“There is no humanity in the state. What runs the world is economics and politics, and they have nothing to do with the spiritual life. So we are left with this void. It is the job of the artist to create the new myths. Myths come from the artists.”

— Joseph Campbell, interviewed by Chris Goodrich in Publisher’s Weekly (1985)

“Walden is the only book I own, although there are some others unclaimed on my shelves. Every man, I think, reads one book in his life, and this is mine. It is not the best book I ever encountered, perhaps, but it is for me the handiest, and I keep it about me in much the same way one carries a handkerchief-for relief in moments of defluxion or despair.”

— E.B. White, “Visitors to the Pond”

“The result may feel good and empowering, but it also creates the distorted impression that an individual’s good work, alone, will translate to a proportional reward. Conversely, failures stemming from other factors—like ingrained structural prejudice or simply bad timing—may too easily be misattributed to an individual’s lack of commitment, failure to work hard enough, or insufficient love-doing. A culture of self-help advice fosters a belief that we exist in a pure meritocracy, where everything is fair, and that our shared work of shaping an equitable community is done.

This is not the world we live in.”

— Kelli Anderson, The Price of Advice (via)

“Some designers have a personal signature, and if you hire them it’s because you want to make it look their way, but for you. I’m not like that. I use the metaphor of a doctor. I want sick patients that I can diagnose and give a prescription to.”

— Michael Bierut (via)

“I asked myself, why is the first work of a writer, of a screenwriter, a playwright, almost always a success? Because he still belongs to an audience. The more he goes away from the audience, the more he loses contact, and what I tried to do my whole life was not to lose contact with the audience.”

— Fritz Lang (via)

Mendelsund Marketing

Some Twitter thoughts from Peter Mendelsund that indirectly tie in to his discussion of marketing directives on ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” from his excellent book, “Cover” (which is where the below image is from).

Whenever I hear that someone in my field has been asked (told) to design a book jacket that looks like some other, preexisting jacket…told to ape a previously successful title, or a “genre look” (and this is increasingly how we are directed) I think to myself…there’s a word which describes when a thing is designed to look like those things which surround it, and that word is “camouflage”…being a tool (or in nature, an inherent characteristic) for when one wants something not to be found; remain hidden; like-amongst-like.

What prompted this rant was something a colleague just told me about. This designer (who is arguably one of the best book cover designers in the biz) was just told to make a cover for a new crime novel “grittier, you know, more like ‘crime’…” i.e. imitate some gawdawful cliches and hit all the signifiers…

And this designer said something smart to me, which is, “They’ve just robbed themselves of the chance to have a jacket others will want to imitate.”

By the way, I recall the same things (needing a “crime look”) being said to me regarding my cover for ‘Dragon Tattoo’ (not that this is exemplary design or anything, but it’s nice to have that ole counter example on hand…)


“The art department became the whipping boys, because if a book didn’t sell, if the editor had made a mistake, if the marketing people hadn’t pulled their finger out, if they had pulled it out in the wrong direction, they could always say, ‘Sorry, it was the cover, it was never the book, it was never anything else.’ So you got lots of flack in spite of the fact that they had all in a democratic way sat around a table and said, 'Yes, we’ll go with that.’”

David Pelham