Book Design

More than 100 book covers design as well as interior page layout design.

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Editorial Design

From cover to cover, more than 10 years of experience designing for periodicals.

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Creative solutions for your communications

From ad designs to brochures to direct mail campaign to plastic bags, if it can be printed or designed I can make it happen.

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Cube bookshelf installed

Received a request for a cube bookshelf to fit under a living room window. The plan was to create two, matching cube bookshelves. The first cube bookshelf was completed back in July. I posted about it here.

The second shelf took longer to complete…

Now the bookshelves are installed.


The next project is to design and make two vertical cube bookshelves to bookend these.

The final page


The final page of a sketchbook is a peculiar geography. It is the end of one continent of ideas and sketches. Familiar paths mapped with notes and drawings and paintings and sketches and receipts from coffee houses and beer coasters from bars and other odd ephemera. Some pages contain recipes and calendar appointments and mailing addresses and other personal notes.

This book spans a decade. And ends with a sketch of a piano and violin concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. The first pages is a crude Sharpie® marker sketch of a bus station in North Carolina.

Good design is subtractive

“Design that communicates efficiently is typically more subtractive than additive.”[1][2][3]

[1] Maybe I should have retitled this post, “Good design is subtractive. Or why I insist on footnoting blog posts.”
[2] On April 9, 2014 I discovered the clever design quote (see above) via @sheepmeetswolf on twitter,!/sheepmeetswolf/status/174587072189964288.
As a practice, I placed the quote as a draft in WordPress to review later.  Sometimes, I notice intriguing internet sparkly thingies and think these items may be of interest to readers of this blog. Rather than posting the quote, comment or idea immediately, I usually wait awhile and see if it is still relevant after a week, month or longer. Sometimes much longer. As you may have noticed already, the @sheepmeetswolf twitter link leads to  a deleted or missing account. Such is the case with a lot of web links. Source material disappears from the internet for one reason or another. So, a few years ago I began the habit of footnoting referenced material with a source citation and hyperlink. That way, if a blog disappears from the face of the blogosphere or a twitter account is deleted from the twitterverse, there is still a record that at some point in time and space I accessed the information and shared it with you. For example, the following source is for you to enjoy as it loosely relates to the @sheepmeetswolf quote.
[3] Maria Popova, “Austin Kleon on 10 Things Every Creator Should Remember But We Often Forget,” Brain Pickings, accessed August 9, 2016,

Singular possessive or plural possessive


Do people still diagram sentences?[1] Is writing still important in business?[2] [3] [4] These thoughts came to mind after a colleague asked about a client’s ad copy. She read a sentence to me, and I listened.

“Does that sound correct?” she asked.

“Depends,” I answered. “Is the word singular possessive or plural possessive?”

She showed me the ad copy on her screen. The sentence went something like this:

The insurer provides health care for the company’s and employee’s best interest.

The conversation went on for a bit on the topic of whether or not the client intended that the word “employee’s” be singular possessive. It made sense to us that a company would be singular. But would a company have a single employee? A quick survey of other colleagues revealed that they didn’t know what we were talking about. In fairness to the other colleagues, it was a very busy day at the office and they may have politely feigned ignorance as to return to their tasks.

The challenge of the ad copy provoked other thoughts on the necessity of good writing skills in a business and professional setting. Think before you write. Write well and your thoughts will effectively communicate your message.

[1] JUANA SUMMERS, “A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences,” NPR, August 22, 20147:18 AM, accessed July 28, 2016,
[2] Carolyn O’Hara, “How to Improve Your Business Writing,” Harvard Business Review, NOVEMBER 20, 2014, accessed July 28, 2016,
[3] Joyce E.A. Russell, “Career Coach: Are writing skills necessary anymore?,” Washington Post, May 22, 2011, accessed July 28, 2016,
[4] Susan Adams, “8 Keys To Better Business Writing,” Forbes, JAN 18, 2013 @ 10:08 AM, accessed July 28, 2016,
[BONUS] Annie Holmquist, “Almost 1 in 3 Americans Didn’t Read a Book Last Year,” Intellectual Takeout, October 19, 2015, accessed July 28, 2016,

Afternoon walk


Somedays a walk to the river is a remedy. Amid the ruckus of urban construction projects, the drone of downtown automobile traffic, and the labor of knowledge work[1], small urban spaces provide much needed havens. I grab a sketchbook, a cup of coffee[2] and 30-minutes beside the river after an afternoon walk.

[1] The first time I read the term knowledge worker was in a book by Tom Peters. He may have acquired the term from Peter Drucker.
[2] There is a great coffeeshop, Colectivo, in the Third Ward near the Public Market that I like to visit.

Anatomy of print advertising

Very excited about a mentoring opportunity with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee this afternoon. Last October I volunteered and really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience of graphic design with the students.

Here are my notes on the five basic elements of a print advertisement.

  1. Headline
  2. Subhead
  3. Body copy
  4. Visuals
  5. Layout

A print ad includes other components (like, color, shape, logo, etc.), but these five elements are foundational to print advertising.

A page from the history of graphic design

There was a time — somewhere around the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods of graphic design — when all pre-press art files were saved to a 250 MB Zip disk, packed into a Fed-Ex overnight envelope and delivered to a Fed-Ex pick location.

Working for a weekly newsmagazine, I was the last person to see that package and its digital content before it travelled 384 miles to the press that printed the periodical.

On one occasion I had to deliver the package to the airport due to a late breaking election story. That was before Adobe Photoshop CS arrived. And sometime between versions of QuarkXPress 4 and QuarkXPress 5.

The magazine introduced a virtual private network (VPN) in 2003. This linked the headquarters with various national offices as well as the press that printed the publication.

Soon Zip disks became novel items that were relegated to the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. Like the extinction of the Neanderthals, the Zip disk has completely disappeared from all graphic design and print production today.

To make a cube bookshelf


Because she asked for a bookshelf, I built one. A simple cube bookshelf was the plan. Nothing fancy. Something simple and useful. Something to fit under the window.


To begin with, I visited the local lumber shop for 1″x12″s and 1″x2″ pine boards. Also, I picked up some screws and finishing nails. Already had wood glue, left over wood stain and finish in the garage.


If I was a master craftsman, I would have made the shelf without screws and nails. Due to lack of equipment (like a proper workshop with a bunch of clamps, a router, and maybe a tenon jig) and time (the ever elusive weekend commodity), dado joint shelves were replaced with two-inch screws and Gorilla® Wood Glue. The only power tools used were a cordless drill/driver, a sander and a jig saw.


After everything was glued, screwed and sanded, wood stain was selected. The Minwax can of espresso stain was half full, and was sufficient to cover the bookshelf. The stain dried quickly, but I let it dry overnight to let it set.


Two coats of wood finish completed the project. The bookshelf was installed in our living space with a vase of roses atop it.

Request for a companion cube bookshelf arrived. More wood was purchased and cut. Request for bookshelf with a honey-colored stain finish followed. A quart of Minwax wood stain was purchased. And so on.

Template layout for a children's book

This crude sketch is quite popular. A reader commented recently how the layout template helped his poetry book project.[1] The web site Moving Writers[2] posted “A Collaborative Writing Study That Will Rock Your Students’ World: Children’s Literature”[3] and linked to my rough layout template.

The origin of the drawing began at a local meet-up of illustrators and artists. The topic of children’s books came up. Several of the artists felt intimidated by the idea of creating a children’s book. As well they should. But it is not a path of labyrinthian impossibility. The big question is how to do it. At the time, I was a creative director for an international publishing company and had designed children’s books — specifically, picture books.

To encourage these artists and writers, here is a general anatomy of a children’s book:

  • 22 illustrations (five spreads)
  • 18 pages of text (51 lines to be specific) and
  • 32 pages (including title pages, front matter and back matter)
  • intro story and character on page four
  • intro dilemma on page 14
  • how to solve problem (pages 15 to 23)
  • problem solved on page 24 and
  • resolution on page 28

Several artists that night asked to take a photo of this sketch of an anatomy of a children’s book with their smart phones. Since then, several readers have expressed similar interest. So, I share this sketch again.

Like all recipes, what you do with the ingredients (i.e. text, words and pages) is up to the artist and writer. And, like any good disclaimer, results do very.

[1] “Anatomy of a children’s book,”, December 10, 2012, accessed June 20, 2016
[2] Moving Writers, accessed June 20, 2016
[3] Allison Marchetti, “A Collaborative Writing Study That Will Rock Your Students’ World: Children’s Literature,”, May 30, 2016, accessed June 20, 2016

Best intentions


The intent was to watch the sun set and watch full, strawberry moon rise on the summer solstice.[1] But I fell asleep and awoke after 1 a.m. — cloudy, nighttime pondering of lessons in risk management.[2] A few hours later, I watch the light brighten the room[3] as I prepare for a morning walk.

[1] Bob Berman, “Summer Solstice Full Moon in June!,” The Old Farmer’s Almanac, accessed June 20, 2016
[2] Gregory Orr, “Farther’s Song,” Academy of American Poets, accessed June 20, 2016
[3] Charles Simic, “Secret History,” The Writer’s Almanac, June 19, 2016, accessed June 20, 2016