Nov 27, 2006

There's a great writeup at about legendary paperback publishing house Gold Medal Books. I've written, scrapped, and rewritten about five posts now trying to wrap my head around why there's nothing like Gold Medal around today. The truth is I can't figure it out. I just don't know why the gulf between works of artistic depth and works of mass appeal is so much wider now than it was then. There's no reason why that has to be the case.

But just when despair was about to set in, Speak Up pointed me to a great project from Penguin Books: My Penguin, which allows you to design your own covers for six classic books. Like Beck's The Information, which featured blank art and came with stickers allowing consumers to create their own cover, this is the kind of forward-thinking project that brings hope.

If the future means putting nearly everything in the hands of the consumer, come what may, then the best possible scenario is for that new model to come accompanied by a push for creativity, expression, and thought.

Nov 3, 2006

Working on this Milton Glaser/Paula Scher article ('s not quite done yet) has been more difficult than I thought it would be. That's not a bad thing, though, because it's raising a lot of interesting issues about matters that I've addressed on this weblog before, namely the similaritites between writing and design and the need for practitioners of one to be versed in the other.

During the interview with Paula, she stated repeatedly that "design is planning". In the case of a designer (as such) this means organizing graphic elements (type, color, shapes, etc) in such a way that they visually communicate a message in a given space and medium. Writing is no different. I have a given set of elements (in this case my words and the transcriptions) and I have to organize them in a way that says what I want to say, fits with the publication for which I'm writing, and speaks on some level to their target demographic. This, too, is design.

It ties right in to the "six word story" posts I put up a few weeks ago, an idea that was taken to sublime levels by Wired (thanks to Tony and Russ for the tip).

The more work I do the more I realize that I have essentially two jobs: translator and engineer. First I'm taking a body of thoughts and ideas and rendering them into something meaningful, and then I'm building a structure to contain them. A weakness in either half of that endeavor -- and over the years there have been plenty -- means the other half is inherently less potent than it could and should be. The x-factor in that process is creativity.
According to Tracy Hall's Amazing Inkblot Generator, "Neal Shaffer" looks like this:
Take from this what you far I've got nothing.