Tag Archives: books & objects

World of World, softcover edition

WOW softcover

Recently I created a softcover edition of my World of World book. Check out this page for details and price.

Posted in 2014, latest | Also tagged , |

Descriptious #1

Descriptious #1

Descriptious #1: softcover, 20 pp, $25


I recently designed a book for my friend, the writer Ruth Coppens. It’s a book of quotations, of an unusual kind, and it is best described in her own words:

“One of author Elmore Leonard’s rules for good writing was: ‘Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.’ By this he almost certainly meant descriptions, especially of place. Leonard was a fine writer, but this rule ignores a simple fact: some of us love the parts that other people skip… I collect writers who are good at this kind of thing; they can be found in most genres, but what they all have in common is an ability to unite specificity of observation with a strong emotional valence. Here I am sharing some of my favorites among what are loosely termed nature writers.”

She includes in this book extracts by well-known writers like Terry Tempest Williams, Willa Cather, and Aldo Leopold, but for me its real value was in introducing me to obscure or somewhat forgotten writers like Rumer Godden, Henry Beston, and Edward Thomas. The accompanying images are photographs she has collected that resonate with particular descriptions. The perfect gift for a compulsive reader. descriptious-spread

Posted in 2014, books, latest | Also tagged , , |

L.A. Art Book Fair

LA Art Book FairThe Los Angeles Art Book Fair just opened; at left is a snapshot of the ICI Press booth. I’ve worked on about half the projects in this view.

It’s free to the public this weekend (Feb. 1-2), a book lover’s dream world.

Posted in 2014, latest | Also tagged |

e-book meets artist’s book


Test booklet produced with Bookleteer software.

One of my purposes with this blog is to promote DIY-oriented websites that enable people to create and acquire art at less-than-astronomical prices and without the intimidation factor or the need for advanced skill sets. I recently learned about a nifty website that solves several of the main obstacles to creating small artist’s books. Bookleteer.com technically belongs to the larger world of print-on-demand publishing populated by the likes of SharedInk, Shutterfly, Blurb, and Lulu, but it takes a quite different tack from those sites. The general approach of POD sites is to offer book templates into which users plug their own text and JPEG images, after which they can order commercially printed, perfect-bound books on nice paper stock for a (comparatively) reasonable price.


Bookleteer booklet in process of construction.

Bookleteer also offers templates, but their goal is to make it easy for someone with just an ordinary inkjet printer and a bunch of digital images to print out and assemble a booklet at home. Essentially, they are simplifying the production of hand-made books rather than helping people gain access to commercial printing.1 Anyone who has ever tried to create a hand-made book knows that it can be surprisingly tricky to get the pages organized in the right way, especially with double-sided printing. For example, in a 4-page booklet bound with a staple down the middle, it is not immediately obvious that pages 1 and 4 would actually be on the same piece of paper. Bookleteer has come up with a way of streamlining this production process for small books. Their templates are set up to create finished books of about 4.25 x 5.5 inches, or one-quarter of a standard 8.5×11-inch piece of paper.2 Each printed sheet has 4 pages on it—half of which are upside down with respect to the other half—and the sheets are folded over to create double-sided pages in the finished book. Particularly clever is their method for assembling the finished book: instead of the traditional staples or sewing, pages are held firmly together with a self-locking variation on tabs-and-slits (as shown in the image at right).

To create a book using the Bookleteer method, you upload your images and text to their website, just as with other POD sites.3 When you are done, they create a print-ready PDF for you to download to your home computer. You then print it out and follow their very straightforward folding, cutting, and insertion instructions to create the final booklet. You can make a complete, finished, self-covered book this way—like my 8-page test booklet shown at the top of this post—or you can print only the inside of the book and add your own cover afterwards. The adventurous can print a book with some blank or half-finished pages and add hand-drawn or collaged elements to make each book unique. The maximum size of a book you can create using the Bookleteer software is 40 pages, including the covers, and you have a choice of either portrait or landscape orientation. Theoretically, you could make even bigger books using their downloaded templates once you figured out the page-order logic necessary to create your own printable PDFs, but my guess is that 40 pages is probably the practical limit for books held together by this slit-binding method.

Bookleteer is a project of a pair of designers based in the United Kingdom, Alice Angus and Giles Lane, who work under the name Proboscis. They have an interesting practice that extends well beyond book design and publishing, reaching out to socially engaged practitioners in a lot of different fields, including the sciences. But they have been working with DIY publishing and the idea of shareable media for quite a long time, expressing a commitment to “playful hybrid digital/material publications combining the tactile pleasures of tangible objects with the ease of sharing via digital media.” Indeed, once you have created a booklet on Bookleteer, you have the option of sharing it with others by way of the Bookleteer ‘library’. One of their latest projects is a publishing wing called the Periodical, in which they attempt to “re-imagine publishing as public authoring.”

I’ve been designing and producting both hand-made and commercially printed books for a couple of decades now, and I’ve never come across a simpler method for creating and sharing small books than what the Bookleteer folks have come up with. Check it out: hand-made books make excellent holiday presents.



1. Bookleteer does also offer professional printing of books created with its software, but the minimum order is 25 books.

2. Bookleteer also has templates for standard European paper sizes.

3. You can also download their templates to create your book in InDesign, after which you upload individual pages back to the Bookleteer website to produce the final printable PDF.


Posted in 2013, latest | Also tagged , , , , , |

Benjamin’s Blind Spot

Benjamin’s Blind Spot, trade edition:$20.00   BUY NOW

Benjamin’s Blind Spot, commemorative edition: $35.00    BUY NOW

I designed this little gem of a book in 2001 for the Institute of Cultural Inquiry in Los Angeles. Its full title, Benjamin’s Blind Spot: Walter Benjamin and the Premature Death of Aura & ICI Field Notes 5: The Manual of Lost Ideas, gives a good sense of the unusual nature of the project. The first part of the title refers to the inclusion of a group of essays that use Walter Benjamin’s landmark 1937 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” as a springboard to apply Benjamin’s insights to a diverse selection of topics. The second part refers to the fact that throughout the book, the margins are used to present excerpts from a curious manuscript known as The Manual of Lost Ideas, together with a commentary on the Manual by Arturo Ott.

The Commemorative Edition includes a separate sheet of full-color artist’s stamps showing a selection of  images from the Manual of Lost Ideas.

What the critics said:
“It’s been months since I’ve been this excited about a book that’s scholarly in nature. Benjamin’s Blind Spot is two books in one: a collection of essays by various authors who consider Benjamin’s treatment of aura; and reproductions of the Manual of Lost Ideas, an odd compendium of art, text, and objects…. The impressive use of typography, editing and design made me think about aura as I read the book. And Arturo Ott’s descriptions of the contents of the Manual are eerie and provocative.” [Joanne Diaz, amazon.com]

“[a] concise and rewarding collection of essays…. cleverly provokes far-reaching reconsideration of the lingering presence of blind spots and aura in today’s art and culture.” [Angela Glass, Afterimage, 2002]

The type design for this book uses my 1999 Checco font.

Posted in 2011, books | Also tagged , , |