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Graphic Design Book Review: The Blue Lady’s New Look & Other Curiosities

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Not too long ago, I received a book in the mail: the uniquely titled The Blue Lady’s New Look and Other Curiosities. This book – a collection put together by jones knowles ritchie design firm – contains 52 articles related to design & marketing, and is a solid read for any designer looking to think a little deeper about what (s)he does.

The Blue Lady's New Look

What’s It All About?

The tagline on the front of the book reads “posts from the crossroads of design & marketing”, and that pretty much sums up the collection. You’re not going to find any list posts; no Illustrator or Photoshop tutorials; no CSS tricks. Instead, you’ll read various cerebral takes on design/marketing and its effect on the viewer. From takes on packaging design to virtual branding; from building trust to limited edition designs; a wide range of topics are covered here.

A small sample of articles inside include:

  • Can graphics make a car go faster?
  • Even no branding is branding
  • Is gender bending ok for brands?
  • Can bad taste make for a good design

The jkr Design Gazette has been posting daily for two years; it is a respected source for design & marketing journalists, industry experts & more. The design expertise is applied to offer an informed perspective on branding & marketing topics.

Who’s It For?

The Blue Lady’s New Look is a book for those consumed by design & marketing – those who love to learn the ins & outs, how design & marketing work with one another, and how to apply one to the other to maximize results. This isn’t a “how to do X” book, but this is a good thing; instead, the writing is designed to make the reader think, to make the reader come up with their own solutions. It truly is a thought-provoking read, with worthwhile questions being asked and expanded upon by the author, Silas Amos. While I’d recommend any and all involved in the design industry to have a read, the greatest benefit will come to those who have a little experience under their belts. This experience will help the understanding of some of the topics covered within the book.

The Blue Lady's New Look - Inside

While the book is well-written and definitely thought out, it isn’t perfect (nothing ever is). Each article is a bite-sized chunk, save the last one. While this is probably mostly a good thing – our attentions spans are ever-shortening – it does feel like a few articles here and there could have benefitted from a bit more content. However, maybe that’s just me enjoying what I’m reading and wishing for more. The design and printing of the book is done well enough, but it definitely isn’t ground-breaking; it’s a bit bland, to be honest. The design of the book does its job in the sense of staying out of the way of the content; however, the complete lack of color (likely a cost-cutting measure) is a slight visual detriment. Finally, the table of contents is laid out by grouping of articles, not per article. This can make it difficult to go back and find articles you’ve enjoyed and want to reference, which happens often since each article is easily digestible and well-written.

All in all, though, I’d deem The Blue Lady’s New Look and Other Curiosities a worthwhile addition to any designer’s bookshelf. I know mine is better off with it. I’ve found myself referring back to its contents in successful efforts to start up a stalled creative engine. It’s a breath of fresh air in the design authoring market; if interested, the book is available for purchase on Amazon.

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