Sunday, August 29, 2010

New 10-year Anniversary Website

Justin Kropp is redesigning my website. It needs it, desperately. I've had this website for over ten years now, and I've designed all the past iterations. You can tell. So finally a real website designer who knows what he's doing is giving my site a serious overall. There will be an online store with shopping-cart technology, all new photos and text, and little things like constantly updated blog posts and Tweets and whatever else Justin's got up his sleeve. I will be putting new products to buy online as well. I hope to include a couple new posters and possibly even a new book, but we'll see. First things first. The new website cometh shortly....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Essay at Voice, Audio Interview for Australia Radio

It's been nearly six months since I published a design essay at Voice (or anywhere else). I've been teaching and lecturing and trying to write a novel. So here's an essay at Voice, finally. I derived and edited "
The Mind Moves the World" from the last section of a 45-minute lecture. I've given the lecture twice, and I keep editing it.

Also, Alan Saunders of ABC Radio in Australia interviewed me on his design program. They called the interview, "
Design as Thinking, and Design as Literature." It's available online, and it's short, less than fifteen minutes, I think.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I designed the cover (with photos by Lauren Vallese) and the interior of the New Jersey Literary anthology What's Your Exit? The first run has already sold out. You can preorder from the next run at a discount at Word Riot Press. It's 326 pages, 6x9, $25 retail, discounted to $20 from Word Riot. Contributors: Robert Pinsky, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Perrotta, J. Robert Lennon, Alicia Ostriker, Gerald Stern, Jason Biggs, James Hoch, Louise DeSalvo, and on and on. Big book, good deal, all NJ, all the time. And, yes, the bar code is in the shape of New Jersey.

SVA D-Crit Lecture Now Online

David Barringer, “Design As Literature: The Changing Shape of the Novel” from D-Crit on Vimeo.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Barringer Update: Lectures, Travel, Book

Here's an update of things I'm doing and nice things people have said about the book.

1. I'm teaching a
senior-thesis class at MICA this term. I visit for the last time on April 18. It's been wonderful. I have probably overwhelmed the students.

2. I lecture as part of the
D-Crit lecture series in NY on April 20. I'll be in NYC through April 25.

3. I do a studio visit at
NC State in Raleigh, NC, on May 4.

4. I visit
Living Arts College in Raleigh, NC, on May 5, for studio visits and a talk.

5. "Finally, I've finished reading
There's Nothing Funny About Design. First copy went to someone in Istanbul, second one went to Canada, but I hung on to the third one and read it with a big smile on my face. The reading was a truly pleasurable experience. It is unlike any design book on the market. Without being didactic, it taught me more than many of the design books out there. Your writing shines. I felt like I was reading a book of stories. Great stuff."—Faruk Ulay

6. "I highly recommend this to anyone who considers themselves creative. Being a designer, I’m a sucker for visuals and rarely have time to sit down and read a book that has no images. I’m currently half way through this book, and I really encourage designers to read about design instead of always looking at pretty pictures."—
Design Milk

7. "Dave Barringer’s
There’s Nothing Funny About Design is twice as good as most experimental creative nonfiction lyric whatchamacallits."—Daniel Nester, Pank

8. Please check out this nice handwritten blog, and nice
handwritten note about the book, at "Designer's Library."

9. "
There’s Nothing Funny About Design: Essays that are sometimes about design but always laugh-out-loud hilarious by design’s greatest contemporary wit, David Barringer."—Alissa, Gelatobaby

10. "Barringer is a freelance author, graphic designer and artist, and this collection of his essays reveals the ubiquitous influence of visual design on our everyday lives. Written for fellow designers and artists, these pieces analyze the design aspects of everything from the product names of prescription drugs to evolution and the shape of the human skull. The author uses generous helpings of humor as well as illustrations and photographs to support his observations."—
Book News Inc.

11. "Few writers can speak about graphic design with the alacrity and sharp-tongued criticism of the self-taught David Barringer. This collection of essays on everything from the letter X to DVD covers bristles with energy and metaphoric prose."—Brian Fichtner,
Cool Hunting

12. "Barringer devotes Part I to these often quirky essays and articles, while Part II offers a wry self-help guide, namely the
Live Well Now! Brainbook, designed to enhance 'identity science,' which Barringer notes is at once 'grammatically awkward but scary effective.' The spoof includes charts, graphics and a self-acceptance certificate, as well as a section on design of the self, all of it pointing to Barringer’s rich imagination. The third section is yet another spoof, sort of, in this case rekindling the form of the rulebooks from the past, including Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac; the guide ostensibly directs young designers through sections on temperament, penmanship, collaboration, clients and so on, but again achieves something else indirectly, in this case performing a curious form of commentary through humor."—Holly Willis

13. "David Barringer is surely one of our best and funniest writers on design. He talks with Rich Fisher about his collection of essays,
There's Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press), which critically examines everyday design from the 'promiscuousness of the letter X in our culture,' to how the cautionary colors of red and yellow have been adopted by the fast food industry, to how evolution is portrayed with fish symbols and the ape-to-man chart."—Rich Fisher, Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS

14. Other interviews: at
Design Observer, AIGA Charlotte, and 36 Point.

15. And here are some
customer reviews: "an outstanding survey of a wide range of design puzzlers perfect for any general or college-level library strong in arts and design";

"shows designers and non-designers (whichever you may be) why and what design means to him, and in the end, you see it in a fresh light yourself";

"I put this in the same category as Miranda July's
Learning to Love You More and Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story";

"Barringer combines his unique brand of humor and appreciable perspective in a way that gave this outsider a fascinating view into the world of design";

"an original and seriously funny take on design...there's enough solid wisdom here to engage an experienced designer and enough wit to keep a non-designer happy";

"one of the best design books out there...his prose is well crafted and elegant";

"David Barringer is that rare species in our (often provincial) United States of America: a Renaiassance man. His mind goes in many directions; and his imagination connects what he finds in in original ways. The fact that he writes down the resulting thoughts is a gift to us all. His book
There's Nothing Funny About Design tackles the issue in a fresh, quirky and irreverent way. He challenges the reader to stretch his or her mind, but never condescends to his audience. We could use more barrier-busting books like this."

The book is available at any online bookseller. Gratzi.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Trip to MICA Moved to Valentine's Day Weekend

Because of the snowstorm on the East Coast, I moved my trip to MICA to Sunday, Feb. 14, through Monday, Feb. 15. Happy Valentine's Day, Baltimore.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Barringer in Baltimore 2/7 and 2/8 at MICA

So this weekend, I'm off to teach at MICA, in Baltimore, for the first of three visits as a visiting critic. The course is taught by Ellen Lupton, and it's called Thesis Writing and Research.

"In this three-credit Critical Studies course for graphic design graduate students in their thesis year, a prominent design writer will work with students on shaping the content, message, and written component of their thesis work. This will be achieved through a combination of on-campus visits and online feedback on written and visual work. Class meetings will combine group critiques, individual meetings, and discussion of readings."


I also travel to Nashville on February 19. I'll be speaking at Lipscombe University.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sadly, a magazine ends. Farewell to I.D. The oldest design magazine in the country, it was 55 years old. It was one of the few design magazines I wrote for, at least when Julie Lasky was editor. Julie and several other editors wisely jumped ship last year amid increasing cuts in staff and budget. I reconnected with editors there recently and was in the middle of writing an article on the trend in the creative use of paper in art and design. I haven't heard from them in a while, and this would explain why. I can already hear the e-stampede of mid-article freelancers sending their ill-fated I.D. stories to AIGA's Voice and Design Observer; I will likely be one of them. I always loved the elegant layout of I.D., how all that white space increased the importance of what they included. Now, it's all white space.... Hopefully they'll archive all back issues online.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where to Buy Barringer Books

People have been asking where they can buy my books. It varies a bit. You can always check my website, type my name into Amazon or Powells, or even email me directly. Otherwise, here's a quick list of links for each book.

There's Nothing Funny About Design ($18-25): Amazon, Powells, Barnes & Noble, Princeton, Chronicle. It's even in some bookstores, like Barnes & Noble.

American Home Life ($12): new copies at Powells, from me, and from the publisher; other copies through resellers at Amazon.

Johnny Red ($7-16): Amazon, Powells, the publisher, and me.

What Happened to Us These Last Couple Years? ($20): Powells, and me here and here.

Opium Magazine: current issue 9 and back issues at Opium; Opium 3 at Amazon; back issues 3, 5 and 6 from me.

Unbound ($25 or $4.99): This is the book on the future of the legal industry, with info here; purchase it through the publisher; at Amazon in hardcover or Kindle; can also get a signed copy from me.

7. The Dead Bug Funeral Kit ($20): there are only five left, available through

American Mutt Barks in the Yard: Emigre 68: This is pretty much sold out. New and used copies are at Amazon. They are expensive. A few pages of American Mutt are reprinted in Emigre 70, a best-of collection (see post below). That's at Amazon and Emigre.

We Were Ugly So We Made Beautiful Things ($7-8, Kindle $2.50): Amazon, Powells, Barnes and Noble, Word Riot.

The Leap and Other Mistakes ($10-35): I took this out of print way over a year ago, but for some reason you can still find new (and of course used) copies at Alibris, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble. I don't get any royalties for these, so I don't know what's going on.

11. Other stuff, like the Writer's Specimen, Picasso Plates, postcards, posters, and more, can be had through me at
my site.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moon Ring

Tonight, December 1, a ring surrounded the moon. Turns out it's common. Moonlight (sunlight bouncing off the moon) is refracted by ice crystals in the atmosphere, which focuses the light into a ring.

Emigre 70

It's crazy lovely that my contribution to Emigre, American Mutt Barks in the Yard: Emigre 68, sits atop the stack on the back cover of the new Emigre 70. It's the "Look Back" issue, a 512-page best-of volume of Emigre magazine. It's an amazing book (it's on my gift list), and it's surreal that my little bright-blue book is right there on the back. (An excerpt is in the big book, too.) I think my Emigre 68 is like the drum solo when the rest of the band takes a breather and gets a drink before they come out and close the concert with the anthem of Emigre 69, the last issue. Then, in the darkness and the applause, the band returns for the grand-finale encore of Emigre 70, a remixed crowd-pleaser of greatest hits. Put 70 on your gift list.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Interview, New Book Kudos

There's Nothing Funny About Design was included in I.D. Magazine's roundup of contributors' books in their November issue. Alissa Walker, a writer and blogger (at, has a shot of the I.D. page here, as well as a super nice comment about yours truly:

There’s Nothing Funny About Design: Essays that are sometimes about design but always laugh-out-loud hilarious by design’s greatest contemporary wit, David Barringer."

Nothing Funny
also received a quick mention in How Magazine's October issue: "Fresh and funny essays from the winner of the 2008 AIGA Winterhouse Award for design writing."

My interview with Nate Voss of Omaha is available at 36 Point. Here's their intro:

"We got word that
David Barringer was coming through Omaha to judge the AIGA Nebraska Show, and jumped at the chance to talk with him. Well, I ended up being in LA at the time, so I had Steve Gordon step in for me on this one (which was a good decision, because the recording is a hoot). Besides discussing his Bug Kit and new book, There's Nothing Funny About Design (with a cover by Felix Sockwell), the discussion ranges from Emigre, Chuck, the difference between stealing and an homage, service vs. commodity, Shogun Warriors and other random topics. Buried in the conversation is also great advice on getting freelance writing, design business models, clients and a mention of David Barringer's article on top hats."