Tuesday, 3:00pm
5 February 2019

Books received #36

James Victore’s Feck Perfuction; Observe, Collect, Draw!; Brand By Hand; How To Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole

Here is a collection of self-help and ‘memoir-adjacent’ titles – all written by designers – that caught our attention in recent weeks.

Designer James Victore’s Feck Perfuction (Chronicle Books, $19.95) is an eye opening collection of what he describes as ‘dangerous ideas on the business of life’. Packed with no-nonsense, motivational messages on creative courage and the human condition, he celebrates authenticity and ‘weirdness’ as a tool to be used for success. The book’s six chapters – ‘Voice’, ‘Fear’, ‘Start’, ‘Action’, ‘Habits’ and ‘Purpose’ – are split into further sub-chapters with titles such as ‘You, the reluctant hero’ and ‘Have a damn opinion’. Each includes a short passage, drawing insight from psychology, philosophy and lessons from Victore’s design career. Bold statements are re-emphasised in sketches and image play throughout the book. This book acts as a great instigator, offering a not-so gentle push to kickstart creative projects. It is available from the 5 March 2019.

See ‘Writing on the wall’ , a 1998 profile of Victore in Eye 30.

Spread from Feck Perfuction showing ‘Seek the muse’, which reads: ‘Only when you step outside of your routine will chaos, madness, and life-changing opportunities find you. Yes, work, work, work; but get out and wander, too.’


‘This is a radical idea. When you begin to see your work as a gift, it changes why you work, what you make, and even who you work for …’


James Victore’s Feck Perfuction.


Observe, Collect, Draw!: A Visual Journal (Princeton Architectural Press, $18.95) by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec sits somewhere between creative play and journaling, from exercises in active looking and material exploration to prompts asking readers to self reflect: These include: ‘Look back over your life and reflect on the eras, moments, and people that made you who you are today’ and ‘Can being honest and recording your mistakes make you less fearful of imperfection?’. The book provides tools for creating data portraits and is richly illustrated throughout, concluding with a section that includes more white space for readers to craft their own visual language.

See ‘Designing MyFry’ on the Eye blog.

Spread from ‘Ode to the One I Love’ in Observe, Collect, Draw!: A Visual Journal.


Chapter opener for ‘Five Days’, a series of data collection tasks for distraction, mindfulness, envy and complaints.


Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec’s Observe, Collect, Draw!: A Visual Journal.


New York-based graphic designer Jon Contino’s Brand By Hand | Blisters, Calluses, and Clients: A Life in Design (Abrams, £30 / $40) is rooted in memoir, beginning with stories from his childhood and continuing as a portfolio of client and personal projects. This lettering driven and illustrative work for brands big and small is dotted with reflections, recollections and insights into what comes with a certain kind of creativity – ‘The greatest ideas never some from a person in a comfortable emotional state. They come from torment and frustration and complete and total anxiety. You have to be completely irrational to summon the creativity you were born with.’

Spread from Brand By Hand showing work for CXXVI Clothing Co. of New York, founded by Contino and designer Matt Gordon.


Cover for Jon Contino’s Brand By Hand.


Paul Woods’s How to Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole (Laurence King, £12.99) describes his personal frustrations of working within an ego-driven, toxic culture of ‘creativity’. With a direct, ‘simply no bullshit’ tone of voice, Woods, whose biography describes him as a ‘thought leader’, recounts an irrational world of pitching, briefing, etiquette and client relationships; and offers simple, self-help strategies to avoid and overcome unsustainable working practices. Woods’s illustrations run alongside his narrative, taking the form of flow diagrams, checklists and decision trees to aid readers who have to navigate their own workplace problems. Amidst the humorous anecdotes, the book offers real, practical advice to young designers. Available March 2019.

Spreads from How to Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole showing ‘Long Hours’ which concludes: ‘The reality is that working long hours does not produce better work … It just means you suck at managing your time.’


Spread showing ‘good culture’ and ‘bad culture’. Good culture includes crediting the whole team in award applications and paying interns fairly. Bad culture includes failing to reply to unsuccessful job applicants and overworking staff.


Paul Woods’s How to Do Great Work Without Being an Asshole.


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.