Top positive review
38 people found this helpful
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Prepare For the Hands-On Approach
on January 5, 2007
Simply put, this book is an inspirational visual feast. If you're longing to incorporate the handmade in your work or are simply looking for something to kickstart your creative juices, FINGERPRINT is the perfect addition to your design library. Forget the slick and the mass-produced and dive headfirst into pages full of beautiful photography, innovative design, and an accessible layout.
Put together by Chen Design Associates, an award-winning San Francisco firm, and published under the HOW Books label, FINGERPRINT makes a good first impression with a simple but tactile cover that invites you to pick the book up and turn it over in your hands before cracking it open. The book has a good weight, as do the pages, though the paper finish seems to be prone to marking against hard edges. Inside, the text is divided into an Introduction, Foreword, seven chapters (Lettering, Illustration, Mixed Messages, Grand Finale, Objet D'Art, Indelible Impressions, and (a very brief) Gallery), and a Directory of Contributors which includes the contact information for the designers and firms featured within. Scattered throughout the text are five essays from a variety of designers including Jim Sherraden of Hatch Show Print and Martin Venezky. Some of these are more interesting than others (Ross MacDonald's "Hollywood Handmade" provides insight into the business of creating authentic design-related props for television and film), but all are worth reading.
The design of the book itself is excellent and conveys FINGERPRINT's concept without going overboard. The type is restrained and there is a clear hierarchy within the descriptions on each page, but don't think for a moment that it's boring. On the contrary, due to interesting typefaces and structure, the descriptions in FINGERPRINT are some of the most readable of any design book save for one failing: on some pages where the displayed works are vertical, the descriptions rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise, necessitating a rotation of the book as well if you want to read the text. However, this is a small qualm when weighed against the book's many well-executed details.
The work itself - the real meat of FINGERPRINT - is generally outstanding. One might think that a majority of "handmade" design would feel the same, but the pieces showcased in the book display a range of aesthetics and execution, and there's something to be learned from almost every one. Almost all of the descriptions include the materials used for the designs, so it's possible to get an idea of the effort that goes into each piece and perhaps even provides a jumping-off point for those interested in exploring a similar style. (And in some cases the design transcends the media so much so that you'll be left scratching your head, saying "They did that with WHAT?")
There's a good representation of formats within FINGERPRINT. Featured designs range from stationery suites to posters to promotional mailers to packaging and beyond, so there's something for everyone. And the nature of the work is such that you'll find yourself thumbing through the pages again and again just to notice a plethora of new details to digest.
FINGERPRINT is more than just eye candy, though - it's motivation. Inspiration. If you don't like getting your hands dirty, then maybe this book isn't for you. But if you love the hands-on approach, your fingers will be itching to pick up a pen or a pencil and just draw (or paint, or collage, or...) after you've skimmed through the book. See, absorb, and incorporate. Go create some fresh design.
Prior to picking FINGERPRINT up at the store, I'd neither heard nor seen anything about it and figured it was simply an overlooked design gem. But it won't be a secret much longer because the newest issue of HOW (naturally, given the book's publisher) has a feature on it and includes some of the pieces from the book. Handmade is back, and it's beautiful. Do yourself and your brain a favor and pick this book up!