welcome to bookish design
Click on any image to read more about that project.
the everlasting meal cookbook
This collaboration with Tamar Adler produced the latest “my favorite thing I ever did.”
salt fat acid heat
I always wanted to have a #1 New York Times bestseller This is how that dream came true!
on the edge of your seat
(In the same voice Kathy says “Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!): Chairs! Chairs! Chairs!
the creative growth book
Never had so much fun with art as when Creative Growth gave me access to 40 years worth of artwork and free rein to organize it in a book-length celebration.
all over coffee
Paul came to me with a particular problem. He had heard feedback that a lot of people who read his comic strip were confused because they thought each one led to the next. Here’s what we did to break that convention.
everything is its own reward
The second “All Over Coffee” collection continues the design of the first, where placing the binding on the top of the book breaks the convention of continuity to help each page stand alone in the reader’s mind.
catamaran literary reader
This literary arts quarterly started more than 10 years ago and the design still looks fresh and modern in a format that has never been stumped by the shape of a poem, the length of an essay, or the proportions of a piece of art.
the believer magazine
During its original run at McSweeney’s—more than 100 issues—this magazine was a literal workshop to fine-tune how I see color, not to mention all-caps Clarendon bold.
When 56 high school students each write a children’s story that volunteer artists will illustrate, the world needs to see the outcome in a format that exalts the results.
10 years at the edible schoolyard
Repurposing public-domain etchings from an 1800s Italian cookbook to celebrate using food to teach middle school.
alcatraz escape files
This book may lean on a bureaucratic look but the history of escapes attempts (and successes?) is nothing to merely rubber stamp.
alcatraz: the last day
Follow Leigh Wiener step by step for one day in 1963 as he documents the closing moments of Alcatraz as a prison.
all known metal bands
Before there was discogs, the only way to look up the name of every heavy metal band was through this (probably) demonic directory.
aunt sandy’s cookbook
As popular perception of marijuana began to change, this cookbook focused on the 1950s-style domesticity of this cooking ingredient.
Don’t be fooled by those innocent-seeming plants all around us. Let this book cover be a warning that they will definitely try to wind around you and cut you with thorns.
This book is a time machine that takes you to the street corners in Paris where the earliest postcards where photographed.
ciudad de payasos
This book is typeset to highlight the movement in the words of Daniel Alarcón and the drawings of Sheila Alvarado.
on to the next dream
This novella is Paul Madonna’s further exploration into illustrated fiction as he chronicles gentrification in San Francisco.
the day after the day after
When stock photography can’t provide anything that feels like that one day when a made-for-TV movie changed what your biggest fear is, you have to recreate the scene and shoot it yourself.
four new messages
Following the impulses of this collection of fast, postmodern fiction led to the creation of an accidental Mondrian.
how to be inappropriate
Why yes. Yes, I do think it’s funny.
woke up lonely
A book jacket in four flat Pantones printed to gain the illusion of layers and depth.
A book cover that channels early Soviet optimism and graphic arts.
unleashing group genius
Testing all the signals of navigation: color coding, levels of experience, calendars and timing, mapping and orientation, and clear descriptive typography—but, you know, in a way that looks good.
protect your garden
Even field guides with pictures of root rot can be fun to work on.
The logo of this Spanish-language podcast was literally inspired by street vendors in Mérida, Mexico, and created on a bus ride from there to Campeche. In other words, diseño gráfico ambulante.
campo de encanto
It’s too bad this company folded, and not just because these labels aren’t around anymore, but also because this pisco was truly the best I’ve ever tasted.
who is bookish design?
Mostly, it’s me, Alvaro, working from an office overlooking the Sacramento River, where I respond to the demands of new design challenges by myself, or by building a team of collaborating editors, proofreaders, coders, illustrators, photographers, or whomever the project calls on to succeed.
My favorite projects are those that use all my faculties. Give me an unusual organizational problem to solve with clean typography. Give me an author-illustrator collaboration that has to be planned out toward its eventual book form even before the writing is completed. Give me an unexpected stumbling block born of the subconscious expectations that every reader holds. Give me a 40-year archive of art to narrate a story out of. Give me a couple classrooms of aspiring high-school authors to help them write, to lead editors through their writing, to find volunteer artists to illustrate every story, and to design it all into a lovely hardcover that saves money on the print run with 4-over-2 plating. Whatever problem your book project is going to need solved, give it to me! Pretty soon, we’ll both be pleased.
what is bookish design?
Bookish design is the accumulated experience of a designer who never set out to be a designer, but discovered a natural and comfortable place in design at the intersection of his life-long interests: narrative, culture, education, vision, composition, color, shape, and problem solving.
why is bookish design?
Because books are the best! And the best book challenges are immersive, complete projects where a new and unexpected challenge arises in the making of a book. Whether the author isn’t sure how to present the content to help the reader the most, or the organization of materials is unclear and could go in different directions, or, even better, a challenge we haven’t imagined yet but you’ll bring to me soon, that’s exactly where bookish wants to be.
how is bookish design?
Bookish Design is not afraid. Not of color, not of black and white. Not of huge, not of dainty. Bookish Design explores for new ideas just as much as it values tradition. Bookish Design has strong opinions as much as an urge for dialogue to see if they hold up. Plus—and it must be said with character—typography, typography, typography.
And to glue it all together, Bookish Design has a sense of humor.