Tag Archives: books

Dream Man

Image via Nuvo

I love Neil Gaiman’s stories. They’re strange and surreal, dark and deep, a little twisted, always unpredictable. Wish I could watch him think and see the wheels turning in that head of his. It’s 51st birthday today. I thought I’d mark the day by posting some art and cover designs from his works.

Dream is a dark, enigmatic, and totally sexy character. Image via Comic Vine.

The first issue of Sandman

On my reading list rigjt now.

Brash, irreverent, ridiculous, hysterical -- Good Omens had me in stitches!

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged

Cooking with Pictures: Art in the Kitchen

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Caramel & Sea Salt Truffles by Katie Gamb

I just discovered the amazing They Draw and Cook which combines two of my favourite things; fantastic illustration and food. Their website features illustrated recipes that you can search within by ingredient, type of cuisine, illustration style or even country of origin.  Here are just a few that looked both incredibly tasty and wonderfully rendered. The Caramel and Sea Salt recipe submitted by Katie Gamb (above) is one of my favourites. The salty-sweet craze that is making the rounds in culinary circles is definitely a trend I can get behind. Katie Gamb’s work is beautiful and you can see more of her drawings on her website.

This Pizzelle recipe by Kristen Nohe makes me want to track down a pizzelle press. The directions look easy to follow and I love her drawing style and colour choices.  Nohe is a professional illustrator and textile designer from Maryland. I’ve just started following her blog and its great place to start if you want to see more of her work.

This handy Vegetable Stock recipe by Nate Padavick is also beautiful to look at and easy to follow. I think this illustration would also be lovely hanging on a wall in the kitchen.

This Linguini with Grilled Tomatoes and Feta Cheese recipe by Tomek Giovanis is a cooking comic with adorably drawn characters. Go! Go! Chicken!

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a whole recipe binder or recipe box full of these illustrations? If you’re feeling creative you can also submit your own illustrated recipes to the site.  I think I might just have to get my art supplies out and give it a try. They Draw & Cook also holds an annual competition where you can submit recipes that feature a specified ingredient. This year it was figs, so if you’re into figs there are no shortage of recipes that might strike your fancy.

Speaking of the intersection of art and cooking have you seen the new Ikea cookbook? It’s called Homemade is Best and each recipe is accompanied by a beautifully styled photograph by Carl Kleiner/ Agent Bauer of the ingredients and the finished product. The making of the book was apparently inspired by high fashion and Japanese minimalism.


Fina kanelbullar

What a lovely way to cook.  Unfortunately “Homemade is Best” is only available in Swedish, so I’ll have to develop my foreign language skills before I can attempt any of these recipes, but in the meantime the pictures are pretty enough just to look at.

Posted in Design, Food | Tagged , , ,

Play All Day

With March Break around the corner for many families, what better time to review Play All Day by the infinitely charming Taro Gomi.

Taro Gomi has been delighting children and adults for decades with his enchanting and inventive children’s literature and activity books.  One of Japan’s most prolific children’s authors, Gomi has published more than 400 books during his career.  Translated into many languages his books have been bringing big smiles to little faces all over the world.  If you’ve toilet trained a little one sometime over the last decade you’ve probably read “Everyone Poops”; if you’ve taken a road trip or a flight with a 4-7 year old hopefully you’ve done yourself the great favour of bringing along Doodles or Squiggles for hours of happy colouring.

Cardboard animals you pop out and assemble. Surprisingly durable little creatures!

Gomi’s latest, Play All Day: A Really Giant Book of Punch-Out-and-Play Games, Toys, Finger Puppets, Boxes, and More! just arrived in the mail and I couldn’t wait to get the niece and nephew (ages 4 and 6) over to explore its contents.  The back jacket says its perfect for the playful 3-103 crowd and I doubt that’s a misnomer.  Bottom line whether you’re planning a March Break get-away and need some activities for the travel portion of the trip or just want some imaginative quiet time for your children’s stay-cation, this is the book for you (or them)!

Unexpected heroes mouse and robot had no idea the day they were in for when they went exploring the quaint town of nurk-nurk. Pictured: Play City and two finger puppets from the book.

A few words of wisdom:

  • If you are using this on the plane or in the car, (or any space where kids are limited in their work and wiggle room) choose the activity in advance to ensure if can be done under those conditions and plan your ancilliary materials accordingly (glue stick, sticky tape, colouring pencils, etc).
  • If your kids will be cooped up for a bit, plan the games they can play with the creations they’re making.  My niece and nephew penned the puppet show and made some cool landscape backdrops – using the book’s Play City but also painted their own sceneries- in addition to the puppets they assembled from the book.
  • If you’re working with younger kids (3 -5 year olds), some projects will require lots of big person hands-on help, or will need to be amended to avoid frustrated meltdowns.  I’m looking at you Treasure Boxes.
  • If you’re entertaining babies as well as big kids as I did this fine afternoon, have the older kids make something from the book for the little ‘uns to keep everyone happy and involved in the fun.

Hope everyone enjoys a marvellous March break!

Taro Gomi
Play All Day
A Really Giant Book of Punch-Out-and-Play Games, Toys, Finger Puppets, Boxes, and More
Chronical Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA, 94107
May 2010
ISBN 978-0-8118-7121-1

Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

Judging Books by Covers

Books are meant to be read, and not just displayed for their good looks. But I’ve got to admit, when going book shopping, I look at the covers. Call me shallow, but after the author, a book’s cover design is the major factor in my purchase decisions.

In a roomful of books, the only way to not be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options is to breathe in the smell of paper and ink, go into a new age-y state of consciousness, and let the books call out to me. And how else can they call out except visually—using the language of colors, photography, typography, illustration, layout.


I like colors. I’m a kid like that. It’s no wonder then that I own a lot of children’s books, most of them acquired long after my official “childhood” has ended.

Cover illustration by Beth Parrocha-Doctolero

Photography and Illustration

I’m also a sucker for stunning images. Take this cover of George Orwell’s 1984. I was attracted by the dark circle nestled in the fuzzy blue one, against that expanse of white—up until I realized that it was an eye, and then it was ominously creepy, but still stunning.

That eye is creepy.


An awesome title would be a waste if it can’t be seen from a few meters away. The creative use of typography can capitalize on a word such as Swerve or Blindness, and make the book all the more grab-able.

Cover design by Adam Laszczuk

Here are a few other striking book covers I found around the web.

Image from the author's website

Cover design by Samantha Wall

Design by Lucy Ruth Cummins, photography by James Porto

A zombified portrait by William Beechley makes for a quirky, irreverent cover for a quirky, irreverent book. Cover design by Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd., and Doogie Horner.

Cover art by W.H. Chong

Cover design by Jon Gray

Sustainism is the new modernism

We need a new word for our new world and Sustainism is it, according to authors Michiel Schwarz and Joost Eiffers.  Sustainism is the New Modernism is part cultural manifesto, part design book.  Schwarz, a cultural theorist and innovator, and Eiffers a “symbol maker” and designer (the two are also childhood friends) have created a captivating book – in its written content but also in form and design – that’s hard not to get excited about.

Sustainism is relevant not just to the design community, but as a new cultural perspective

Positing that modernism (and postmodernism) ended with the 20th century, we are in the midst of a cultural paradigm shift that will allow us to effectively think about, engage with and act on the world’s big pursuits. Sustainism is this new ‘ism’ and Schwarz and Eiffers’ book offers the vocabulary and graphic symbolism to recognize, frame, and embrace what’s here and happening.  With quotes from world leaders, journalists, and authors who describe what Schwarz and Eiffers have named, they say “manifestations of Sustainism are emerging in all of culture:  from architecture and design to how we deal with food and our land, from media expressions and community to innovation and urban life.”

So What is Sustainism?

The Trefoil knot is the symbol of Sustainism, encompassing a world that is networked, digital and localist

Schwarz and Eiffers assert that Sustainism is a way of thinking about the world that is responsible – ethically, socially and environmentally so; that it shifts the global vs local discussion to understand it as “all locals are globally connected” – we should no longer talk of ‘the global village’ but of a ‘globe of villages’.  Sustainism also favours open source information and a networked, collaborative approach to innovation, technological and otherwise.

Sustainist symbols. Credit: Michiel Schwarz, Joost Eiffers, Sustainism is the New Modernism, 2010

Sustainism is the New Modernism is hard to put down between its noble ideas, snappy graphics, bold typefaces, and historical quotes.  Put it on your coffee table or give it as a gift to be sure to start an interesting dialogue.

Order the book via amazon.com or Indiebound independent booksellers.

Michiel Schwarz and Joost Eiffers
Sustainism is the New Modernism
A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era
D.A.P/ Distributed Art Publishers Inc.
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY, 10013
December 2010
ISBN 978-1-935202-22-6