see photography as art, I definitely do, and for that reason I feel that a discussion is needed about what makes photography an art form rather than technical labor.

Some examples:

On Originality 1
On Originality 2

Read the whole essay. Excellent stuff.

Route 66 Photography

Lastly, some art from Dezeen: Hayley Eichenbaum captures the “punchy absurdity” of Route 66 roadside architecture:

Dezeen 1
Dezeen 2

Enjoy all four — and enjoy the turkey weekend! Happy (Photography) Thanksgiving.