“We know that attention acts as a lightning rod. Merely by concentrating on something one causes endless analogies to collect around it, even penetrate the boundaries of the subject itself: an experience that we call coincidence, serendipity – the terminology is extensive. My experience has been that in these circular travels what is really significant surrounds a central absence, an absence that, paradoxically, is the text being written or to be written.”  Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds"

I did an event at Housing Works last night. Afterwards, Amanda Bullock, their excellent Director of Programming took me behind the counter to show me their wares...and it turns out they had this here gorgeous edition of Hopscotch. Which I bought. (Reader, it was only forty dollars—The place is full of bargains. The jacket, if you didn't know, was designed by the amazing George Salter). And, as a strange side-note, it turns out, the book was priced by Sam Sacks, whose writing I love, and who I've had the honor of playing soccer with several times.

Anyway. Last post on Cortázar for a while.


Still Hopscotching

A small slideshow at the NYTimes on various versions of book covers- featuring a couple of my (self)-rejected comps for Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch. (Some random other covers of mine for the same title- and its partner, Blow-up, below... and at least 20 more of these will be shown, and explained, in a chapter of  COVER, coming April 8th) Thank you John Williams!


Spring 2014



(I finally found some free time today—can you tell?)

Anyway, just saw this online; and I had forgotten that I had played a role in it.

Thanks to Yale University Press and The Josef Albers Foundation...

Josef Albers' Interaction of Color has been made into an iPad app. 

All the content from the original books including the color studies, plus interactive exercises, and interviews with artists and designers about their own work with color. Being able to perform the exercises as Albers intended (and seeing the colors in RGB) is pretty neat, I must say. Can't wait to get a copy.

It will be (Yale tells us) available soon at the app store. Stay tuned.


Anxiety of Influence

(Fewer words, more pictures: my ass)

Just to let you know: in honor of Timo Andres' new album (which is astounding) Nonesuch Records is hosting Timo and me and The New Yorker's Leo Carey at Housing Works bookstore for a conversation on music, design, writing and whatever else. Timo will play some works from the new record as well—which is reason enough to attend.

More info here


P.D. Classics

I just realized I haven't been posting my work here that much lately- and this was sorta the reason for starting the blog in the first place. The blog was originally meant as a venue for showing the covers I've been working on. This lack of posted design work will be remedied—starting with these covers for classics pictured below. The series will be explained in detail here at some later date (this reticence is a symptom of my new "fewer words more pictures" policy. Here are few of the classics (I've designed about fifty in the series thus far). Sorry the gradients don't reproduce so well online...more new cover designs coming soon!


Shostakovich & Kafka

So just after having posted...

and after being prompted by a question from someone an hour ago on Facebook...

As an afterthought: The music:

Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, aka (in my estimation) the greatest (and perhaps saddest) musician of the Twentieth Century, was asked in 1934 to compose a piece for a “Leningrad light jazz ensemble” (this was also the year he wrote his lyrical D minor cello sonata, if you are curious to hear what a more typical idiom for DSCH was). Evidently (according to his publisher) Shostakovich was “delighted” by this commission and subsequently wrote not one, but two “Jazz Suites,” a section from which is the soundtrack for the Kafka animation linked to above.

The composer of such light fare as the Leningrad symphony, the Babi Yar symphony, the opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District and the great 8th (C minor) War quartet, fabricated these delightful little suites from popular dance forms of the time: Klezmers, Blues, Foxtrots, Waltzes, Polkas, etc. & the instrumentation is brilliant. If you thought that a Stalin-era Soviet composer wouldn’t be a fan of the “electric Hawaiian guitar,” you’d be dead wrong (there’s also a fiendishly difficult xylophone part).

Anyway, I had these pieces stuck in my inner ear throughout my last re-reading of Kafka’s Amerika, and the foxtrot in particular wouldn’t leave me alone during the section involving the “Nature Theater of Oklahoma.” It’s that Eastern-European-does-New-World-and-gets-it-deliciously-wrong kinda deal (Kafka has, in this book, not only the Statue of Liberty holding aloft a sword, but mentions a bridge linking New York and, erm, Boston.) A while ago I made this image (below) in hommage to the strangeness (and strange aptness) of Kafka's vision...

Another thing: if you haven't heard Shostakovich's arrangement of Tea for Two, well

PSS. Another strange fact: Kubrick used this Jazz Suite in the soundtrack for Eyes Wide Shut— which, also, come to think of it, is an amalgam of old world and new, based as it is on the 1926 play by Schnitzler…


Blink 130

Happy 130th birthday, Franz.

Here's a little card we made. 

Animated by Pablo Delcán. Music by Dmitri Shostakovich. Typeface by Julia Sysmäläinen. As you can see, Schocken is republishing the various volumes of Kafka's letters. (For Aphorisms, sadly, if you want the series designed version you'll still have to go abroad.)