Category Archives: Things I’m reading

A little light winter reading: “Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire”

Often, I really like a book that I’m reading. And, I like nerding out and talking about it. No one else that I know has yet read Amanda Foreman’s biography of Georgiana Cavendish (née Spencer) Georgiana, Duchess Of Devonshire. Engaging, painstakingly researched and oftentimes this is a bittersweet look at one woman who represented many women, and men (!) both literally and figuratively in the 18th C. & early 19th C Britain.

Georgiana was a bright, lively, smart and amazingly energetic woman interested and talented in writing, politics, and science. She was able to press forward despite some of the constrictions on women’s participations in professional and / or esteem in these arenas. It’s also stunning to see how fragile the balances of power can be in one of the world power governments was at the time, and their reactions to Revolutions happening in and all around Britain at the time. Revolution had taken place once again in Britain in 1688, and a century later the country was still grappling with Regency vs. Constitutional governance, as Ireland, The United States, and France fell into full-scale and violent revolutions and nation-making, and un-making all at once.

Sometimes, through certain biographies or stories, you get a clear sense of how wasteful discrimination whether based on gender, race, sexual or religious orientation, and the like, can be when you see with such clarity talent subdued and held back. In this case, the discrimination was based on in Georgiana’s gender. Yet despite the restrictions of her time, Foreman shows the huge direct influence that Georgiana had on the politics and government in her lifetime. It’s actually astonishing.

I do have to say, the fact that the movie “The Duchess” claims to be based on this book a trifle confusing, as some of the pivotal moments in Georgiana’s life are nowhere to be found here. And in some cases, that’s relieving. However, there are other events in her life not in the film that are just as brutal and tragic, and she cuts a fair and nostalgia-worthy figure for sure from her remaining letters and historical remnants about her.

Aside from the times of her life both public and private, there is another almost unbelievable world at work as well in her story. A famous beauty, it was often noted that she was loved & adored by every man but her husband. This seems like no exaggeration. Entering into marriage with the 5th Duke of Devonshire as a young and lively romantic, she soon found the realities of her new rank quite a life unexpected. Not the least of which was the Duke’s relationship with Georgiana’s best friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster who eventually came to live with them in a very complicated and tumultuous 3-person marriage. Menage a trois seems to be inaccurate, as it reflects a more sexually based fling. What the Cavendishes & Foster created and lived in was something far more emotional, political and complex. This publicly known living situation, while scandalous to a large degree, and mysterious to all including the Duke, Duchess and Bess (as she was known), it was their lifelong arrangement. It lasted through thick, thin, and even legitimate and illegitimate children throughout the extended family until the end of each of their lives.

Georgiana’s life was enmeshed with the politics of her time in a complex way the same as her private home life was enmeshed with friendship, duty, and marriage. She fell in love with Charles Grey (namesake to the tea flavor, Earl Grey) while working closely with the Whigs and the Prince of Wales (later George IV). Her lifelong lifelong friendships with both men endured many bitter times, including becoming pregnant by Grey, and the subsequent birth and fostering out Georgiana’s beloved illegitimate daughter to Grey’s extended family. Of her many heart breaks, her relationship with Grey was her greatest. It’s quite a shame that she didn’t live to see him become the Prime Minister of England, an achievement that she would have been thrilled by.

It’s also interesting, though really no surprise at all that Georgiana Cavendish was Princess Diana‘s great-great-great-great-great-aunt, in many ways. Hard not to draw comparisons, surely.

I’d recommend this for anyone, though particularly those interested in history, the history of the Whig party, 17th C. politics & Britain, as well as women of that era, women’s history, and just a good compelling biography.

Portrait of Georgiana, by Sir Thomas Gainsborough, 1783. My favorite portrait of her.

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“Naïve: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design”, aka I can’t believe I’m in this book (!)

This year is rich with books celebrating and exploring current graphic design, screenprinting and the vibrant hands-on design processes. The newest book that I’m beyond in love with is Naive:  Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design. And I am thrilled and honored to have a selection of my posters in this book with an amazing collection of ridiculously talented artists from around the globe.

Published by the German art & design publishing & curration house Gestalten, they describe this beautiful book best:

“Naïve documents the extraordinary renaissance of Classic Modernism, from the 1940s to 1960s, in contemporary graphic design. This compilation introduces a new wave of young designers who are rediscovering the stylistic elements reminiscent of classic graphic design such as silkscreen printing, classical typography, hand lettering, woodcutting and folk art and integrating them into their work. Inspired by 20th Century American legends such as Saul Bass, Charley Harper and Alexander Girard, the burgeoning designers and their work showcased this in this book are inspiring, ranging from illustrations, poster art, editorials, book covers and record sleeves to stationary and textiles.”

Naïve is a seriously stunning book filled with jaw-dropping illustration and design work at every turn of the page. No foolin’. Naïve is available at Gestalten’s website, or Amazon, and book sellers near you.

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Gig Posters Volume 1: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century, new book!

It has finally arrived!

Gig Posters Vol. I book, chock full of 101 poster artists

Gig Posters Vol. I book, chock full of 101 poster artists

Freshly published and totally incredible. I’m so proud to be a part of this rad book, as is taken from the imaginations of, and containing the work and words of 101 working, contemporary and kickass rock poster artists from around the globe. All compiled into a nifty book format. Just for you! Each poster artist talks about their work, influences and process as well as providing a full page format, perforated page tear-out poster. It’s a lot of awesome, and not just because I’m in it. In fact, I would venture to say despite the fact that I’m in this book.

Published just this May, you can now find this fantastic book at booksellers everywhere. Or, you can order a copy from the following websites:

Directly from me, at my website here, NOTE: personalized and autographed by me, just for you, with a bonus set of stickers, over 15 designs in all.

Directly from the author at Gigposters.com here. NOTE: BONUS ART PRINTS (While Supplies Last!!):
Order now from GigPosters.com and receive an exclusive limited edition screenprinted art print by Jay Ryan! Jay has created 3 different 10″x13″ art prints for the book release. The first 900 orders get free art prints! (300 of each) *Order the 3-pack to assure you get one of each art print!*

Directly from the publisher, at Quirk Books here.

Directly from the publisher, at Chronicle Books here.

Publisher’s description: 11×14 inches, paperback, 208 pages.

Since 2001 Gigposters.com has been the Internet’s first and best resource for rock-show poster art; their massive online database showcases more than 90 000 posters from 7 000 different designers including all of today’s top poster studios. Gig Posters Volume I highlights the 700+ best examples in their collection including 101 perforated and ready-to-hang posters for bands such as Radiohead Wilco the Decemberists the Shins Arcade Fire Sleater-Kinney and TONS more. Packaged in an oversized 11-by-14-inch paperback, Gig Posters Volume I is a spectacular compilation of rock show art (and one hell of a cheap way to decorate a dorm room or apartment). Author Clay Hayes is the founder and proprietor of Gigposters.com. He lives in Alberta, Canada.

Designers included in Volume I:

3d Glasses, Adam Turman, Aesthetic Apparatus, Alan Forbes, Allen Jaeger, Amy Jo, Andrio Abero, Andy Vastagh, Beyond The Pale, Billy Perkins, Bobby Dixon, Bongout, Brad Klausen, Brian Ewing, Budai, Burlesque of North America, Casey Burns, Cricket Press, Crosshair, Dale Flattum, Dan Grzeca, Dan McCarthy, Dan Stiles, Daniel Danger, Delicious, Denny Schmickle, Diana Sudyka, Dirk Fowler, Drew Millward, Drowning Creek Studio, DWITT, Eleanor Grosch, Emek, Engine House 13, FarmBarn Art Co., Firehouse, Furturtle Printworks, Gary Houston, Gregg Gordon, Guy Burwell, Hero Design Studio, Invisible Creature, Ironforgepress, James Rheem Davis, Jamie Ward, Jared Connor, Jason Goad, Jay Ryan, Jay Vollmar, Jeph, Jermaine Rogers, Joanna Wecht, Johnny Crap, Jon Smith, Josh Rickun, Judge, Justin Hampton, Justin Kamerer, Largemammal Print, Leia Bell, Lil Tuffy, Little Jacket, Lonny Hurley, Lonny Unitus, Luke Drozd, Lure Design, Malleus, Mark Pedini, Mat Daly, Methane Studios, Micah Smith, Michael Michael Motorcycle, Mig Kokinda, Mike King, Nate Duval, Patent Pending, Powerhouse Factories, Powerslide Design Co., Print Mafia, Rob Jones, Ron Liberti, Ryan Nole, Sasha Barr, Scrojo, Seripop, Squad 19, Stainboy, Steve Walters, strawberryluna, Tanxxx, Tara McPherson, The Decoder Ring Design Concern, The Heads Of State, The Little Friends Of Printmaking, The Small Stakes, Thomas Scott, Tim Gough, Todd Slater, Vahalla Studios, Zach Hobbs, Zeloot

Thoughful oversized, yet lap-fitting dimensions of the new Gig Posters Vol. I book.

Thoughful oversized, yet conveniently lap-fitting dimensions of the new Gig Posters Vol. I book by Clay Hayes.

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The Police Cloud, super little book

When I first came across this great little book The Police Cloud by illustrator Christoph Niemann, I was cracking up at my computer. Yes, really. I know, that’s a tad embarrassing.

And yet since then I’ve been a little bit obsessed with this book’s title, story and overall look. The story is adorable, sweet and funny, the illustrations are top notch and a really interesting mix of simple and expressive.  I mean come on, look at him! Fwuffy lil copper cloud who just wants to help people and do right for a living. So awesome. 

The Police Cloud website is also worth checking out too, with a nice little set of animations and sample pages from the book, which is available at Amazon.com.

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Over & Over, Mike Perry strikes again

Mike Perrys book, Over & Over

Mike Perry's book, Over & Over

As if there was any doubt he would, though. Right? 

You may recall that I blogged about the fantastically fun and rad illustrator and hand-drawn-type champion Mike Perry previously last October here when I’d finally started reading his first book Hand Job. Which, I immediately fell in love with. I’m talking within the first paragraph of the introduction. And now I’m encouraging you to check out his most recent book, Over  & Over: A Catalog of Hand-Drawn Patterns. 

Both books embrace the comparative unevenness, fallibility, and beautiful imperfections of drawing things like type and patterns by hand that we all too often just turn over to digital generation-mediums. For me, being a straight-up design nerd, textile design geek and general adorer of pattern and repetition as well as lovely awkwardness, this book is the jimmy AND the jam.

Bree Harrisons work in Over & Over

Bree Harrison's work in Over & Over

Featuring his own work, as well as that of over 50 illustrators and designers, it’s chock fulla awesome. You can buy Over & Over directly from Perry’s website as well as find Hand Job and a million other cool projects, shirts, prints, and radness. Or you can find them both at Amazon (of course) right here and here.

Yoko Shimizu's work in Over & Over

Yoko Shimizu's work in Over & Over

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Gig Posters Volume I, big ol’ awesome BOOK!

Gig Posters Volume I

Gig Posters Volume I: Rock Show Art of the 20th Century

ShaaahhDoink! Gig Posters Volume I: Rock Show Art of the 21st Century is a new book chock full of hot rock postery goodness from current, working poster artists all over the world. And cripes! They let me in too. In the words of Omar: “Indeed.”

Available for pre-order now, published through the super Chronicle Books and Quirk Books. And, just an FYI? If you pre-order through the Gigposters.com website you will receive a bitchin’ extra freebie: an exclusive screenprinted poster from the indomitable Jay Ryan. No foolin’!

Official Description of the book, project and limited edition freebie prints below:

Gigposters.com showcases gig posters, handbills and flyers from around the world. Great for artists, musicians, bands, designers, venues and music collectors. A collection of rock posters and music posters.

Ships April 2009
11 x 14 inches
208 pages
Paperback

Includes 101 perforated and ready-to-hang posters along with hundreds of other poster images and designer biographies. Packaged in an oversized 11-by-14-inch paperback, Gig Posters Volume I is a spectacular compilation of rock show art (and a great way to decorate a dorm room or apartment). 

Designers: 
3d Glasses, Adam Turman, Aesthetic Apparatus, Alan Forbes, Allen Jaeger, Amy Jo, Andrio Abero, Andy Vastagh, Beyond The Pale, Billy Perkins, Bobby Dixon, Bongout, Brad Klausen, Brian Ewing, Budai, Burlesque of North America, Casey Burns, Cricket Press, Crosshair, Dale Flattum, Dan Grzeca, Dan McCarthy, Dan Stiles, Daniel Danger, Delicious, Denny Schmickle, Diana Sudyka, Dirk Fowler, Drew Millward, Drowning Creek Studio, DWITT, Eleanor Grosch, Emek, Engine House 13, FarmBarn Art Co., Firehouse, Furturtle Printworks, Gary Houston, Gregg Gordon, Guy Burwell, Hero Design Studio, Invisible Creature, Ironforgepress, James Rheem Davis, Jamie Ward, Jared Connor, Jason Goad, Jay Ryan, Jay Vollmar, Jeph, Jermaine Rogers, Joanna Wecht, Johnny Crap, Jon Smith, Josh Rickun, Judge, Justin Hampton, Justin Kamerer, Largemammal Print, Leia Bell, Lil Tuffy, Little Jacket, Lonny Hurley, Lonny Unitus, Luke Drozd, Lure Design, Malleus, Mark Pedini, Mat Daly, Methane Studios, Micah Smith, Michael Michael Motorcycle, Mig Kokinda, Mike King, Nate Duval, Patent Pending, Powerhouse Factories, Powerslide Design Co., Print Mafia, Rob Jones, Ron Liberti, Ryan Nole, Sasha Barr, Scrojo, Seripop, Squad 19, Stainboy, Steve Walters, strawberryluna, Tanxxx, Tara McPherson, The Decoder Ring Design Concern, The Heads Of State, The Little Friends Of Printmaking, The Small Stakes, Thomas Scott, Tim Gough, Todd Slater, Vahalla Studios, Zach Hobbs, Zeloot 

BONUS ART PRINTS: 
Pre-order now from Gigposters.com and receive an exclusive limited edition screenprinted art print by Jay Ryan! Jay will be creating 3 different 10″x13″ art prints for the book release. The first 1200 pre-orders get free art prints! (400 of each) *Order the 3-pack to assure you get one of each art print!* (Jay Ryan subscribers will automatically receive copies of the art prints in their subscriptions)

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Hand Job, it’s a BOOK.

Silly. And it is super rad. I might be a little late to the party, but who cares? This book Hand Job, A Catalog of Type is fantastic. 

Author Mike Perry’s enthusiasm in presenting a stunning array of working designers’ hand-drawn type and brief overviews of those same folks work is absolutely contagious. I am obsessed with this book right now and it inspired me to spend an afternoon drawing, doodling and brainstorming at a coffee shop like the dork I am. Happily I had over ten drawings and a big set of fresh ideas for new prints and design solutions.

Chock full of awesome.

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