Observed

David LaChapelle, Burning Beauty

Fotografiska New York (The Museum of Photography) is one of New York City’s newest, best museums, and its retrospective dedicated to David LaChapelle was stunning. Including over 200 photos and illustrations, this exhibition catalog covers 3 decades of LaChapelle’s playful, subversive, glorious work. Pro tip: when visiting Fotografiska’s 2nd-floor bar Veronika, order the excellent take on a Moscow Mule.

QSL? (Do You Confirm Receipt of My Transmission?)

Earlier this year, we asked Transmitter Brewing’s Ant Accardi about the labeling he uses on beer cans, inspired by the QSL cards amateur radio operators would send to each other in the Before Time. These once ubiquitous cards fell out of memory, but Standards Manual’s newest release is utterly charming and a must for typeface and logo fans (i.e. everybody).

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands

Kate Beaton’s graphic novel, released in a chunky hardbound edition earlier this year, is already a defining work in the genre. Ducks chronicles Beaton’s time working the oil sands in Alberta to pay off her student loans. At turns harrowing, sweet, heartbreaking, and transformative, her personal journey is set against the rapidly changing backdrop of economic and climate realities.

Wild Life – The Life and Work of Charley Harper

Charley Harper was a giant of 20th-century American illustration, and though his work was often described as “whimsical,” that dramatically understates his lasting influence on everything from magazine illustration to nature photography to Instagram feeds. This career retrospective showcases his bright, beautiful, precise style, and is a blast to have in any art book collection.

The Parklands

There are plenty of beautiful National Parks books out there, but gestalten’s new book (in conjunction with Parks Project) feels fresh, tempering the grandeur with a field guide vibe. It’s nice when reverence and practicality mash-up in the layout of photos, facts, and maps. While not quite portable, it’s a nice adventure-planning companion during the winter months at home.

The Surf Atlas

But wait, there’s more from German design and art publisher gestalten (yes, lowercase “g’). Subtitled “Iconic Waves and Surfing Hinterlands,” this book is pure fantasy. If you surf it makes you want to surf more. If you want to learn to surf it provides immediate motivation. And if you don’t surf it’s ok: pretty pictures.

Clog x Feeds

Clog publishes single-topic explorations featuring multiple viewpoints from writers, artists, photographers, and statisticians (check out their back catalog here). Here they take on the idea of “Feeds,” the ubiquitous form of communication that dominates our lives. “Not only do feeds capture our attention, they turn it into a product.”

Mascot

Mascots: larky, goofball symbols of commerce that (by design) hook you as a child, or hook your inner child as an adult. What is it about mascots we can’t resist? UK bookstore and publisher Counterprint’s new essay thoughtfully examines their unique, remarkably resilient place in contemporary graphic design.

Revolution, The History of Turntable Design

Vinyl is everywhere, and it’s lovely to see album art back in our lives on bookshelves and credenzas. Another piece of art that’s back in a big way? Big, beautiful, analog record players. Revolution charts the evolution of devices that were once so common they blended entirely into the background. It’s wonderful to see them celebrated as an icon of consumer-focused industrial design.

Bowie for Babies

It’s a tale as old as time. The holidays roll around, and all your friends had babies. But what present to give to said babies? $40 t-shirts they’ll outgrow by the new year? Paul Daviz’s delightful rainbow of a baby book is guaranteed not to drive Mamas and Papas insane.

Palace Product Descriptions

Usually witty, refreshingly brief, and often completely unrelated to the item on display, Palace Skateboard’s online product descriptions are the stuff of branding legend. Phaidon collected 3,000 greatest hits in this quite striking volume, and it’s a perfect gift for writers, skateboarders, and combinations thereof.

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