Beautifully Briefed 24.3: Bloomin’ Breadth

The end of March here in Middle Georgia means flowers aplenty, and usually with that, some photography — but I’ve not yet had a chance. (Stay tuned.) I have, however, been saving up links o’ interest: fonts, books, photography, and new(ish) car logos. Let’s go!

Kottke Meets 2024

Starting with one of the very few places that is still around from Foreword’s old days, the always-interesting Jason Kottke:

2024 marks Kottke.org’s 26th year on the ’net.

Great new looks for great content, with better Quick Links — the previews are ace — and incredibly-appreciated gift links to places like The New York Times and The Atlantic. If you haven’t been in a while, click and enjoy.

Fab Spring Type

With “a plethora of captivating new typefaces,” CreativeBoom celebrates spring with 11 new faces to tempt, inspire, and bring joy:

Arillatype.Studio brings us a thousand glyphs of greatness.

Zanco, with its bell-bottom style; Seabirds, inspired by 1930s book covers; Module, a “fluke side hustle;” and Graffeur, improvised from gaffer tape and glimpsed in this post’s header image, are all great. My far-and-away favorite, though, is At Briega, “inspired by the concept of hybridisation” and shown above.

See ’em all here.

Literary Three-Fer
M.C. Escher’s Lesser-Known Works
“The Drowned Cathedral,” a 1929 woodcut.

“Unique perspective” never does justice to someone whose name defines the term. See some never-before-seen images alongside old favorites in a new Escher book highlighted at Hyperallergic.

Multidimensional Libri

“Experimental books are flourishing, [a]nd the evidence is seen” in this Daily Heller from PRINT: a traveling exhibition on three-dimensional books, all published titles.

Oh, those Italians. Read on.

Book Design Snobbery
Hoover vs. Atwood — no joke.

“Don’t get held back from the simple pleasures of reading,” argues Natalie Fear at CreativeBloq, “not everything needs to be minimalist.” Justification for commercialism or a common-sense explanation for the bookshelves’ current look? You decide.

Photography Three-Fer
Winners of Monochromatic Minimalism
“Black Pearl” by Sascha Kohne. An honorable mention for the magazine, but a winner for me.

Some incredibly good stuff here — but perhaps more importantly, did you know of Black & White Minimalism Magazine? There’s no end to today’s continued diversification, methinks.

“Traveling through Costa da Morte, Galicia. 600m above sea level where the mountains separate the Cantabria sea from the Atlantic Ocean,” explains third-place winner Alexandre Caetano.
Aging Facades of France

“Shuttered blinds, peeling paint, and aging doors don’t usually indicate an invitation, but for French photographer Thibaut Derien, the fading facades of long-closed shops are well worth a stop,” This is Colossal says.

Sony Photography Awards: Architecture
The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) in Valencia, Spain: “Hemispheric,” by Eng Tong Tan, Malaysia.

ArchDaily‘s coverage of the annual Sony awards shortlist announcement was an insta-click.

New Bull: Now Flat. (And a BMW.)

Lamborghini practically defines flamboyant. So it’s worth a link when their logo gets less interesting:

Old logo, left, new, right.

Late at following the industry trend of flat-is-better, because, well, Volkswagen. (Okay, I undersell. Perhaps.) Read the lack of news at Motor11Motor1 also has a decent roundup of new car logos, from 2016-present, which underscores the “flatness” trend. or The Drive, where they manage to convey the brand’s use of the phrase “digital touchpoints.”

I don’t know whether this will make any more sense in a few or even many months — which is relevant because of BMW. Four years ago, one of the industry’s design leaders expressed strong this new style, and I didn’t get it. But it’s worn better than most, and superlatively on occasion — check out the logo’s use on the Vision Neue Klasse X:

Rather than a standalone, plastic part sitting on the paint, it’s etched into the finish. Man, I hope that makes it into production.

Neue Klasse: do like. Bull? No so much.

Update, 2 April: BrandNew, itself sporting a new look, has weighed in on the new Lambo style, calling it “not good.” (FYI, BrandNew is a subscription, quite possibly the best $20/year someone interested in design can spend.)

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    Motor1 also has a decent roundup of new car logos, from 2016-present, which underscores the “flatness” trend.

Beautifully Briefed 24.2: February Favorites

This time, book design times two, book cutouts, album covers, and a reflection on my 2023 photographs. It’s one of those Februaries, so let’s leap into it.

Jodi Hunt’s Great British Design
Screen print by Kate Gibb, lettering by Jodi Hunt, and photograph by Adaeze Okaro.

You might recognize the above book cover from my 2023 Favorite Book Covers post, a fantastic series of choices that speak to all colors while definitively saying, “Black.” It’s Nice That has a short post talking about Jodi Hunt, who designer that cover — and more.

Design by Jodi Hunt.

The screen printing is prominent here, too, and the interaction between that and title are, to borrow a Britishism, “ace.” And the below, with its slightly haunting image treatment (and that great text, lower left), also earns kudos:

Design by Jodi Hunt.

Great design, deservedly highlighted. See the other examples here.

The original Book Design
Ernest Lefébure, Embroidery and Lace: Their Manufacture and History from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Day (1888), with binding created by May Morris

Before there was book design, or even graphic design — that is, when books and pages were thought of as art instead of design — folks were still coming up with great book covers. The Grolier Club, “America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and enthusiasts,” has a wonderful exhibit of cover design . . . made up exclusively of antiques.

Lynd Ward, Gods’ Man: A Novel in Woodcuts, 1929, and Madman’s Drum: A Novel in Woodcuts, 1930.

One of the most memorable artworks […] is a sumptuous but comparatively delicate volume, a 1643 book of psalms created in London. Atmospheric exposure usually turns white silk-bound editions tan and brown, but this cover is a shiny cream color. The polychrome silk and gold metallic threads, which wind around one another to form a colorful floral pattern, maintain an eye-catching vibrancy. The only sign of the book’s age is the oxidized silver “stumpwork,” a type of raised embroidery that in this case resembles beading.

Elaine Velie, Hyperallergic

The quote above refers to the book in this month’s cover image, second from left, and is but one where what you see isn’t necessarily what you think it is — it’s more complex, more interesting, made with what the artist had available in the day. Great reminders, all, that book design has a much longer history than what we think of when we hear the term.

Check out that Hyperallergic article, another on This is Colossal, or, if you’re near NYC, go to the exhibit at the Grolier, 66th and Park. If, like me, you’re not able to visit in person, give them props for also posting the exhibit online.

Books Manufacture Realities

“Meticulous incisions and methodical folding allow scenes to arise from aged books and color swatches in Thomas Allen’s paper cutouts,” This is Colossal notes — but a picture is worth a thousand words:

Timber by Thomas Allen.

The vintage paperback work happened by complete accident. I was cutting into a pulp novel one afternoon with the intent of removing the illustration completely when I noticed that if I left some areas attached, folded the parts carefully, and looked at them from a single vantage point so that everything aligned, they created the illusion of 3D pop-ups. Everything snowballed from there.

— Thomas Allen, via This is Colossal
The three-hour cutout: Shipwreck, by Thomas Allen.

Here’s his desk — whoa:

Test cutouts in Allen’s studio, via This is Colossal.

The article is a must-read. Awesome stuff.

The Article’s Great — but the Headline is the Point.

“Virality over Creativity.” Few things summarize the last few years more — it’s always about getting eyeballs, not about truth or quality. It’s satisfying the algorithm. Because, of course, these days, media is social.

Real or AI?

POV, a new series of articles from It’s Nice That examines, in this case, creativity and AI in design for the music industry. “If an artist isn’t putting a piece of themselves and their experience into the work,” it asks, “why should anyone care?”

All valid questions, yes. But it’s the headline that provides another potential word of the year: virality.

The times we live in . . . .

Some of my Favorite 2023 Photographs

I’ve updated my photography page with my favorites of 2023, including these two:

Blue Against Blue Against Blue, 943 Ellis St.

The above, taken in Augusta, is architecture that doesn’t make me feel blue, while the below, taken on the main street in Sparta, does:

Bulb Moment, 12745 Broad St.

A couple of reflections: I didn’t get out as much as I did in 2022, and regret it, and have somehow pretty much eschewed both black-and-white and effects (film grain, light leaks, etc.), and kind of regret that, too. Both things to do differently in 2024.

That said, six years after investing in a different style of photography, I’m settling in — and looking forward to the future. I hope you are, too.

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 23.6: Welcome to Summer

This time, several items related to books and bookstores; two more — possibly the last two — from the automotive logo category; and PRINT Magazine’s 2023 roundup of great design.

Book Four-For
AI book covers? Here, now.

Creative Bloq, which I wasn’t familiar with, has a post up that’s only here because it’s the first I’ve seen of what is sure to be a trend: AI imagery on a book cover.

Image: Bloomsbury UK (Also: Where’s the body to go with the head?)

“Causing controversy,” they say, in that…:

[F]or a while now, with concerns over copyright and ethics plaguing text-to-image generators. Perhaps the most existential worry of all is the idea that AI could put human artists out of work – and while many still find the idea fanciful, we’re already seeing examples of AI-generated art being used commercially.

— Daniel Piper, Creative Bloq

The article itself has a hint of click-bait about it, what with Twitter users spotting a NY Times bestseller but complaining about the UK version of the cover design . . . but the larger question of AI coming for the book designers everywhere is valid.

Then again, AI imagery has the potential to reshape much of the creative landscape. Let’s hope — hope! — that it’s deployed ethically.

B&N’s Market Repositioning
Image: NYTimes (modified)

BookRiot asks whether Barnes & Noble’s new presentation as “a local bookstore” — something that’s part of the community in a way that Amazon can never be —is genuine, let alone successful. (We have a B&N here in Macon, which I visit infrequently, and which doesn’t feel “local.”)

Background: The BookRiot article (and the image) above ultimately stem, I believe, from a NY Times option piece from 2018.

Temples of Books

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of combining books and photography. Naturally, great photographs of great libraries strike just the right chord:

Cuypersbibliotheek, Amsterdam, Netherlands

As This is Colossal puts it, “Written by Marianne Julia StraussTemples of Books: Magnificent Libraries Around the World celebrates the stunning architecture and quietude associated with wandering the stacks.”

Phillips Exeter Academy Library, Exeter, New Hampshire

Positioning these spaces as intellectual havens, Temples of Books highlights their wide array of offerings, including botanic gardens, archival repositories, and of course, room to read. “As an institution that can curate knowledge, scrutinize the status quo, and encourage education, the library is more important today than ever,” a statement says. “This responsibility is only growing as the freedom to publish on all manner of channels increases.”

— Grace Ebert, This is Colossal

Instant wishlist item!

Take Action for Libraries
Image: everylibrary.org

Simple brilliance: a handy step-by-step guide on what to do if you don’t like a book at your local library.

Carmaker Logo Updates: Porsche and JLR
Jaguar Land Rover > JLR
No, that’s really it.

Formerly Jaguar Land Rover, but generally known in the industry as JLR, the British company1Technically, it’s an Indian company, as JLR is a subsidiary of the TATA conglomerate. decided to have a FedEx moment and rebranded. Alas, Paul Rand was unavailable, so there’s no brilliance in the execution. (We’ll absolutely leave whether walking away from Land Rover as a brand is a smart move for another, longer discussion.) Motor1 has the details.

Porsche > Almost all other mainstream car brands

There’s a new Porsche logo!

The new 2023 version of the Porsche logo. (Image: Porsche)

That’s right: it’s a very subtle change. But it’s a significant one, perhaps because it’s only the fifth in the company’s 75-year history:

All five Porsche badges. (Image: Porsche)

The biggest changes are the backgrounds and the prancing horse in the middle, which is completely redrawn. (And, yes, has more than a passing — heh — resemblance to Ferrari’s.)

Not-at-all-staged photograph by Porsche.

Wallpaper* has the best coverage I’ve seen.

Bonus: Motor1 has a roundup of every recent (2015+) automotive change in branding. Of course, I’ve covered most of ’em here, too.

Update: Nissan, already on the updated list above, might be up to something.

PRINT‘s Best of 2023

PRINT reminds us that not everything is digital these days — so much of the work still goes on paper or packaging — in their 2023 roundup of great stuff:

The 2023 PRINT Awards celebrated outstanding design in every shape and form, from the delicate texture and exquisite form of print to digital design that married technical skill with precise craftsmanship.

— PRINT Magazine

The best in show is a brilliant environmental design, the annual reports category is oddly satisfying (I didn’t know that Land O’ Lakes is a cooperative that owns Purina, for instance), the editorial category contains brilliance, and many, many more worthy of a design lover’s attention.

Sadly, their book design category is a bust. I like “The Every,” but pretty much any of my Best of 2022 picks run circles around it (and the other two choices):

The Every as photographed by PRINT.

But there are gems. I really like Bakemono, for instance, a winner in the fonts category and the best monospaced font I’ve seen:

Italian foundry Zetafonts brings us Bake Mono.

It’s a long article (they call it a 74-minute read!), but when you have a moment, grab a drink and an iPad and enjoy — hopefully as much as I did.

And that’s it! Settle into summer, and stay tuned for more soon.

Beautifully Briefed 23.1: 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.

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.