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Stocking Stuffer Books #1: Fingerprint No. 2

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Holiday Gift Ideas? Give a Book!

Finger Print No. 2 from Chen Design Associates is Tangible Goodness


Get Back — Nearly twenty years after I put it down, I picked up my paintbrush….Suddenly I was painting again. I think the author James Joyce describes this journey best in [his opus] Ulysses: ‘The longest way round is the shortest way home.’” — Debbie Millman The Rigor of Sincerity, Foreward to Fingerprint No. 2


Key Ingredient — It is said that many architects are closet graphic designers the most graphic designers are closet finger-painters. “Listen for the pulse,” advises Josh Chen,  ”which cannot be faked, forged or falsified. Look for the fingerprint. It is the key to design’s success.”


Whodunnit? — Fingerprint No. 2 is the second installment of this excellent series from Chen Design Associates. Like its predecessor it concerns the “evolution of handmade elements in graphic design.” Credit Chen, Laurie Carrigan, Max Spector and Kathrin Blatter.


Reverie — If Fingerprint No. 1 (2006) was a lamentation to the lack of the handmade elements in contemporary design, then F2 is a reverie to the triumphant return of handmade to the mainstream. Craft had married Digital—and they have beautiful children with imperfect teeth and cowlicks. What was rare in 2006  is expected in 2011 — but not “common”.


Muscular— The book is visually and physically imposing, featuring work from around the world that will raise goose bumps of envy or desire. The hefty cover uses ultra-thick chipboard, screen-printed and debossed with foil-stamped library cloth on the spine.

It wasn’t long ago, before Facebook, that friends were folks we wanted to spend time with, not amateur publicists whose every shared thought and pushed opinion made us feel exhausted. — Colin Berry, Embracing Ingredient X, Commentary

If every client opportunity were like one’s own wedding, first birth announcement, parents’ 50th wedding anniversary or child’s bar mitzvah invitation, the world would really be a more beautiful, raffia-wrapped, hand-lettered, letter pressed, 100 cotton rag place.  This book is full of treasure with excellent essays by Colin (Writer/Critic) Berry, Debbie (AIGA Empress) Millman,Robynne (Modern Dog) Raye, Stefan (344 Design), Shanan (Swink, Inc.) Galligan and Christian (Helms Workshop) Helms.


When I started putting the illustration back together again, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the pieces to line up exactly. The copier camera had lens that was constantly going in and out of focus. After my urge to perfect it, I decided that the misalignment made things more interesting so I left it alone. — Robynne Raye, Why the Waxer Stays Warm, Visual Essay


Sometimes there are mistakes that become useful. But hardly ever. ‘Happy accidents’ are a myth. My monsters are no accident. The best ones don’t live in my head. They live in my hands. — Stefan Bucher, Nothing Ever Looks Like It Does in My Head, Visual Essay


Submit Your FingerprintsI’ve never met Shanan Galligan at Swink, Inc., (visual essay pp 34-35) but anyone who sends out die-cut paper campfires with 60s-style weave folding chairs and wieners on a stick to encourage story telling is my friend. Galligan invites readers to submit their own fingerprinted creations to facebook.com/fingerprint2. Finally, Christian Helms, like Robynne Raye, has built his reputation on the hand-wrought fabulous. We close this review with his advice…

“Hand-wrought work has a stronger resonance because, unavoidably, there’s a piece of you in the work. Your quirks, mistakes and heart are all there… evident for everyone to see. And that’s innately beautiful.” — Christian Helms

Bee-You-Tee-Full. Buy the book. Have your way with it. Ravish it. Keep it personal. Care to have a Josh Chen autographed version of F2? Click on this link: Josh Chen autographed copy of Fingerprint 2.

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    Colin Berry said:

    Hi Matt, Thanks for the great review of F2. Just a note — for some reason my website doesn’t open correctly from the link above. You have the URL correct — http://www.colinberry.com — but it opens to a 404 page. Just wanted to let you know.

    Keep making great stuff, everybody! –CB