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Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist Paperback – September 1, 2000
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From Library Journal
From his introductory notes explaining the book's subtitle, Kalman demonstrates a clear contrariness to the common understanding of the role of graphic design. From window dresser and shopping bag designer of the nascent Barnes & Noble in the 1970s to founder and leader of the award-winning M & Co. design firm in the 1980s to his revolutionary anti-selling aesthetic as founding editor-in-chief at Benetton's Colors magazine, Kalman has sought out roles unfamiliar to him and done them in his own way. This hasn't stopped him from developing one of the best-known and most influential bodies of work in the field. If all this monograph did were to convey this complex personality?as it does in the more than a dozen essays by and interviews with former clients and co-workers?it would be a grand success. But, more than that, it surveys important work from his entire career in more than 600 illustrations, all thoughtfully captioned. Essential for all academic libraries, this addictively browseable tribute is also recommended for larger public libraries.?Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From The New Yorker
"A witty, eclectic tome of images and writings--half catalog, half manifesto."
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Top customer reviews
I'm begining to realize that the true magic behind the work of Tibor is that it's very personal. Tibor's work searches for some human quality inside us that it can appeal to. It relates to us as imperfect, informal human beings. Unlike most design today that is either self-indulgent or polished off and buttoned up, the work in this book seems to have a "come as you are" invitation to it. This was Tibor's gift. This was his major contribution to the work done in this book. As you surf through all 400+ pages you'll see that in the beginning his work was design "having something to sell". But suddenly his work detours and becomes design "having something to say."
The best part about this book is that it brings us inside the minds of all the people Tibor worked with, worked for (clients) and worked against. The eye opener is that their was a lot of pain that went into the production of this work. You learn that Tibor's passion became a blessing and curse for those he colloborated with. But you begin to learn that these "mistakes, misunderstandings and mis-comprehensions" are often an unexpected ingredient in producing fresh and interesting work.
I encourage this book to anyone who wants to see a new perspective on graphic design and the industry. But more importantly, it's a motivation for us to re-evaluate our own perspective on the industry.
Here is a designer that realized that everything should not look neat, polished, and bland- reflecting what every corporate machine thinks is "tasteful". The designer has a responsibility to add flair, artistic integrity and originality into his/her work. That means punch, depth, grit, irony- everything that we used to see in advertising before MTV and online megastores.
Today's web designers often copy the latest "polished" style in an attempt to look professional, and garner more clients. That's why so much of the web looks alike right now. I even admit that I look back on old designs and wonder if I designed something because I liked it- or if I knew that the client would like it.
This book helps to shake forth the notion that we can propel design (even on the web) both artistically and commercially, forward with social and political integrity! Buy this book.
Do not be fooled: this book goes beyond the cult of the author's personality; it shows brief, concept and ways of thinking which are useful to everyone, not only designers and students.
Although I knew it from the beginning, in the end I had tears in my eyes, because this man was gone and could no longer make our world a better place.