Beautifully Briefed 23.8: Summer Stew

The August heat is met with some refreshingly cool items for you this time: beloved movies reimagined as vintage paperbacks, graphic design on the Internet Archive, and winners of the 2023 iPhone photography awards. Plus, a bit on social media that hopefully won’t leave an aftertaste. Let’s dig in.

“Good Movies as Old Books”

This is Colossal points us to an extraordinary personal project by graphic designer Matt Stevens: classic, acclaimed movies visualized as vintage paperback books. Everything about these spells “win.”

From the aged look, illustration choices, and director-as-author to the logo and occasional price, these are all … perfect.

Volume One is 100 titles, and while that book is sold out, prints are available at his website. The items in Volume Two, due this month, are guaranteed to be awesome.

Graphic Design on the Internet Archive
Emigre #20 – Expatriates. Courtesy of the Internet Archive via archive.digital.

Another treasure via Jason Kottke:

archives.design is a labor of love site run by Valery Marier where she collects graphic design related materials that are available to freely borrow, stream, or download from the Internet Archive. I’ve only scratched the surface in poking around, but so far I’ve found Olivetti brochures, a collection of theater programs from the 19th and early 20th centuries, several Apple thingsThe Vignelli Canona specimen book of wood type from the 1880s, and many issues of Emigre. What a resource!

Jason Kottke, kottke.org
An advertising brochure for the Olivetti Tetractys, circa 1956.

Some of these are fantastic — set aside some time to explore and enjoy.

2023 iPhone Photography Winners

I don’t always link to these contests — it often seems like the publicity (and rights!) are all about the folks holding the contest rather than the people entering them — but I often look, and am always impressed with the quality coming out of a “simple” iPhone.

Long Nguyen, France – 1st Place, Travel – “Last Night before Xmas”
Scott Galloway, United States – 1st Place, Nature – “Wonder Wheel”

And while both of the above are (relatively) recent phones, in the latter case showing the macro capabilities of an iPhone 12 Pro Max, even older phones can highlight the talent of the person using it:

Derek Hager, United States – 3rd Place, Photographer of the Year – “Tucson Morning”

Shot on a 2017 iPhone X. Nice.

See all the winners, for 2023 and years past, at IPPAwards.com. (Via PetaPixel.)

A Moment Regarding Social Media

I’m not going to spend much time on this; I eschewed pretty much all forms of social media years ago now, and don’t regret it. That said, I do keep up with social media in the meta sense (a word that’s been stolen, as far as I’m concerned, by — wait for it — a social media company), and have noted the pain and concern associated with the implosion of Twitter.

While this conversation started with Nick Heer and the always-excellent Pixel Envy, it’s obviously evolved as the year has seen one extraordinary cage fight event after another.

Threads on Apple’s App Store, via the BBC.

For the past decade, It’s been all but required for serious brands to maintain a social media presence […] yet instead of scrambling to claim digital real estate across all these newly emerging platforms, some companies are choosing to be more judicious about which platforms they choose to join. In some cases, they’re learning from brands who jumped the social media ship years ago.

Chris Stokel-Walker, BBC

The quote above, from the BBC, attempts to answer the question, “Why your favourite brand may be taking a social media break.” Short answer: it’s complicated. I’d argue there’s an even shorter answer — it’s smart! — but for people and brands that aren’t yet established, social media is often key to discoverability.

This may be especially true for artists, designers, photographers, and others in the self- and small-business-employed creative field. Indeed, let’s go to a great source for those in the arena, Creative Boom, who recently spent a minute asking, “Creatives are saying social media is over… so what next?”

Like any new craze, it was fun for a while. But there’s certainly nothing new about it any more. Facebook’s now been around for almost two decades. Twitter’s 17 years old. Even Instagram has reached its teens. And while many of us joined these platforms during their fun, “anything goes” eras, when everything was about the users, now it’s all about the algorithms and their use to make venture capitalists vast amounts of money.

Tom May, Creative Boom

While I agree that social media is a mess and has been for a while, I’m absolutely not going to tell you to give it up — only to remind you that I have given it up and continue to be completely okay with the decision.

I do want to ask you, though, to choose wisely:

Facebook’s “Threads (an Instagram app),” their answer to the Twitter/X debacle, as shown via Apple’s iOS App Store privacy report.
Tapbot’s “Ivory,” available in Apple’s iOS App Store and showing that app’s privacy report, for the Mastodon social platform.

Enough said. Turn off the computer, go forth, and enjoy a beautiful summer’s day.

Beautifully Briefed, July/August 2021

It’s been a busy summer here in Middle Georgia; after regular updates to Foreword for several months, things have slowed down a little. Thus, some good items have piled up.

Starting with a book design I really like:

NPR describes it as, “A Monk And A Robot Meet In A Forest … And Talk Philosophy.” Interesting description, interesting design. I’d pick it up off a shelf.

Speaking of bookshelves, a notable quote from Andy Hunter, of Bookshop.org:

Take a look at this graph. The blue is Amazon’s share of book sales in the past six years. The orange is where we are headed if their average growth rate (8%) continues. If nothing slows their momentum, Amazon will control nearly 80% of the consumer book market by the end of 2025. Every single book lover should worry. After we’re done worrying, we must change the way we buy books.

The graph:

I’m not a fan of Medium — Andy, please choose a better place to post your very valid point — but it’s worth reading. Then change your book-buying habits if possible!

Also from the book category, check out Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s latest book of built work 2009-2019. Tons of great work here, but one example might tower over the others:

Great photography, too. designboom has more, in their famous all-lower-case style.

While we’re talking about great photographs of New York City, check this out — complete with 1WTC in the background:

A winner from the recent 2021 iPhone Photography Awards, which I enjoyed … until I found out it’s just another contest, complete with entry fee. (Hey, at least they don’t reassign copyright.)

While we’re at the intersection of photography and architecture, these shots of modern churches across Europe are stunningly beautiful:

From the nearby intersection of photography and illustration:

The whole series is great, great stuff, and has very deservingly been used by the likes of Apple, The New Yorker, and more. Read on.

Last and almost certainly least, I’ve updated the Musella gallery:

Check that gallery out, look at the Middle Georgia collection, or peruse all my Georgia photographs on the road to purchasing a print or getting in touch to let me know you’d like to use something in a book or design project. Thank you.

On to September!