Sketches of A Handmade Revolution: Josh Chen’s Fingerprints

Written by in Inspire

DSC_0721_RGBBy Neenah Blogging Team

“Do you ever get the feeling you’re being duped?”

So opens the 2006 Fingerprint: The Art of Using Handmade Elements in Graphic Design, a labor-of-love conceived, authored and designed by Chen Design Associates in San Francisco. We are duped by computers and gadgets, the book continues, but more importantly, by the false sense of freedom we feel when we simplify our creative processes.

The words and sentiment are those of principal Josh Chen, who penned the book’s introduction. He continues: “Fingerprint is a reminder that in this age of e-gadgets, i-things, and all things high-tech and electronic, there remain some very reliable, non-high-tech tools that can help design reconnect with its audience.”

Fingerprint includes curated pieces from around the world in addition to prosaic musings from industry luminaries. Among the essayists, Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print offers thoughts on why he prefers rotaries to mobiles and why it matters to design, and his explanation is less curmudgeonly than you’d expect.

Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands tells a beautiful story about how an abbreviated name brought her to love letterforms, hand-drawn especially: “things that are made by hand are beautiful by virtue of their irregularity. I see these imperfections as marks of dignity and integrity, and believe that they bear witness to the artist—and the human—in all of us.”

The book has received its due success with publisher HOW Books. Fingerprint No. 2, we’re happy to hear, is forthcoming. To develop an appetite for the book, Neenah provided paper for a series of letterpress cards that promote the upcoming book. They are limited and if you contact your Neenah Paper sales rep you might be fortunate enough to obtain a copy of these beautiful letterpress samples on Crane’s Lettra® Papers manufactured by Neenah Paper.

The sequel  will be published in Spring 2011, with a similar concept and guiding philosophy to the first book. However, Josh says No. 2 offers more in-depth insights, a little behind-the-scenes action for projects and even some interactive elements.

According to Josh, this time around, Debbie Millman writes the foreword, Colin Berry the preface, and Christian Helms, Robynne Raye, Stefan Bucher and Shanan Galligan appear on the top billing. Other contributors to the book include Marian Bantjes, Wink, Taxi Studio, Jason Munn, Wayne Brezinka and Sagmeister. Get your fingers on one as soon as you can. Let these non tactile suffice until you can.

[Note: ® is registered to Crane & Co., Inc.]


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    […] over on the Neenah Paper blog, they’ve just chatted with Josh Chen, author of Fingerprint and the upcoming Fingerprint 2. […]

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    Good Afternoon

    Awesome post, just want to say thanks for the share