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Review & Giveaway: The Smashing Book #2

Review & Giveaway: The Smashing Book #2

Don't go anywhere!!! There's a super fantastic book giveaway after our feature presentation!


Just holding this book makes me go, "ahhh..."

Everyone is raving about the quality of book #2 compared to book #1 (or published media in general). I don't blame them. I almost didn't mention it, because everyone else has, but that was ALSO my initial thought upon receiving my copy of the book. Straight from the box, I instinctively noticed these things in this order:

First, I noticed that I can plop it in my purse, no problem (and I don't carry an overly-large purse!). It's not too heavy or too many square/cubic inches. That's important, because I dread getting a great book, but eyeballing how thick it is sometimes hurts as I rarely have time for reading real books. My arms aren't going to fall off trying to hold it up while I'm laying in bed reading it.

Second, most definitely the quality. Smashing Magazine did not skimp on getting this little ditty published. Quality, stitch-bound, hard cover and hefty pages that produce sharp graphics. It's a nice tight number that you'll probably keep on your desk or prop on a shelf just because it's so pretty.

Third, artwork and graphics, amazing! They seriously couldn't go wrong with using Yiying Lu (yes, forever known as the creator of the famous Fail Whale from Twitter.com). But seriously, who can resist that kind of work, I know my three year old can't! What three year old do you know peruses a web and graphic design book with focus and interest? I will admit mine has a great attention span, but still... I'm caught flipping through the pages simply studying the chapter artwork. I have to laugh at myself.

Fourth and last, the cutest little ribbon bookmark comes attached. What a nice little touch! I bet this is the most talked about ribbon bookmark in the history of books. I suppose I will not be lazily dog-earing my new book.

So hands down on the book construction and makeup. Smashing you get a full applause in that area (I think everyone else would agree, no?)!

My thoughts from reading & perusing...

Chapters include:

  1. #1 The Principles of Great Graphic Deisign
  2. #2 Visible vs. Invisible Design
  3. #3 Designing Mobile User Experiences
  4. #4 Sketching, Wireframing and Prototyping
  5. #5 Red Flags (Warning Signs) in Web Development
  6. #6 The Future of Web Typeography
  7. #7 Applying Game Design Principles to User Experience Design
  8. #8 When they Click: Psychology of Web Design and User Behavior
  9. #9 Design Patterns in e-Commerce Websites (Study)
  10. #10 How to Make a Book (Like this One)


I realize that you can make something look pretty dang great, but fill it with garbage. Not in this case. I might be a bit bias because I am a HUGE fan of Smashing Magazine and the fantastic information they continue to provide to the design and web communities.... I will note, however, that the previous Smashing Book #1 seemed somewhat of a letdown to a "few" folks, which has become more prevailiant with Book #2 being such a positive hit and maybe with more of a comeback in the comparisons being made.

My primary area is Design. Both in print and web. And I will openly admit, I'm not ever going to be in the one of the top designers of the world because of this and that - so a book like this is absolutely PERFECT for me. I think anyone who wants a nice review, more insight

What I enjoyed in the first chapter was the correlation between the two, how different and yet similar they are.

"It stands to reason, then, that the process of design involves making deliberate and appropriate graphical choices in order to best communicate the intended message. This applies as much to designing for the Web as it does to designing for print." - excerpt, page 15

What I most enjoyed about this chapter was it's focus on using design effectively and timelessly. When I was reading through the pages of Timeless Thinking - which included talk about simplicity, adding too much gaudy junk (aka ornaments), minimalism, contrast, space and tension... it really brought me back to the basics in art school and working with drawing techniques. Sometimes I feel that I start a project over-designing and after I get that part about needing to impress the client out of my system and go minimal, it never fails to be the winning pick - this chapter was a kick in the pants refresher.

Then I read on to variations of  Type and its effectiveness as well as the role it plays. Overall, a golden chapter to set your path a little straighter or teach you a few things.

"While a good graphic designer works to create an attractive design for the client, a great graphic designer pushes further, striving to understand the  crux of the project's objective. The great designer builds on the various concepts ..." - excerpt, page 44

My other favorite, is chapter 7: Applying Game Design Principles to User Experience Design. What I most enjoyed was the play off of understanding the correlation between the two to make an easier way to think about UX Design. My favorite part starting with the section, The Name of the Game which goes through each of the five key attributes of the "game" of online interaction. It became a fun way to think about UX Design.


In conclusion, I like that the end of each chapter will sum up with a number of useful resources, about the author, some history from that section and even a nice extra Reading List for more in-depth study on a subject if interested - actually, I would have liked more reading resources at the ends of more chapters. I thought that was very helpful and resourceful to place in one area, instead of having to dig back through my dog-eared and highlighted pages and notes to locate a good resource I just know I marked.

I do find that this book is something I will be keeping on my desk for some time to reference and re-reference when my mind is fogged or fighting to go a direction my gut knows I shouldn't.


Are you tired of hearing me blab blab blab about the book? Are you just dying to get your hands on your own copy? Well here's your chance, we have 3 copies in our giveaway!


Contest Rules are simple. This will be a random drawing of three lucky commenters who provide the following information in their comment:

Please provide what your specialty is be it Design Warlord, Freelance Web Designer or Couch Potato... but seriously, I would like to know what you do for money or fun in the relationship to wanting the book in your grubby little paws.

The contest will run from March 10th, 2011 through March 18th, 2011 - Winners will be announced the following week, Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011. Winners will also be emailed via Love Notes on COLOURlovers.com so make sure you turn your notifications ON for both in-site and email so that I can collect your address and get your prize out ASAP. Contest is for COLOURlovers.com users only, so if you aren't a member, get signed up and get commenting!

update: Did I forget to mention you can of course buy the book here (at SmashingMagazine.com) as well as preview a sample from the book and get other details. Pop on over and check it out!

But wait there's MORE! Apparently there was just too much good stuff to go to print, so Smashing Magazine is GIVING you a FREE eBOOK called The Lost Files (free eBook).


Results will be posted Tuesday, March 22nd (unless they magically appear on Monday the 21st. ;) Have a great weekend everyone!

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Chromatic: The Crossroads Between Color and Music

Chromatic: The Crossroads Between Color and Music

Support this project on KICKSTARTER.

The details are out about the latest book from ALARM PRESS, and i'm thrilled to be sharing them with all you color lovers, but to insure this book makes it to print we need to show a little love before April 8th, 2011 and pre-order or select one of the other support options on the project's KICKSTARTER page.

At nearly 400 pages of full-color artwork and editorial, Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color and Music, is a dynamic print presentation of independent musicians and artists who are using or exploring color in unorthodox ways. Packed with vibrant images and colorful perspectives, the book includes content on: musical synesthesia, audible color: the proposed mathematical correlation between color and pitch, psychedelic color and music, timbre, blue notes, the chromatic scale, concept albums based on color, performers who use color to add to their stage presence, polychromatic cover art, bands photographed in their favorite colors, wild illustrations of musical notes translated into hues to create elaborate geometric works of art, and if that wasn't enough, there is a chapter with guest editors Seripop, the eccentric Montreal based printing and design duo. What filters through, with the help of the high aesthetic standards of ALARM PRESS, is the line where color, music, art and design meet, and ultimately how the experience of color and music is unique for each of us.

Sneak Peak | Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color and Music

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2010 Printmaking Round-up

2010 Printmaking Round-up

You know, the computer screen just doesn't do any of this work justice, but that's certainly not going to stop me from gushing. And this year there's a number of innovative twists on this old-timey medium which always makes for compelling work. So, here you are, best of the best (at least from my seat) printed pieces of 2010.

This poster is most memorable for it's darling childish hand and classic message. A father & son collaboration, by Studio on Fire and Koen (age 6), the doodles were assembled digitally and letterpressed 14x20" with yellow and gold ink. $30 for sale here.

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Print Trends: White Fungus Magazine

Print Trends: White Fungus Magazine

White Fungus is an experimental arts magazine based in Taichung City, Taiwan. Featuring writing on art, music, history and politics, plus original artworks, poetry, fiction and comics, White Fungus is an ongoing experiment in community media art. As the spores have been released its creators look forward to seeing which way the wind blows. The only thing more uncertain than its future is its past.

白木耳雜誌 是一本發源於台中的當代前衛藝術雜誌, 內容詳細介紹了關於來自世界各地的前衛音樂 、歷史、 政治、 原創作品、 詩、 短篇小說 與漫畫。白木耳雜誌本身既是一個社群媒體藝術的實驗過程。當這些實驗性的孢子逐漸成熟而散落,雜誌創刊者十分期待風會將這些孢子傳遞至何方,但關於未來,一切則充滿了新的生機與各種可能性。




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Multi-Polar Projects: 4 Identities 1 Person Art Collective - Interview

Multi-Polar Projects: 4 Identities 1 Person Art Collective - Interview

ITSOKCOLORWAY from Multi Polar on Vimeo.

For Matthew Hoffman it's all about identity. On the casual outward glance he's a 9-5er, a career oriented young chap, probably unknown to some as...shhhh....an artist. But over wayside he runs Multi-Polar Projects, a rep house for artists Sighn, H. Mathis, Ervin Orion and Mateo. An art collective of four dudes pursing their own separate works. Which is bad-ass alone, yet is ostensibly all very straight-forward, until you learn the entire Multi-Polar Projects crew is just a single person. Hoffman. Which then begs the question, where is the artist and where is the person? And also how? And...When does the sleeping happen?

It's not really a question that needs answering, it's a delightful enough proposition on its own. It's seems to be merely the only way Hoffman knows how to be an artist. It's ingrained in his process and can't be teased out.

Better still? He's dropping a new project after a year-long art-making hiatus.

What ensued was an extensive back-and-forth between myself, Sighn, H. Mathis, and Multi-Polar Projects. Hilarious because Hoffman's playing all the parts from separate addresses.

Sighn's the moniker responsible, working in his typical text-only emotive style. ITSOKCOLORWAY is the rainbow-hued edition of his ongoing ITSOKAY Project. As the Tweeps and Facespaces erupt with millions of electronic blurbs per day and viral campaign after campaign goes zipping into internet obscurity, he's busy carving pithy witticisms out of wood with a life-long goal of 1 million wooden ITSOKs. It's a permanent snap-shot of communication, forged from materials that once grew in the earth. Part sculpture, part talisman, all parts delicious typography and wordplay, you'd have to be a cyborg not to have feeeeeeelings when taking in the work.

I shot Sighn a request to answer some light-hearted interview questions, and what ensued was an extensive back-and-forth between myself, Sighn, H. Mathis, and Multi-Polar Projects. Hilarious because Hoffman's playing all the parts from separate addresses, poking fun at himself the entire time. In the end it ended up as a snarky not-so-subtle, and entirely unintentional, jab at long annoying email chains. Oh my stars and garters kids, this email at its most artistic (and meta) indeed... For this designer, blogger and typography geek, that's the black hole of perfect.

So here you go: H. Mathis' illustrated responses to Sighn's interview questions. By Matthew Hoffman. I think.

1. Doodle a story that your son told you:

2. Make us a Venn Diagram:

3. Draw a fuck-up that you ended up liking and used in your work:

4. What is it exactly that's on the inside?

5. Draw your process:

6. A love letter to your favorite snack:

I guess this is what I call reinventing being an artist. Old schooling the new school. And there's no tells just how far this kid can go. It's mayhem! Mania! It's going to rule, bro. Someone please save me from myself, before there's ecstatic-induced vomiting like that kid in Adam Sandler's Big Daddy.

Learn more and order your own piece here. ITSOKs come in 10 colors, plus natural unfinished bamboo or basswood. $20 each.

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Must Read Color Books

Must Read Color Books

If you're looking for a gift to give a color lover this holiday season consider one of these classic color books. This is not an exhaustive list (if you have some favorite titles share them in the comments), but we think these are some great suggestions, each packed with valuable information and inspiration.

Interaction of Color

By Josef Albers

Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color is a masterwork in twentieth-century art education. Conceived as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students, this timeless book presents Albers’s unique ideas of color experimentation in a way that is valuable to specialists as well as to a larger audience.

The latest edition presents a significantly expanded selection of more than thirty color studies alongside Albers’s original unabridged text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusions of transparency and reversed grounds. Now available in a larger format and with enhanced production values, this expanded edition celebrates the unique authority of Albers’s contribution to color theory and brings the artist’s iconic study to an eager new generation of readers.

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Eclectic Color Roundup: Books

Eclectic Color Roundup: Books

The Threadless Book

We have a lot of love for Threadless, the inspiring community based, crowd-sourced t-shirt company that has been printing the designs of their users, and building a forerunning company, for ten years now. In honor of their ten year anniversary they've published a book filled with some of their best designs, interviews with Threadless members and the history of the company written by founder Jake Nickell.  The Threadless book takes us through the colorful creations of an entire generation of design and t-shirt lovers, the most colorful of them all being the company itself.

The Exquisite Book

By Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe

The Exquisite Book is a project based on the Surrealist game called the Exquisite Corpse. The book is a modified version of the game, played by one hundred contributing contemporary fine artists, illustrators, designers and comic artists.

Irma Boom: Biography in Books

This miniature book contains a complete overview of Irma Boom’s oeuvre, with commentary and more than 450 full colour illustrations in 704 pages with printed edges. Boom is one of the most widely renowned book designers in the world today. The book was designed by Irma Boom for her retrospective exhibition at the The Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam Library.

Boom is known for making tiny models of all her books, which proved inspiration for this tiny book. With text by Mathieu Lommen and notes by Irma Boom.

Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon

Legendary designer and artist Vera Neumann (1907–1993) believed in art’s ability to inspire and enrich lives. An innovator and one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of her time, Vera built her company on a radical philosophy: fine art should be accessible to everyone, not just a select few. Known for her iconic images of cheerful flowers, trendy geometrics, and vibrant ladybugs, she believed people should surround themselves with beauty.

For the first time, Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon, tells her inspiring story through the art and designs she created. In this volume, richly illustrated with Vera’s original sketches, paintings, and photographs of her worldwide travels, readers are introduced to the amazing woman behind the dynamic designs that continue to inspire and influence art, design, and fashion.

Images from Print & Pattern

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Color Masters: Gene Davis's Rhythmic Color

Color Masters: Gene Davis's Rhythmic Color

Check out the Color Barcode Multiblend Generator (see examples here), which creates Davis-like veticle stripe multiblends from up to 99 different palettes from the COLOURlovers library. The generator was created by COLOURlover sero*.

Gene Davis was a member of the group of abstract painters in Washington DC during the 1960s known as the Washington Color School. The Washington group artist were among the most prominent of the mid-century color field painters.

Though he worked in a variety of media and styles, including ink, oil, acrylic, video, and collage, Davis is best known by far for his acrylic paintings (mostly on canvas) of colorful vertical stripes, which he began to paint in 1958. The paintings typically repeat particular colors to create a sense of rhythm and repetition with variations. One of the best-known of his paintings, "Black Grey Beat" (1964), owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum reinforces these musical comparisons in its title. The pairs of alternating black and grey stripes are repeated across the canvas, and recognizable even as other colors are substituted for black and grey, and returned to even as the repetition of dark and light pairs is here and there broken by sharply contrasting colors.

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Cecelia's 'Flowers'

Cecelia's 'Flowers'

"It was really an accident," Cecelia Webber admits in an interview with Modern Luxury, "I shot a nude figure against a black background and thought it looked so much like a petal I just went with it."  And thus started her journey as a professional artist in hopes of dispelling much of the world's view of nudity as either "something erotic or disgusting," as she puts it.

Her work consists of only the naked human body, often her own, photographed in the most peculiar of positions then painstakingly overlaid using Photoshop to form the familiar shapes of petals, stamen and stem. So familiar the shapes are and so acutely formed that at first glance it is hard to tell that you're looking at naked people. Lastly, but always first in our book, she saturates the forms with stunning color. Her work pays great homage to nature: the beauty of the human figure and the shapes and colors that connect all living things.

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Palettes from Ikea's New Cookbook

Palettes from Ikea's New Cookbook

Bet you cool cats haven't seen a recipe visualized in quite this way before, eh? It's new to me too and it's got my mouth a-watering. Ikea's actually behind this delectable book which is called Homemade is Best. It features desserts, all meticulously styled in a way that's completely new to food photography (hat tip to Carl Kleiner for that). Sure, I still want a fat slice of the cake, but now I have so much more appreciation for what goes into it. Makes it seems so much more simple to make, no?

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