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A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good Hardcover – May 12, 2005


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 420L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt (June 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805075755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805075755
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #855,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5-Starting with two circles, one red and one green, symmetrically arranged against a field of white, Gonyea shows how changes in size, shape, and color alter perception. In 10 brief chapters, he covers concepts such as the difference between straight and diagonal lines, the usefulness of using a 1:3:9 design ratio, the clarity of contrast, and the impact of warm and cool colors. One of his strongest examples pits a traditional smiley face against a psychedelic version, reinforcing the subtitle. Less successful is the chapter "Letters Are Shapes Too," in which he pairs some letters with design terms. For example, he states "A is for Angles," but doesn't show or describe what angles are and why they're worth mentioning. By way of conclusion, the author builds a scene with planets and a spaceship, reviewing his major points. His minimalist approach to text and composition makes this book an effective advertisement for his message about the beauty of uncluttered design. It also makes the title accessible to children who are able to grasp the visual impact of formal elements, but are not yet ready to deal with the psychological effects as explored by Molly Garrett Bang in Picture This: How Pictures Work (North-South, 2000). The humorous tone and hands-on approach add to the appeal and usefulness of an offering on an important topic about which little else exists.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Mark Gonyea was born in upstate New York and spent the majority of his childhood consuming cartoons, video games, and monster movies. Little did he realize this was to be the essential groundwork for a career in cartooning and graphic design. He lives in Vermont.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
22%
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See all 9 customer reviews
This was a gift and I know the person liked it.
Faye Harrell
I'm an elementary and middle school art teacher, and I plan to use this book with several of my classes... including my 6th grade in middle school!
artsie mom
This is a great book to teach basic principles of design in a simple, yet understandable way.
Art Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Tiedt on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Book About Design by Mark Gonyea is an attractive, very clearly illustrated quick introduction to some principles of design. A glance at the illustrations would lead one to believe it was a book for young children, however the text, though brief, utilizes vocabulary (intersect, aggressive) and concepts, like ratios, more suitable for older children or adults. I intend to use the book as a quick introduction/ illustration for design concepts with middle school and high school students and think it will work well for that, but if one is looking for in depth discussion, for older students, or suitable vocabulary for younger, this might not be your best bet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Palkovic on March 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an entertainng and deceptively simple presentation of the principles that can be useful for adults as well as for children.

I purchased this book along with Molly Bang's "Picture This" to use as a review of design principles for my college class in research for stage scenic design. The class is concerned primarily with research and not design itself. I was looking for a way to summarize design principles since the course considers design only indirectly. I thought that I would read these two books in one class period in the same way that librarians read picture books to grade school children.

My class loved the book as I read it to them. They laughed and I learned something too. They said that they would never forget the 1-3-9 ratio which is repeated throught the book as a useful graphic tool. They had a good time and their design projects improved.

I am waiting for Gonyea's next book because inspite of the fact that "complicated doesen't make it good", I am still looking for a little more 'complicated'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Fisher on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Not often does one come across a great new design book that would be the perfect holiday, or birthday, gift for your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids or that creative kid of any age you may know. That book is A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make it Good by designer Mark Gonyea. With its bright colors, simple design and easy-to-read text this book would be great for the young artist/designer in your life - especially those of grade school age. Basic principles of design - often forgotten by many in the profession - are presented in a very entertaining manner. I'll be ordering copies for some of the budding designers I know, as well as some of the seasoned pros who will appreciate getting this book in the spirit of the holiday season. What a fun book! - Jeff Fisher, writer of bLog-oMotives and the "Logo Notions" column at CreativeLatitude.com
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By artsie mom on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the best design book I ever read! I stumbled across it at our public library last year... I knew right away it was a book I had to add to my collection! I'm an elementary and middle school art teacher, and I plan to use this book with several of my classes... including my 6th grade in middle school! The book breaks down the rules of creating a good design and a balanced composition so simply, step by step... all of my kids will be able to follow it. With only a few words per page, Gonyea uses the simple illustrations to really get his point across. Most illustrations are simple shapes and colors. At the end of the book he brings together all the elements mentioned earlier and illustrates how all the elements work together to create a balanced composition. This is a must have... great gift even for first year art majors!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good is one of the few books to address basic design issues for young picturebook readers - and its advice and insights should be considered by many an adult, too. Simple lines, shapes, colors and humor explain why complication doesn't equal a good design - and why that fact matters. Pages of merely one or two sentences are accompanied by easy sample pictures to illustrate such basic design concepts as 'change the size of one (in this case increase it) and you lessen the impact of the other'.
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More About the Author

Born in northern New York seven years before I saw Star Wars for the first time. While spending the better portion of my early life watching tv, going to movies and playing video games, little did I realize this was to be the essential ground work for a career in cartooning and graphic design.

I now live and work in Vermont even though I don't ski.

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