Art + Design

Art + Design: Pictorial Webster’s In Your Pocket and Notebook

Leave a comment on guest blogger John Carrera’s post below—one person selected at random will win copies of these two new Pictorial Webster’s items (offer valid in the US and Canada only).

Though it may be the little sister to the bigger Pictorial Webster’s, the recently released Pictorial Webster’s Pocket Dictionary is its own book (I spent over a year laying it out). In addition, I’d like to draw your attention to the Pictorial Webster’s Artist and Writer’s Notebook, published earlier this year, which I’m really thrilled with as well.

I also want to let you in on a contest in which, if you guess correctly, you can win one of the hand-bound copies of Pictorial Webster’s valued at $3,500 plus an invitation to the opening of the show Life’s Work: The Artwork of Tom Phillips and Johnny Carrera. I’m planning the opening to be kind of a fashion show, too, with people wearing my one of a kind silkscreen images that also will be hung on the gallery walls.

The original trade edition of Pictorial Webster’s that came out in 2009 was more of a straightforward translation of a book that took me eight years to print and I’m still binding the 100 or so hand-printed copies. If you aren’t aware of the story behind the original book and want to see what you might win, please check out my little 8-minute video about it.

After the book came out I got a call from Chronicle suggesting that they might want to make a simpler, more affordable version of the book. Chronicle was thinking “gift book.” I didn’t like the idea of just merchandizing my book, but instead of just saying “no,” I took a look at the sample book they had in mind and I realized it would be a fun design challenge to pick the best images from the big book and see what happens in the smaller format.

I started to have a lot of fun with those little numbers accompanying each of the images. I figured I’d already printed numbers that don’t really have any bearing on our reality, so, “What would happen if I found meanings for the numbers?” I came up with 26 different ways of using numbers and each letter of the alphabet has a different numbering system.

One of my favorites is the L’s. L stands for Lilly as in Eli Lilly and the numbers are those found on various prescription drugs. You have probably seen the ad for Lunestra (S193) with the Luna Moth? How about Viagra (VR100)?

You get the idea—25 more letters to figure out and you can win my book and an invite to the MASS MoCA show opening March 23, 2013.

Click here for more on the contest.
The design staff liked these early samples I made for the Pocket version so much they suggested we make not one follow up project, but two!

The idea behind the Pictorial Webster’s Artist and Writer’s Notebook is that you can use the images on each page as a prompt for your writing or build a picture around it somehow. I had the idea of making ghost images in the background of each page as it always bums me out when I give someone a sketchbook or notebook and they say, “Oh, it was so beautiful I just couldn’t stand to make a mark in it.” (I now digress: You know that song “Heaven” by the Talking Heads? It took me YEARS to discover that “Heaven” is the name of a bar… and then I think of the Laurie Anderson song where she talks about walking into the Zig Zag bar… Have you been there? It’s a real place.) Did you follow me? This is what you are supposed to be doing with the journal—free associating and getting excited.

One last thing, if you want to see the hidden image on the back cover of Pictorial Webster’s Pocket Dictionary, peel off the label very carefully to find out what color is your parachute. (Unless you perhaps prefer my “Little Prince with Lever” image by the barcode.)

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