We buy them because we believe we are buying the time to read them.
Ok campers, here is your summer reading list. The following is a short annotated bibliography of a few of the Art+Design books that I think everyone should read in order to be a happy and fulfilled person. In no particular order:
Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones,
Let’s start off my list of art books with one that isn’t an Art book, per se. This can be found online (used) anywhere from $4 to $75; I recommend that you go with the $4 version unless you are a huge fan of Terry Jones or pressed fairies. The book presents the narrative and the vernacular of a journal kept by a woman through her life in which she would catch and press fairies in a book. It is a study in semiotics, nuance, craft and wit. This was always one of the first books I would reach for when wanting to talk to a student about semiotics and gestalt.
Emigre 37: Joint Venture
This is a magazine that I have recommended, referenced, xeroxed, lent, and had to repurchase a comical number of times over the years. Emigre was like a guiding light when I was a graduate design student and this issue was an awakening for me in its contemplation of the roles of writers and designers in communications. The traditional ethos was that the designer should be a transparent conduit between the writer and the reader. This issue challenged this convention and advanced that the designer could/should be an active participant in the communication. By no way a new idea, but this issue hit at exactly the right moment to propel my thinking.
Design Dialogues by Steven Heller and Elinor Pettit
This is one of those books that is dog-eared, highlighted and underlined with post-it notes jutting in all directions. This is a collection of essays by the A-list designers and design educators at the time. I found much of my early footing as a designer and teacher in these pages. One of the authors, Elinor Pettit, was one of my cherished professors from grad school. She was one of those professors who opened your eyes and fired your brain with their words and with the very way that they lived their lives and saw the world. Elinor gave me this copy; she had it signed by Steven Heller as a thank you for a project I did for them, but wish I would have had the presence of mind to have her sign it.
Modern Art 1890–1918 by Jean Clay
Without this, I wouldn’t be here. If we travel way back to 1992, I was a few years out of undergrad and using my Art degree to its fullest by working on cruise ships as a social host with no vision of an artistic future. I was really good at bingo jokes and cocktail parties. On an off day wandering through San Pedro I found this book and it spoke to me in a way that none of my college art history professors had. This was the book that made me want to dive into art history and theory and (with the help of a Mark Tansey exhibit at the LA museum) made me want to paint.
Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving by Judith and Richard Wilde
The summer before grad school, I hadn’t been in school for a while and in those few short years the world had changed with the introduction of the Apple computer. I knew nothing about computers so I decided to take a couple of classes at St. Pete Junior College to make sure that I was ready to hit the ground running when I got up to NYC in the fall. One of the professors, Barbara Hubbard, used this text and it was a first step in a trajectory, transitioning my brain from thinking as an artist to thinking like a designer. I have used this book and its projects to teach classes ranging from grad students to 5th graders (yes, really) and I have gone through multiple copies through the years.