Wall Work


A great thing about the internet that I very much appreciate is its ability to document my work when I'm too busy or lazy to do it myself. These are photos of some large format mixed media artwork from a 2008 show shot by the talented Jody Sugrue. They originally appeared on her excellent (but now defunct?) art/design/culture blog site eatingsandwiches.com. I miss these paintings so I'm grateful Jody made a record of them.


Alternates and Never-Was Designs From the Archives

Deep into the 11th hour the publisher did a 360 and we ended up going back to the drawing board on the cover for this fun book project. (2002, Vintage)

This book’s title ended up changing to Rust and Bone and we wound up going in a very different direction. (2005, Penguin)

I just couldn't make this one happen. (2006, Anansi)

Unfortunately the Madonna project went on permanent hiatus. (2005)

This great little novel changed publishers (Arsenal Pulp Press) and was released in 2000. (1999, Anansi)

This job was anything but heavenly. (2009, Anansi)

Even though the general consensus was to steer clear of using an actual cockroach I just couldn’t resist! (2008, Anansi)


Body of Work

Last winter I designed the packaging for Andy McGuires fantastic new alt folk album, Body of Work.A couple CDs arrived in the post today and they look great! Kudos to the printer whoever you are.
And bonus, Andy is planning to press some vinyl in the coming months. It’s a rare treat these days to get the opportunity to design a record sleeve.




The Antagonist


The final cover of the 2011 Giller shortlisted The Antagonist and some earlier proposals.


Why Not?

From the synopsis: Shortly after completing his sixth novel, Ray Robertson suffered a depression of suicidal intensity. Soon after recovering, he felt compelled to try and answer two of the biggest questions we can ask. What makes humans happy? And what makes a life worth living?

Much of Ray’s struggles with depression, it turns out were attributed to his debilitating bouts with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a disease he was diagnosed with over twenty years ago.
Using this information as inspiration I rigidly arranged 15 black dots, 3 rows of 5 dots each, on a tight grid representing the 15 reasons to live that Robertson chronicles in the book. The last row of 5 dots breaks formation to form a subtly hopeful smile. One of the dots here is replaced by a vinyl record, a quiet wink and a nod to Ray’s unabashed love of music and one of his life’s simple little joys of spinning vinyl.

Why Not? was just nominated for the inaugural Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize.


Barn Sale in Bobcaygeon

Yep, we’re havin’ a barn sale. For more info head on over to SMALLTOWNBOY.


Short-lived Logo

Back in '07 I designed the logo for an upstart Toronto-based hi-end burger joint called Craft burger. Last year they decided to change the name to Big Smoke Burger for legal reasons to do with expansion into the US market. They’ve since come up with a generic dumbed down redesign to facilitate the new name. Oh well, I guess logos don’t go on smoking forever!


A Punk Story

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

This was a fun one. I worked on Dirty, Drunk and Punk for over a year and it was almost entirely a blast putting this one together. Dirty, Drunk and Punk is the epically sordid tale of the Bunchofuckingoofs, a seminal Toronto punk band (actually they were more of a gang/movement/cult) in the 80s and 90s that reigned supreme over the legendary downtown neighbourhood of Kensington Market. Author Jenn Morton and Kisha Ferguson have written and documented one crazy twisted story.


Long Lost

This a little glimpse into a project I worked on about 5 years ago.
A+R, Artist in Residence (originally Artist + Repertoire) was to be a highly visual book/music hybrid project. It was the invention of a group of talented Americans and it sounded extremely promising. Each issue was to feature just one artist or band. It was to be the ultimate super fan must-have. The premiere issue focused on the Icelandic band Sigur Rós. We went on a mini tour with the band (New York City, Atlantic City, snowed out in Cleveland, Toronto) and I compiled a thousand great photos. Long story short, artist politics and demands reared its ugly head. A certain lead singer decided that an art school boyfriend could do a better job with the design and that was pretty much about that.
Some things just aren’t meant to be. Or at least the way you think.

Here are original designs for a proposed Radiohead edition (cover) and a back cover and spreads from the Sigur Rós book.


The Grid

A little feature here in the premiere issue of The Grid.


Methodist Hatchet

In book design it’s often best to keep authors a safe distance from the process. Publishers know this to be good practice. As do designers. And even the authors are usually on board. This being said there are of course always exceptions to the rule and occasionally a design author collaboration can have successful results. This I think is one of those exceptions.
When I was hired to come up with a cover for my pal Ken Babstock’s new (and stunning) collection of poetry I eagerly awaited Ken’s thoughts. Poetry, more than any other form of writing, is wide open to personal interpretation so I’m always keen to get the poet’s take.
Ken had come across an image he wanted me to take a look at. A piece by photographic artist Lisa Stinner-Kun. I saw it and I loved it. A line from the book’s catalogue copy reads “Marooned in the shiftless, unnamed space between a map of the world and a world of false maps, these poems cling to what’s necessary from each, yet attempt to sing their own bewilderment.” This sentiment seems to ring out in the image. I love the grid-based carpet that seems to go on forever whose lines emulate those on a globe or map. The evocative mess of ocean blue cable and the manufactured man-madeness and quietude of the photograph felt perfect. Ken also felt that a stacked type treatment for the title featuring odd word breaks was something he would like to see. I’m always game to try a treatment like this since almost every time I do it’s turned down. I experimented with a bunch of type treatments and we eventually settled on this one.
Thanks for the great input, Ken. Your cheque is in the mail.