Archive for the 'Anchor Books' Category

Big, Fat, Juicy, (Incomplete) Update

Long time, no post. The past few months have had me mired (albeit willingly) in an ark sized boatload of new projects—the deadlines of which have conveniently stacked up upon one another in a seemingly unending row. I’ve been a longtime adherent to the belief that opportunity never presents itself at a moment of convenience and the past few months proved themselves hell-bent on reinforcing that. So, in order to avoid running the risk of this blog being mistaken for a recently abandoned tenement, here’s a spattering of what’s been happening:

1. NEW SITE (!)
First things first. It only took three years of procrastination followed by a two month crash course in Indexhibit, but I finally have a new site. The URL is the same, but the work contained therein is actually, truly, (well, mostly) current. This task had been on my design bucket list for way too long, so the fact that the majority of the heavy lifting is done is a huge personal coup. As a self proclaimed style sheet/CSS Luddite, Indexhibit is not the simplest program to wrangle my head around, however its genius lies in its protean flexibility which practically forces you to learn some basic web building principles, so (hopefully), fine tuning it going forward won’t be quite as laborious as it was for my previous one. Check it.


2. Joe Klein & TIME

Earlier this year I was fortunate to begin working with art director Andreé Kahlmorgan at TIME Magazine illustrating bi-monthly columns for Joe Klein, a journalist who’s tenacity and quality of output has proven multiple times over that he’s not so much of a slouch. Mr. Klein’s political column for TIME, more often than not, examines current events from the perspective of a single active participant or group in the event he’s covering. To illustrate that effectively (as well as with a modicum of consistency), the illustration is approached as a conceptual portrait each week, pulling current head shots with Andreé of the players in question and providing narrative context. The turnaround time is roughly equivalent to that of an op/ed. The Obama image above was done for a springtime Klein piece about the increasingly negative and hostile portrayals of Obama that his growing detractors are using in media campaigns. More Klein pieces follow below:

Klein writing as Benjamin Netanyahu and his fly-on-the-wall perspective of the Arab Spring.

Klein on Obama’s and Paul Ryan’s fractured healthcare negotiations.

On the government’s financial mismanagement of great-in-theory programs like Head Start.

On government’s current capability for compromise in the wake of the debt ceiling debacle.

On Mitt Romney’s current second place position in GOP presidential race behind Rick Perry.


3. Frank Bruni for the NYT Sunday Review

Upon the simultaneous retiring of the NY Times’ Week In Review and the birth of their Sunday Review, I’ve also begun trading off with Chris Brand illustrating Frank Bruni’s regular Sunday column since the section got up and running in July. Bruni, like Joe Klein, tackles current politics as well, but he applies a measured, rational wit to his outrage which allows him to deconstruct his themes in a humorous way which, in turn, gives Aviva and I some room to aim for some humor in the illustrations. The piece above accompanied one of his earliest pieces for the Sunday Review in which he opined to have children and spouses of candidates removed from the campaign platform and candidates’ list of talking points. Other recent illos for Bruni’s column follow below and Aviva Michaelov art directed all of them:

This portrait of Casey Anthony, aided with the significant help of a xerox machine, was paired with his post mortem analysis of her trial.

This one went along with an article which used the instance of an Arizona state senator sneaking a small gun into a courthouse as a springboard to address the curious state of current U.S. gun legislation.

This one explored all the ways in which Michele Bachmann is virtual catnip for media pundits. Also, her migraines. Before sending this one in, I showed it around to a handful of designers and three recoiled from it, complaining that the illustration was giving them a headache. Mission accomplished.

This was a tough one. This piece went along with Bruni’s exploration of a political candidate’s false humility—often echoing a declaration of “answering a call” to public service as opposed to simply coming clean and candidly owning their interest in money and power and control. Aviva and Joon Mo Kang helped this one along.

For an article about how ‘smart’ a politician is counts for only so much for his/her effectiveness as a politician.


4. Overshadowed for the Washington Post

Again, for the national press. This one was an illustration for the Washington Post’s Outlook section for their cover piece concerning how the 9/11 attacks on New York perpetually overshadow the 9/11 attacks of Washington. Prior to running this, there was much discussion at the paper as to whether the ‘a-ha’ moment that the viewer gets when looking at the image arrives too late, however Kristin Lenz was an outrageously supportive advocate for this treatment and it made it through the editorial review roundly unscathed. Looking at a mini on-screen version doesn’t help to sell the point too much, so here’s a close up to bludgeon the point home:



If I’m being truthful (and I am), these two covers above and below were completed well before this summer, but since all the titles I’ve worked on since April aren’t camera ready just yet, here are the two that just recently came out.

Instant Replay, above was done for Mr. John Gall under the Anchor Sports imprint. Being personally indifferent about football as I am, this project began with a lot of inwardly directed chortling and later gave way to a personal revelation (albeit a minor one). That revelation being that while I find watching football to be something of a chore, reading about it is awesome. Or alternately, this book is just incredibly honest, thoughtful and good. For the fellow uninitiated, right guard Jerry Kramer essentially accounts in his diary what turns out to be the Green Bay Packers’ historic 1967 season culminating with the legendary “Ice Bowl”. The book is blissfully out of touch with the modern NFL insomuch as the events portrayed are relatively scandal free and that discussion of paychecks, (small ones, incidentally) are secondary to the collective desire to perform well and win. In football circles (read: everyone except me and 27 other U.S. born citizens), the book is regarded as a bit of a playbook classic. Reading it, it’s easy to understand why that is.

Lastly, this one by Douglas Rushkoff concerns the positive and negative ways in which the internet affects both human behavior and human happiness. If one were planning to double-fist books like this, this one would make for an excellent dance partner. Done for the fine people at Soft Skull Press.

And that’s it for now. Much more on the way. Everything above represents a sliver of my summer, so I need to get outside for a minute before the weather turns cold.

The November Criminals by Sam Munson


Art direction: John Gall


The November Criminals by Sam Munson is a first-person account of resident smart-ass Addison Schacht: a self-loathing, pot peddling, hyper-articulate high school senior who enlists his best friend Digger (who he emphatically swears is not his girlfriend) to help investigate the mysterious death of a fellow student who was neither their friend nor their enemy. The story is told in the form of a lengthy protracted confessional college essay addressed to the admissions board at the University of Chicago.




Between the overall mythos of high school, Addison’s verbal cadences as well as the story’s essay structure, this cover was a gift to design for. I handed my comps off to John one day, time passed and a few months later I was informed that we had an approval for the above cover with nary an art amendment requested. A sampling of other ideas I submitted in that round went like this:










I kept waiting for a sudden, critical about-face from the publisher sending me back to the drawing board to grind out new ideas, but the moment never arrived. The good fortune in this instance all but assured that I will never have it so easy again in my life. To further cement this certainty, neither marketing, nor the editor nor the publisher seemed to mind when Addison hijacked their back cover copy with his leaky red marker either.



Adland for Anchor


A few months back, I had the occasion to meet some dude named John Gall who invited me to speak to his students at his SVA book design class. The students were treated to an hour long oration of my adventures in design from the past five years in addition to multiple sidebars where I cataloged some of my bigger public mistakes and snafus (complete with slides, no less). John, in turn, let me take a stab (or 20) at a cover in the form of ex-advertising executive James P. Othmer’s polemic: Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet.

The book is a self-effacing, first person account of Othmer watching the advertising landscape transform around himself over the tenure of his career in the late ’90′s and early 00′s. It reads as one part memoir and one part exploded diagram—charting the efficacy of modern advertising between television commercials with multimillion dollar budgets and catering all the way down to spam.

The chosen cover above was my attempt at visualizing multiple competing messages (which Othmer examines at length in the book) and arranging them into a cover that can actually be read.

Half of the killed comps below (and there were many others) have a preoccupation with chickens. This is because Othmer has a preoccupation with chickens. Throughout the book, he measures success in advertising with the chicken as his yardstick. Specifically, the rote, stockholder-dictated constraints of the KFC commercials which he’s obligated to visualize as their creative director, versus the groundbreaking and wildly successful ‘Subservient Chicken‘ campaign produced by Burger King in the early 2000′s which contributed to thousands upon thousands of untold wasted hours on the internet typing in outrageous commands with which to exert supremacy over a man in a chicken suit. In the comping stages, the chicken became this perfect conduit that lead me through Othmer’s narrative.

Comically, despite the chicken’s virtual omnipresence inside the book, the covers in which I attempted to use them were killed largely because they wouldn’t have made much sense to anyone who hadn’t been prepped with the preceding paragraph, thereby proving the rule once again that while chickens are still very funny, they can’t sell you advertising.