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The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol

It’s hard not to love a good book trailer. Enter this fantastic new trailer for John Wilcock‘s The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol. (The second Warhol-related gem to drop this year.)

Granted, the book isn’t actually as much an autobiography so much as it is a biography collaged through interviews with 20 people close to Warhol at the end of the 60’s — from Nico to Taylor Mead to Lou Reed — trying to “explain” and make sense of the pop art icon. Still, it’s a remarkable piece of cultural history offering a rare glimpse of a man full of contradictions.

A lot of people really misunderstood him then and indeed still do, although there’s hardly a day when Andy’s name is not mentioned in the paper. He’s become a kind of icon, kind of representative of what the 60’s were.” ~ John Wilcock

Wilcock is a self-admitted expert on Warhol — he used to go to The Factory, Warhol’s famous studio, two or three times a week during the sixties and early seventies, and accompanied him to the sets of his first films.

Andy taught me an awful lot about life. I learned that artist and poets who hang around together basically tell the future, and even though they maybe explain it in words or in images that you’re not quite clear about, somebody interprets that. And, to some extent, I felt that was my role — to hang around artists and try and explain what I thought was some of the meaning.” ~ John Wilcock

The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol is as wondefully written as it is beautifully art-directed, full of rare images that make it double as a priceless stand-alone photography book. See for yourself — you can preview it on the book’s website.

via Flavorpill


13 Words: Lemony Snicket + Maira Kalman

A despondent dog, a busy bird, and what iconic illustration has to do with the iPad.

We love iconic illustrator Maira Kalman and have a soft spot for the writings of Daniel Handler, better-known under his legal pen name, Lemony Snicket. Not to mention we’re all over a good trailer for a book. Naturally, we’re head over heels with 13 Words, the new book by Lemony Snicket with an illustrated trailer by Maira Kalman, who also illustrated the book itself.

13 Words is essentially a word book, but it’s no ordinary wordbook. Like those brilliantly reimagined alphabet books we featured some time ago, Snicket’s latest gem takes a children’s literature staple, simultaneously honoring it and flipping it on its head.

Snicket curates 13 of the most essential words of all time — OK, we know you’re dying to know: Bird, Despondent, Cake, Dog, Busy, Convertible, Goat, Hat, Haberdashery, Scarlet, Baby, Panache and Mezzo-Soprano — and pairs each with original illustrations in Kalman’s signature simple-loveliness style.

Quirky and irreverent, the book is as much an educational tool for kids as it is a work of cross-disciplinary art for grown-ups. But to take it one step further, we’d actually love to see it as an iPad app that really brings Kalman’s wonderful artwork to life at the fingertips of today’s digital-swazi kids.

13 Words is officially out on October 5, but is available for pre-order this week. And we have one word for it: Unungettable.


The Art of Book Sculpture

Surgical typography, a beautiful ghost, and why the reading of art is the new art of reading.

We’ve already seen artists make magic out of materials like paper, cardboard and even toilet paper rolls. One related creative trend we’ve been seeing lately is that of book sculptures. (We wonder if it has to do with the speedy demise of print as artists try to find new ways of engaging with these analog cultural artifacts whose core function digital platforms are deeming obsolete.) Today, we spotlight five of our favorite book sculptors.


Artist Nicholas Galanin‘s What Have We Become? series offers incredible, haunting 3D portraits hand-carved out of several-thousand-page tomes.

A North American indigenous artist, Galanin’s work is inspired by Native American culture and reflects a certain layered authenticity difficult to capture in words.


Paul Octavious takes the concept of book sculptures quite literally — his typographic creations, sculpted out of piles of books, are a brilliant example of richness in simplicity.

Both playful and sophisticated, defying the laws of physics, the sculptures are a wonderful celebration of everything a good book stands for: imagination, balance, and delightful escapism from the constraints of reality.


For the ultimate meta-conceptual book art, look no further Royal College of Art graduates Hanna Nilsson, Sofia Østerhus and Markus Bergström, a.k.a. Bygg Studio, who have created an entire alphabet out of stacked books.

As bonified typography geeks, we’d love to see the series turned into an actual, usable font.


The great gift of literature is its ability to make incredible scenes spring up from the barren black-and-white landscape of the printed page and come to life before your eyes. British artist Su Blackwell does pretty much the same.

From Pandora’s box to Alice to Margaret and Marjorie, Blackwell’s brand of storytelling plays on stories we know and love but tells them in infinitely imaginative new ways.

The intricate, whimsical scenes reconcile serenity and urgency in a palpably delicate way, almost as though they set free the characters and settings trapped inside the books for centuries.


Brian Dettmer is a surgical sculptor with a penchant for the esoteric, obscure and near-obsolete. His remarkable book sculptures are meticulously carved into vintage volumes using a variety of tools — Xacto knives, surgical clamps, pliers, tweezers — and are painstakingly cut away one page at a time.

From atlases to dictionaries to paperbacks to encyclopedias, his artistic ingenuity — as well as his scalpel — knows no boundaries.

An intersection of pop art, ancient craft and scientific fascination, Dettmer’s creations are the epitome of architectured whimsy, precisely measured to tell a story yet artfully flamboyant in a way that makes the story wildly captivating.

Rather than trying to subvert things and impose his own message, Dettmer aims to play on and reveal hidden undertones of the books themselves through his sculptures.

I try to reveal some of the undertones and unconscious stories books tell. If I’m working with a book that was full of information, the book becomes a sculpture and the information can become concrete poetry within the sculpture. With certain books like medical books, the text itself can become a metaphor for love and relationships rather than strictly the physical body. A lot of images and different types of field-specific language can be exposed in different ways to make it more universal.

Print may be dead, but its ghost is a thing of beauty.



Creative Derivatives of the London Tube Map

Nebulae, web mavens, and what the Kabbalah has to do with 100 years of music history.

In 1931, Harry Beck designed the first diagramatic map of the London Underground. By 1960, the Tube Map had evolved into the icon of minimalist modern design that we know and love today — a meme, even. And as any meme, it has spawned a number of creative derivatives. Here are five such tube-map-inspired gems.


A dreadfully long subway commute can often send you scrambling for ways to bend the space-time continuum. Now, one scientist has done just that — sort of. Samuel Arbesman, a Harvard postdoctoral fellow in computational sociology, has created The Milky Way Transit Authority — a brilliantly simplified map of the Milky Way displaying the complex interconnections of our galaxy in a digestible way.

Beyond the clever visualization concept, we love the fusion of science and philosophy in Arbesman approach:

People ask why I haven’t marked ‘You Are Here’ on the map – but I think it’s more humbling to realize that we aren’t the center of the universe.” ~ Samuel Arbesman

We also find it fascinating to think of the incredible and daunting vastness of the universe in such mundane terms — there’s something eerily soothing about this hop-hop-there-it-is approach to the celestial expanse.


In 2006, the ambitious folks at The Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog set out to plot the branches and connections of 100 years of music on a London-Tube-style map. From Ray Charles to Radiohead, the project is an impressive feat of musicology and cultural history.

Each line represents a different genre, with the influential musicians in it as the stops.

We strongly encourage you to explore this priceless and fascinating blueprint to 20th-century music culture — grab a high-res PDF here.


Making sense of religious doctrine can get messy and confusing. This tube-style map of the Kabbalah Tree of Life, first spotted in Alan Moore’s comic book series Promethea, attempts to shed light on the Sephiroth — the ten attributes of God in the Kabbalah.

Despite the seeming simplicity of the map, it plays on many of the Kabbalah’s sacred numbers and relationships. The three columns, for instance, arrange the ten sepiroth according to the three pillars — the Pillar of Mildness, the Pillar of Mercy, and the Pillar of Severity. And the twenty-two lines connecting the sephiroth reflect the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

To make things even more elaborate, adding the 10 sepiroth and 22 lines together makes 32, the number of Masonic degrees and the number of Kabbalistic paths to wisdom.


I’m a big believers in using the familiar as a metaphor that introduces and piques interest in the unfamiliar. And the folks at the Somerset Tourism Bureau in the UK tend to agree — so they created this wonderful Heritage Touring Map based on the London Tube Map, featuring seven thoughtfully curated “lines” of tourist attractions and must-sees.

Already a clear box-breaking thinker in tourism communication, the Somerset office even has its very own Vimeo channel, including seven short films, one about each tour “line”.


Every year, Japanese-Swiss design studio Information Architects maps the web’s biggest influencers, subway-style. The project’s latest installment, Web Trend Map 4, is an absolute masterpiece of design, data visualization, and digital anthropology — which, in fact, has enjoyed a level of viralness deeming it worthy of being on the map itself.

Sure, WTM may be based on the Tokyo Metro Map, but that was actually built borrowing heavily from the London Tube Map, so it’s just a matter of degrees of creative separation.


I’ve featured it before, to a great response, so it’s worth mentioning the MBTI Personality Map and its psychosocial genius.

Each subway line represents one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, arranged based on the semantic distance between the 39 core word descriptors. The outer circle contains the 161 original word descriptors from the MDS test, grouped into 8 layers based on hierarchical order. Finally, the colors of the words intuitively represent their meaning — so “calm” is in the blue spectrum and “passionate” in the red.

Information design for the social sciences — now that’s something to encourage more of.


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