Hot Off the Press

We launched the latest issue of Coupe, #22, the International Design Annual a few weeks back. Just now recovering.

You can check out more launch party pics on Facebook.


Questions, Questions.

Update (June 30, 2011): This cover was just nominated for an ADCC award for its cover. We’ll see if it wins silver or gold in November.

Over the past decade I’ve designed jackets and covers for literary pixie and maverick Sheila Heti’s previous books The Middle Stories and Ticknor. Designing for Sheila is always a challenge and a blast. I feel I have to live up to the risk-taking literary nature of her writing. How Should A Person Be? was no different. I found my self substituting Book Cover for Person in the title for my own purposes and inspiration.

The end result combines a black case holding the title and author name in a white stamp and a (little less than) half jacket sporting an unflattering and telling snapshot of Sheila and Margaux, the main characters in the novel. The image obsessively repeats over and over. The jacket sitting at the base of the book obscures Sheila’s oversized name. In doing so the typography reflects Sheila’s longing for fame and her subsequent struggles with it.

Perhaps speaking to the book’s title, perhaps representing the book’s two main characters, I purposely mismatched the dots over the i’s in Sheila’s name.

Sheila asked if I could somehow create end papers that would harken tacky wallpaper of Miami hotel rooms, linking to an early and important chapter in the book. I researched existing wallpaper and imagery but nothing was quite right so I created this front and back set from scratch. It was the perfect element to tie the whole package together.


A New Yet Rusty Blog

I’ve recently launched a new blog titled SMALLTOWNBOY about life on the farm. Hope to see you there.


Bird out of water

The final design for the often hilarious One Bird’s Choice. The subtitle nicely sums this one up. I needed to find a way of quickly relating the crux of the story while hitting the proper note and being cognizant not alienate too much of the readership by going too alt or indie even though the book has its leanings in that direction. After searching high and low for fitting footwear to represent the books main characters and the perfect welcome mat (a tough find, thanks Walmart) I set up this little still life (shot by Edward Pond). I fashioned a guinea fowl (that's the butt ugly bird on the cover who lives with Iain’s parents on their farm) footprint out of putty and stamped a trail of muddy bird prints leading from the back cover to the welcome mat. A subtle typographic detail; the two little red dingbat dots on either side of the author’s name are meant to represent his parents whereas the red apostrophe in the word Bird’s harkens Iain and the red a connection to the bird.

When I saw this photo of the author Iain Reid I immediately started laughing and chomping at the bit to make a fitting cover out of it. The photo, to me projected a classic portrait of a lost twenty-something in the 21st century. By using the type bar as a blindfold the author was obscured just enough. Plus Iain looked like he had just walked off the set of a Wes Anderson film. The treatment was ultimately deemed too “alternative” but it did lead to some typographic solutions that worked well on the final cover.


Toot, Toot

In the span of 24 hrs I received notification from Communication Arts that this one made it into their 2010 Design Annual and right on the heels of that news the ADCC informed me that the book had won 3 awards in its show. A couple hours later an email arrived from Applied Arts telling me they had selected it for their annual too. And I didn't even know it had been entered! Pretty nice.

This book was posted in greater detail on this blog back in April.

A horn tooting update: On Nov. 4 the book was awarded 2 Golds and a Silver at the ADCCs.



05.10.2010 update: Annabel has been shortlisted for the Giller Prize! One more step to go!
20.09.2010 update: Today Annabel was longlisted for the Giller Prize! Congrats Kathleen!

From the jacket:
In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret — the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as “Annabel” — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life.

Instead of going the route of human boy/girl imagery I thought it much more visually compelling to take from the rugged and beautiful setting of Labrador and its natural environment using the caribou — a recurring image in the novel — to depict the duality of its main character. Combining elements I used a faded and blurred, almost watery image of a young doe being encroached upon from above by a massive rack of male antlers. But like the book, all is not as it seems. The caribou, you see, is the only member of the deer family in which both male and females grow antlers.


Insta-Video. Fun For The Whole Family!

Got a few minutes to spare in your day? Make a video for a great song that never had one.
This took all of 5 minutes to throw together. It's no "Thriller" but here's hoping Ian would have liked it.


A less shiny Las Vegas

Photos taken on a recent trip.


A Collaboration

This book, entitled I travelled to India, got bitten by a dog, went back home and got a bunch of rabies shots then flew back to India and ate the country (catchy title huh? I penned that mouthful) is a collaboration between photographer extraordinaire Edward Pond and myself. This book documents Edward’s travels through India and the revered place that food holds in its culture.

More Spring Poetry, 2010


More from the “Reject” Heap

A great book of short stories from 2008. Written from a decidedly male view point this collection speaks of the forbidden, complex world of children acting out half-understood fantasies of adulthood; the familiar, modern world of young couples navigating hairpin emotional turns . . .
I quite liked the bananas design. I liked the way the bunch worked for a short story collection. It also played well with the cheeky title and humourously reflected the maleness of the stories.
But alas . . .


The Farmhouse Excavation

The new (actually very old) farmhouse — and eventual studio — reno. 
This wall's done!


Poetry, Spring 2010

A recently completed cover design for Michael Lista's Bloom due for release in April 2010.

In May of 1946, on the day of a lunar eclipse, a Canadian physicist named Louis Slotin was in his last hours of work training his replacement on the Manhattan Project. Slotin’s job was to bring a core of nuclear fissile material as close to criticality as possible. This process is known as "tickling the dragon's tail."

The title Bloom refers to an event in which plutonium goes critical, in this case caused by Slotin's error, the slip of the screwdriver.

In his new work of poetry, Bloom, Michael Lista reimagines this fateful day.


Gig Poster

In An everlasting kiss . . .


Best Covers, 2010

When the Globe and Mail asked me to create a list of the decade’s ten best book cover designs, my first thought was “Yikes, where do I begin?”. There have been so many great covers created by a legion of talented graphic designers over the last ten years that that to make a definitive list is, of course, an impossibility. So this list is more accurately an arbitrary compilation of some of the decade’s book cover highlights and some of my personal favourites.