UPDATE: We reached our original funding goal and it has really sparked some thought—we are living in a moment when there are almost no venues for truly critical writing about design at the present moment.
I'd like to offer a counter to this situation via the possibility of reaching a stretch goal of $35,000.
What I propose is a design reader as a project that would be a satellite to the original book―as this current book project is now completely funded, I would like to refer back to what I originally wrote in the project description: The profits from this book will fund other books.
If we somehow meet a stretch goal of $35k over the next 64 hours, I will also curate, edit and publish a collection of new essays about graphic design by my favorite international writers in graphic design that explore cultural issues that are currently under-explored (i.e.: gender, sexual orientation, cultural identity, pedagogy, oppositionality).
This project would ship with Parting It Out (or at the worst shortly thereafter with international shipping at no extra charge) and the ebook version would be provided to all backers―in essence becoming a "twofer" for backers―two quality books as a reward in lieu of just one.
Parting It Out will still include a bunch of new essays, enhanced printing/binding, and a boosted page count—reaching the goal guarantees that. There will be no change to the original project in that regard.
About Parting It Out:
Hi. My name is Ian Lynam. I'm a graphic designer, a design teacher, and a design critic living and working in Tokyo Japan.
- interior graphic design for Google Japan's offices
- interior graphic design for YouTube Space Tokyo
- identity design for the Apple-acquired Topsy
- regular design writer and editor for Slanted, Idea, Néojaponisme and Modes of Criticism
- multiple Asia Pacific Design Award winner
- Co-chair of the MFA in Graphic Design program at VCFA and faculty at Temple University Japan and Meme Design School
Criticism and writing is something you do to push culture forward. Most people don't think criticism is part of graphic design, but in reality it's been around since the beginning.
Incidentally, the term “graphic design” was coined by William Addison Dwiggins in 1922 and guess what—he was a graphic designer AND he was a graphic design critic. Criticism drives change in the practice of design, though critical writing pays far less than design itself.
I've been a graphic designer for 15 years, and writing seriously on graphic design for five. I've written a ton of essays that have been published in magazines, a handful of zines and contributed to dozens of books. Collectively, these writing projects are the most important thing I have ever done. These essays are a mirror of contemporary culture and how I look at the world.
In all of my writing, I've tried to take what is usually a "dry" topic (a.k.a. criticism) and make it more fun—by injecting pop culture, sex, memoir, and cultural relativism. Every time I write, I think: how can I critically assess culture in this essay while making this fun to read?
I'm 42. I published my first zine when I was 14. I've always been more interested in self-publishing than being published, but the books I've published in the past have always been constrained by what I as an individual could afford to produce.
With your support, this project will be a chance to collect some of my favorite writing—18 essays about graphic design and culture around the world— in an uncompromisingly beautiful book form.
The title, Parting It Out, refers to the disassembly and reassembly of aspects of culture.
Additionally, within is the most comprehensive reading list of essays about graphic design ever published, as well.
So what do we get out of it?
This is the big, perennial question. What we get out of it is that this book has a physical form appropriate to the considered, curated content as (what I hope will be) a milestone in the history of graphic design writing. I have been publishing graphic design-related books and booklets for a number of years, but I've always been constrained by budgets (namely, what I as an individual can afford). This is a chance to break out of that and to do something bigger—if this Kickstarter is funded, then this book will help support the release of the next book, and the next—you'll support the first in a veritable chain reaction of beautiful, amazingly printed books.
One thing: I'll publish it even if this doesn't get funded.
What this Kickstart means for this book:
- 228 pages -> more pages, more graphics, and more writing!
- 2-color -> split fountain printing and 2 spot colors
- softcover -> fancy fabric multi-color foil-stamped slipcover and a more rugged binding
- printed somewhere -> printed and bound in Japan by expert craftspersons
- OK paper -> really nice paper!
If you're at all interested in design, are a graphic designer, a design educator, a design student, or are just looking for some fun reading about visual culture, I encourage you to contribute to this project. Thank you for listening.
What people who have read the manuscript have to say:
“Lynam is a bitingly humorous writer—gifted with the intuition to give stories depth. This is no accident—he writes from experience—design criticism that is not dry and painful, but lived and approachable. A reading pleasure!” —Lars Harmsen, Slanted Magazine
“Parting It Out may be billed simply as a anthology of design writing, but it is far more heartfelt than any such collection I’ve come across and fully surpasses those confines.”—Evan Mast, Ratatat (the gentleman who made the music in the Kickstarter video)
“Eschewing the shortsighted practical nature of much graphic design-oriented writing, Lynam focuses on demythologizing contemporary graphic design—opening up a new horizon of discourse both East and West.” —Kiyonori Muroga, Idea Magazine
“Ian Lynam likes thinking about design as much as making it. Luckily for us, he also likes writing about it that much too. (Double lucky, he is really super-good at all three!)” —Shawn Seymour, Lullatone
Risks and challenges
There are practically no risks involved—the bulk of the book is written and we’ve found an amazing, affordable printer in Japan. Now it's just a matter of designing everything and doing all of the production for print, plus adding in any new material prior. Plus, there's a poster to design!
As I've self-published books before, I am aware of the workflow process and intense amount of legwork it takes to get them out in the world.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)