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 gelatobaby.com), 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."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NTY Book Review & Essay on Design Writing for Students

I have a new book review, entitled "Snow Zone," in the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

I also have a new essay at Voice. It offers writing prompts for design students.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lots to Catch Up On

Listen to my radio interview with Rich Fisher of Public Radio Tulsa.

My lecture at the
Philbrook Museum of Art on August 20 was fantastic. The Philbrook folks know what they're doing. They not only treated me like royalty, they promoted the event like professionals, set up flawlessly the technical aspects of the podium and projector, and handled the book sales perfectly. For every talk I give hereafter, I want the Philbrook treatment.

I was recently
interviewed for the Charlotte AIGA Chapter website.

I recently wrote about the
graphics of motorhomes for Voice, about speaking tips for Voice, and about the Bauhaus and IKEA for Design Observer.

As for press, my book
There's Nothing Funny About Design has been mentioned by James Wolcott in Vanity Fair, by Holly Willis in Voice, and by Brian Fichtner at Cool Hunting.

Writes Willis: "[R]eaders learn from Barringer a particular stance, one that acknowledges the flux of cultural context, and that design invariably entails the often neglected or acknowledged practice of ideological and cultural Frisbee, grabbing an icon and flipping it back, with a good twist. Barringer’s real achievement, then, is laying bare some of the rules of this game in essays that never, ever use words like

Writes Fichtner: "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."

I.D. Magazine is supposed to run a review of the book in an upcoming issue. Stay tuned.

Opium Magazine Issue 8 has garnered press around the world, literally, like in fifteen countries, and TechRadar.com named the cover one of the seven best magazine-cover technical innovations, up there with covers from Time, Wired, Rolling Stone, and Esquire.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Design Talk in Tulsa at Philbrook Museum

Design Talk, Q&A, Book Signing

Lecture Title: "The Mind Moves the World"


Host:Philbrook Museum of Art

Time: 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM Thursday, August 20th

Location: Philbrook Museum of Art

Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 South Rockford Road
Tulsa OK 74114
918 749-7941

Monday, June 22, 2009

1,000-year Opium 8 Cover in the Press

Here is a list of the media coverage given the cover of Opium Magazine, Issue 8. The cover concept is by Jonathon Keats, I designed the issue, and the editor is Todd Zuniga. A new store for purchasing copies at Opium is almost complete.

Daily Heller
The Independent
Inside Catholic
Even in the
Russian press and the Swiss press.

Reading the comments in the Fark thread are like listening to trash talk in the break room at Pet Smart. However, no one in any of the other press outlets has yet taken the opportunity to think very deeply about the cover concept. I was hoping someone would wonder, "What could I write today that would be of interest to someone 1,000 years from now?" The concept challenges our ideas about writing for posterity, about the immortality of art, and about communication to successive generations. If you could communicate to someone a millennium from now, what would you say? "Don't press the red button," or "Duck," or perhaps "We tried."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Design Writing Roundup

Interviewed by Ellen Lupton at Design Observer.

David Barringer’s book, There’s Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) is actually very funny. This collection of new and revised essays presents the graphic design world with a kick in the literary pants. Barringer’s writing is bluntly personal yet rarely narcissistic; his prose often bristles with the excitement of an angry porcupine, yet it’s always grounded in rigorous thinking. No one else in our field is producing writing quite like this. As a self-taught designer, freelance writer, and work-at-home dad, Barringer is both an insider and outsider to the design discourse. He makes sense of what designers do and then takes us apart with his needle-sharp verbal tools. The conversation that follows was conducted via e-mail over a three-day period. "

I'm A Modern Graphic Designer," a poem at Design Taxi.

I’m a modern graphic designer,

Wireless, witty, astute.

I show the world how to see itself.

And all this without a suit.

When The Future Was Young, and the Cars Could Fly," an interview with Brett Snyder at Voice.

arly concept cars were drawn by designers and illustrators who entered the industry as youthful pioneers. Optimistic and in their 20s, they started work in Detroit beginning in the Depression, with a resurgence of activity just after World War II. Think of the guys from Mad Men, but younger and with cars on their minds, drafting in their shirtsleeves in America’s very first styling studios."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'll be in Chicago during Pilcrow May 17-23

The Pilcrow Literary Festival
takes place in Chicago from Sunday May 17 through Saturday May 23. There are events throughout the week, and a full schedule on Saturday, starting with a 9:15 am check-in at Trader Todd's. Check out the full calendar of events here.

Wednesday, May 20
I will be a guest at the Show 'n Tell Show at 7:00 pm at The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee; 773-227-3530). It's free to attend, and the guests will be talking about book design. Guests include Jay Ryan, Paul Hornschemeier, Zach Huelsing & Matt Kessler, and Doug Fogelson.

Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22
Check out the Pilcrow Calendar for events these days. I'll be at these as an attendee.

Saturday, May 23
10:00-10:45 am at Matilda's (3101 N Sheffield Ave; 773-883-4400): Recession Blues: Writers and publishers discuss promoting their work with more creativity than capital. Panelists: David Barringer, Gina Frangello, Leah Jones, Nick Ostdick, Ben Tanzer.

1:00-1:45 pm at Matilda's: The Design Panel: Designers discuss book production and design elements. Moderator: Zach Dodson. Panelists: Sally Alatalo, David Barringer, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Doug Fogelson, Jon Resh.

3:00-3:45 pm at Trader Todd's (3216 N Sheffield Ave; 773-348-3250): The Collaboration Panel: Writers and publishers discuss strategies, mistakes, and successes in collaborative literary efforts. Moderator: David Barringer. Panelists: Amanda Delheimer, Tim Hall, Jason Pettus, Megan Stielstra, Ben Tanzer, Lindsay Tigue, Todd Zuniga.

5:00-5:45 pm at Matilda's: Niches, Tech Writing and Event Coverage:
Panelists offer industry insight as they discuss various approaches to event coverage, niche blogging, and technical writing.
Moderator: Andrew Huff. Panelists: David Barringer, Theresa Carter, Cinnamon Cooper, Tim Jahn.

7:00 pm at Viaduct Theatre (3111 N. Western Ave.; 773-296-6024): Opium's Literary Death Match. The lineup boasts judges T.J. Jagadowski, David Barringer (Opium’s designer) and readers Brian Costello (RUI), Bobby Biedrzycki (2nd Story), Max Glaessner (Windy City Story Slam) and more! Hosted by: Todd Zuniga & Amy Guth. Doors at 7 pm, show at 8 pm. $12 ticket.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unbound: a new book on the future of the business of law

This book was a two-year collaboration between two Davids. David Galbenski conceived the project, defined the trends, and edited many drafts, while I organized, researched, interviewed, wrote, and designed the book. The project changed as the global marketplace changed, especially during 2008 and early 2009. I updated the book with the latest news reports almost daily until we went to press in March. It's about the future of the legal industry, the ongoing transition of the profession of law into the business of law, and the opportunities for entrepreneurs in this area.

The first interesting aspect of this project is that Galbenski, whom I've known since 1995 when I graduated law school, allowed me to write as a journalist. I supported all arguments with research, statistics, and evidence of all kinds, but I kept the language as jargon-free as possible in order to make the book accessible to a general-interest reader. And I was able to follow the evidence where it led, rather than cherrypick evidence to support some grand theme. It was a great, worthwhile experience, and I mention that because these collaborations can, for writers, be frustrating. If I'd felt my integrity being compromised, I would have walked away. Instead, I have my name on the cover. It's 256 pages, hardcover, about 5.5 x 8.5. More info at www.unboundlegal.com.

The second interesting aspect is the marketing of this book. It's rocket-fueled. When the book went to press, I felt my work was finally done. I was exhausted and glad to stop. But that's when Galbenski was ready, finally, to start. There's a big difference between the creation of the book and the marketing of the book, and that's why a book like this really needs two different kinds of people with two totally different skills. The business folks see this book as a valuable product, and they know exactly what to do with a valuable product. This book has a public-relations guy, a website team, someone mailing books out to trade journals and select outlets, and I don't know who else. As a writer, I find it a relief to see other people fired up to do this kind of work. Other people value my work on this book and are working hard, right now, to get the word out. Now that's publishing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Opium 8

Opium Magazine Issue 8: The Infinity Issue. Learn about the unique, thousand-year cover here. Learn about the contents and see a preview of the interior here. I design the magazine, work as senior editor, and contribute content. Each issue is designed differently. Also, Opium holds Literary Death Matches across the country. Visit the site for information on the next shows in Boston (May 21), Chicago (May 23), New York (May 27), San Francisco (June 12), and Paris (September 23). I will be a judge at the Chicago Death Match, which is Saturday, May 23. Doors open at 7 pm and show starts at 8 pm at Viaduct Theater (3111 N. Western Ave., ph: 773-296-6024). The Death Match caps the week of the Pilcrow Literary Festival.

Monday, May 11, 2009

American Soma

American Soma by Savannah Schroll Guz will be out shortly from So New. I designed the cover and interior. The word soma has many connotations relating to a kind of waking sleep state, with some meanings traceable to early Native Americans. The most famous literary use is in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, in which people are required to take soma to remain happy and complacent. Today, soma is a muscle relaxer that blocks sensations of pain sent from the nerves to the brain. In the design of the book, I settled on evoking a sterile, pharmacological, drug-induced bliss.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

World Takes is a new collection of stories from Timmy Waldron, published this year by Word Riot Press. I designed the cover and interior, which included photos and other fun graphic touches. He has a funny list at McSweeney's.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Opium 7

I designed the interior of Opium Magazine Issue 7, which came out end of 2008. See preview at Issuu.com here. Contributors: Etgar Keret, David Markson, Steve Almond, Neil Labute, Chuck Close, Lauren Schenkman, Amy Shearn, Melissa Broder, Michael Leong, Bradley Bazzle, Mike Sacks, Anne R. Allen, Kristina Moriconi, and more. An art section curated by Jesse Nathan includes work from Art Spiegelman, David Shrigley, CM Evans. The issue also features the first Network of Writers Experiment pages and the winners of the 7-line Story Contest.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nothing Funny Available; Barringer in Chicago in May

There's Nothing Funny about Design is now available at online booksellers everywhere. It has a Facebook Group page and a preview at Issuu.com. I will be part of a panel on book design hosted by Show&Tell in Chicago on Wednesday May 20 at 7:00 pm at The Whistler. More info here. Panel includes Jay Ryan, Paul Hornschemeir, and more. I will be in Chicago at the Pilcrow Literary Festival for events through Saturday April 24. I will be a judge at the Literary Death Match as well, which is either Friday or Saturday, still to be determined.

Monday, February 2, 2009

"There's Nothing Funny about Design" is now available for preorder. 256 pages, 6x9, cover illustration by Felix Sockwell, written and designed by me, published by Princeton Architectural Press, official publication date is June 1. If you're a reviewer, contact PAP for your review copy. Discounted preorder prices are available at some online booksellers right now. Princeton, Chronicle, B&N, Powells, Amazon, Tower. More information later.