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seriouSeries No. 4

What do designers look for in a design book? What should writers be concerned about covering? What elements should publishing houses take into account when deciding on the next volume to be published? Aesthetic appearance, rich visuals, lots of copy, hefty and recognizable names, big words readers will need to look up in the dictionary…

It is high time we all started talking to each other. It is time for us to communicate as partners — for this is what we are — to work together in our common goal. The best design books that we can produce and read.

In our fourth — and biggest! — seriouSeries we will explore a topic very dear to us: books.

Through a discussion panel we will discuss what writers want to write, what publishers want to publish and what designers want to read. Accompanying us on the panel will be:

Michael Bierut › Studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Prior to joining Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the firm’s New York office, he worked for ten years at Vignelli Associates, ultimately as vice president of graphic design. He writes frequently about design and the co-editor of the four-volume series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design published by Allworth Press. In 1998 he co-edited and designed the monograph Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist. His commentaries about graphic design in everyday life can be heard nationally on the Public Radio International program “Studio 360.” Michael is co-founder of the online journal Design Observer.

Steve Heller › Art director of The New York Times Book Review and co-chair of the MFA/Design Program of the School of Visual Arts. He has written and co-authored over 80 books on graphic design and popular art. In 1999 he received the AIGA Medal.

From Princeton Architectural Press:
Clare Jacobson › Editorial director of Princeton Architectural Press. In her 16 years at the press, she has edited over 100 books on architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, product design, and photography. Her books have won numerous awards, including the AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers, American Institute of Architects Citation for Excellence, New York Society Library’s New York City Book Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. She is the author of Karlssonwilker Inc’s TellMeWhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company.

Kevin Lippert › Publisher of Princeton Architectural Press, a New York-based publishing company specializing in books on architecture, landscape, urbanism, design, and visual culture, which he founded in 1981. The Press has won numerous awards for its editorial program and for individual titles. Lippert is also an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Computer Instruction and Technology at the Cooper Union; he previously taught computing at the School of Architecture at Princeton University. In addition to the Van Alen, Lippert is on the board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture, and has served on the board of the Society of Architectual Historians. He was also written several articles, most recently the introduction to John Johansen’s Nanoarchitecture.

From Allworth Press:
Michael Madole › Publicity director for Allworth Press. Favorite titles for which he has handled publicity campaigns include Editing by Design by Jan V. White, Careers by Design by Roz Goldfarb, and The Real Business of Web Design by John Waters. He has written articles for PMA Newsletter and other trade publications.

Nicole Potter › Senior editor at Allworth Press and an adjunct professor in the theatre department of Marymount Manhattan College. She has been the editor of numerous theater and film books and has written articles for film magazines, including Films in Review and The Perfect Vision. An MFA graduate in performing, her extensive theatrical background includes ten years as a member of The Irondale Ensemble, during which she had leading roles in both original works and in productions of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekov, and Brecht. She continues to act and direct at venues in the New York City area. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Some facts about the event:

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004 7:00 PM

The Producers’ Club Theatres
358 West 44th Street
New York, NY
(Piano available!)

$10.00 (You may pay now or at the door).

If you would like to purchase more than one ticket, you may update the quantity in your shopping cart.

You can reserve your seat too, if you would rather pay at the door. This will help us have a better idea of attendance. E-mail us with your reservation intentions.

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ARCHIVE ID 2139 FILED UNDER Speak Up Announcements
PUBLISHED ON Nov.15.2004 BY Bryony & Armin
Bryony’s comment is:

we will explore a topic very dear to us: books.

Without a doubt this is an interesting topic, one that usually produces hot tongs and heavy breathing from us designers. A constant debate amongst us, this should provide for a good dialogue between all of those involved in producing a design book.

That perfect design book, the one you are constantly dreaming about… bring it out for public opinion.

On Nov.16.2004 at 12:08 PM
g’s comment is:

What a fantastic event! And really great timing for me.

The speakers on the panel are choice picks, what a great idea Byrony & Armin!

I have to ask because I'm in this particular situation...

is it tacky and horrible to bring a book proposal to this event?

On Nov.16.2004 at 12:36 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I wouldn't say it's tacky nor horrible but it might not be the best "environment" to hand off something you've been working on for some time. It might be left at the venue or in the taxi ride home, or who knows. Better to establish a conversation that night and let them know that you'll be sending them a proposal their way. Just a thought.

On Nov.16.2004 at 12:49 PM
Randy’s comment is:

Is there a limit to the number of attendees?

On Nov.16.2004 at 01:29 PM
Armin’s comment is:

I think it's something like 140 people… the venue where we are holding this has a few "stages" of different sizes, the one where we will hold the event is the biggest, the others were taken. So there is plenty of room. And we are darn ready to fill it!

On Nov.16.2004 at 01:36 PM
g’s comment is:

thanks Armin.

That was what I thought afterwards, just got a bit excited when I saw the panel. I think i'm going to book a flight to NYC for this!

I saw Chip Kidd here in Toronto couple weeks back, he was hilarious and startling - halfway through, he broke into this strange character impression of the wicked witch of the west! I think 99% of the audience were graphic designers (the event was an International Festival of Authors Reading) It would be interesting to see him on the panel as well, for his perspective as book designer/writer versus the other writers.

On Nov.16.2004 at 02:31 PM
Mike Ziegenhagen’s comment is:

A & B

I am assuming one does not have to register if paying at the event.

Thanks guys.

On Nov.16.2004 at 03:18 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

I am assuming one does not have to register if paying at the event.

That would be correct.

Although, as we think about it, if you want to reserve your spot and pay at the door, send us an email and we will add you to the list.

We’ll use the honor system. (And let us know if you need to cancel.)

On Nov.16.2004 at 03:39 PM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Quick question from the left coast...

If we are unable to migrate East for this event will there be an online summary, or dialogue regarding the results, post mortem?

Very interested in what the "Survey Says" or Louey Anderson depending on which era you are from.

Perhaps we could later hold a west coast version at a future date? Without any East Coast, West Coast crap, of course. One Love. It might make for a good Y Conference thinkshop session...

On Nov.17.2004 at 10:36 AM
Don Julio’s comment is:

Very interested in what the "Survey Says" (insert Richard Dawson voiceover here) or Louey Anderson depending on which era you are from.

Lost a piece of text above - which is why it is always best to preview before you post.

On Nov.17.2004 at 10:39 AM
Armin’s comment is:

DJ, there will certainly be some sort of review. I failed to do one for seriouSeries 3, but there will definitely be one for this.

Also, I would like to add something about this event. We expect — and will encourage — a lot of participation from the audience and a lot of interaction with the panelists. One of the basic premises of seriouSeries is that it's a conversation between everybody in the room, it's not a show and tell or monologues or preachin' from above. We are all in it to talk, listen and share equally.

And thanks to all those that have already registered or reserved a seat.

On Nov.17.2004 at 10:47 AM
Timothy Cowlishaw’s comment is:

This looks well worth attending! Sadly, am in the UK, and can't subsiidise a jaunt to the US (both in financial and time terms), and following on from the post about transcripts above, was wondering if anyone thought it might be a good idea (as you presumably have a huge international readership) to produce a sound recording of the talk that could be streamed at a later date? - might be easier than typing out a transcript / summary anyway...

On Nov.18.2004 at 06:39 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Timothy, we'll certainly look into that option. At the least, we will try to post a few video clips of interesting bits.

On Nov.18.2004 at 08:53 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Michael Bierut will be joining the rest of the panel for this event. Without much premonition, I can attest that this will be a fun and enlightening evening.

We think you all should come, but that's just our (biased) opinion.

On Nov.23.2004 at 01:22 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

That's shaping up to be quite the line up. How did the concept for No. 4 start?

On Nov.23.2004 at 04:02 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Well, about two months ago Bryony and I went to a book presentation hosted by Princeton Architectural Press (Paul Davis' Us & Them), mostly to meet the nice people who send us books for reviews. We had a really nice time and the nice people who send us books are indeed really nice. One of the brief conversations we had was how cool it would be to know what designers want in a book… at the moment we laughed it off with some smarty remarks.

So, having dinner afterwards Bryony and I were saying that we should do something with them, exactly what, we didn't know. Eventually we came back to the conversation we had earlier and thought that it would be interesting to get together a panel of publicists and authors to talk about books. We invited PAP and Allworth initially, and also extended invitations to Graphis and Yale University Press. Later we invited Heller since, well, he knows a thing or two about books. And lastly, Michael, who has edited quite a few books and is now one of the most prolific writers.

And because our seriouSeries are all about interaction between the "people in front" and the attendees we figured this would be a perfect issue to discuss together.

And I think that's it…

On Nov.23.2004 at 08:36 PM
Bryony’s comment is:

Thanks to all of you who have registered.

We look forward to seeing you and hearing your opinions.

On Nov.30.2004 at 08:36 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Oh, and we got a better deal on the venue, so we were able to bring the admission price down from $12 to a whoppingly-low $10.

On Nov.30.2004 at 09:21 AM
Betsy Ho’s comment is:

Thanks for letting me know about this talk. Unfortunately, I will be among the many cattle heading for the SPD roundup that evening.

Keep me posted for others.


On Nov.30.2004 at 01:07 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Following is an approximate agenda for the evening. Aptly (lamely?) divided in chapters.

Chapter 1: The Books

To start the evening we will try to establish some common ground around the notion of a “graphic design book”. What do each of us consider to be a book about graphic design.

Chapter 2: The Audience

Clearly, graphic designers are the audience. What are the peculiarities to this audience? Is it too small, too targeted? Is it too broken up?

Chapter 3: The Content (aka The Meat)

How does content for books take shape? How are those winning proposals started? Once accepted, how is it carried to completion? Here we will also talk about the author’s role.

Chapter 4: The Production

We’ll talk specifics here, how does a book get done logistically? Who designs what? Who determines the print run? Who goes to see proofs in China? Here we will talk about the role of the publisher in facilitating production.

Chapter 5: The Sales

What sells? Are books labeled un/successful based on numbers alone? What are the expectations in the industry, how many books should a house publish in a given year?

Chapter 6: The Conclusion

What now? What happens next for graphic design books? Same ol’, same ol’ or can we expect new things, new authors?

More or less. We have questions for the audience as well, so come prepared.

On Dec.02.2004 at 04:10 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

An interesting question for the audience could be about their reading habits on design. If they were to divide their time between reading about design online to stuff printed, is it 50/50 etc. or is one extremely disportionate to the other?

On Dec.02.2004 at 04:29 PM
Armin’s comment is:

To all who came last night: Thanks!

If I may say so, I thought the evening was quite enjoyable and interesting. It was nice to see a lot of participation from such a nice audience on such a crappy, rainy night.

We will post some commentary about the evening later this month or early the next month.

On Dec.08.2004 at 01:17 PM
Michael Dooley’s comment is:

Any chance a video/audio/text transcript will be available for sale?

On Dec.08.2004 at 01:47 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Maybe. We are still trying to figure out what are the best way(s) to transcribe these evenings. (Ideas are welcome! We usually have video and that's it, and sometimes it's a bit off.)

On Dec.08.2004 at 02:10 PM
Daniel’s comment is:

I should have taken my camera.

On Dec.08.2004 at 05:59 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Not the greatest quality picture, as it is a screen grab off of video, but just to give you an idea…

Left to right: Mr. Vit, Kevn Lippert (PAPress), Steve Heller, Clare Jacobson (PAPress), Nicole Potter (Allworth), Michael Madole (Allworth), Michael Bierut and Mrs. Vit.

On Dec.09.2004 at 09:52 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Steve Heller, in AIGA's VOICE, writes in response to one of the comments voiced (pun somehow intended) in seriouSeries…

On Dec.13.2004 at 12:08 PM
ps’s comment is:

just to give you an idea…

who was in charge of lining up the red cups perfectly? -- great job.

On Dec.13.2004 at 06:21 PM
Armin’s comment is:

That would have been me, ps. Nice, huh?

At one point, Michael confused his cup for Bryony's shoe and tried to lift it. No. Not true. But funny if it were.

On Dec.14.2004 at 12:02 PM