Good afternoon. How are you? Thank you to everybody who's joined the site over the last few weeks. I'm sorry the updates are so sporadic right now. New Monsters are very much in the works, along with a new book, and lots of new graphic design. But today I'd like to introduce you to a new Monster I made for my friends at Leason Ellis, a group of intellectual property lawyers in White Plains, New York, just down the road from a great friend of the Monsters, animation god J.J. Sedelmaier. 

About a year ago one of the partners, Peter Sloane, contacted me about helping the firm with a graphic design project, which has led to a lovely exchange of ideas and skills. For one thing, Peter has given me a great education in intellectual property law by helping me file trademarks on the Daily Monster™ and 344 LOVES YOU™. With a little luck, I'll soon be the proud owner of my very own ®.

It ain't as easy as it looks. I didn't realize, for example, how strictly trademark law binds you to protect your intellectual property. You're basically forced to send out onerous cease and desist letters to anybody who comes near your trademark --- not because you're a mean corporation bent on destruction, but because you risk losing the protection of the law if you don't. It's an odd setup, and I'll write about it in more detail down the road.

This post is about a new Monster that Leason Ellis commissioned for their conference room. Wrap your head around that: A law firm with a custom Daily Monster™ in their conference room! You don't see that every day. A Belgian ad agency, sure. But a law firm? Whoda thunk it? They're cool guys!

And it is a tie-wearing Monster, of course, but one of loosened knot. (The tree with fallen apple in the background is their Newtonian logo.) You can click on the image to see a larger version:


Once we had the art approved, my friends at Typecraft made a glorious 72" x 24" print, and the guys at Fine Art Solutions took a break from handling Jill Greenberg and John Baldessari pieces to mount our guy. Take a look:


They even made a custom crate for him:


And here he is, properly installed in New York,
in the company of his legal guardians:


(Yuval H. Marcus, Peter S. Sloane, David Leason, Edward J. Ellis)

Thank you to David Leason and Peter Sloane and everybody at Leason Ellis for letting me play, and for giving a great new home to this Monster.  It's a good day at work! And, I hope, a further reminder that 344 LOVES YOU


Hello there! Just a quick sign of life from your friend in the ink business. Forgive me for being so un-posty these days. More Monsters are in the works, but right now I'm typing away furiously on a new book for Spring 2011 -- monsterless, but still funny, hopefully. In other words, I'm a lazy blogger, but not a lazy person, and I hope you'll stay tuned! And if you've forgotten, which I'd certainly understand, please let me remind you that 344 LOVES YOU


In the meantime, it's spring outside:




Good evening. As if you haven't had enough from me today, considering the Daily Monster™ Papers No. 15, and the first of the New Year's Eve Monsters, here is a little something that just arrived in the mail:

I was honored to design and illustrate issue 136 of the German science journal Der Donaldist. Now, just in case you're not familiar with this, allow me to explain: Donaldism is the scientific study of the universe occupied by Donald Duck -- Donald, Daisy, his nephews, Scrooge McDuck, the lot. We're not talking comic book collecting, either. The Donaldists are a group of writers, philosophers and scientists of every stripe (professors, applied physicists, journalists and judges among them) that have spent the last 32 years analyzing the available source material -- the canonical work of Carl Barks -- to formulate theories about the laws of physics and rules of society in Duckburgh.

They explained the scatter-shot nature of entropy in the duck universe, dealt with the phenomenon known as Veronkelung (literally uncle-ing -- there are only aunts and uncles, never parents), and they explained how ducks can have teeth when they're happy or angry. (Turns out that it's erectile tissue that pops up in emotionally heightened states.)

Back in 1977, led by out-of-work meteorology professor Hans von Storch, they formed the Deutsche Organisation der Nichtkommerziellen Anhänger des Lauteren Donaldismus -- the German Organization of Non-Commercial Followers of True Donaldism -- or D.O.N.A.L.D.

You'll be shocked -- shocked -- to learn that I was once one of them. 

Back in 1985, thanks to my then brand-new friend Elke Imberger, Der Donaldist was the first magazine to ever publish one of my drawings. Issue 54, page 40, bottom left. I was 12 and I was hooked!


Since then I've designed a few of their covers, like issue 94 below, and the poster for their 2000 National Congress in Marburg (entitled M2K), and actually brought the National Congress to my hometown of Rinteln in 1989, driving the town fathers to complete distraction. So if you thought I was a nerd now, boy oh boy, you should've seen me then...



Incidentally, the font on this poster is German Bold Italic by Towa Tei that shipped with the excellent album Sound Museum. How could it be anything else? That drawing is by Carl Barks, by the way.

This cover marks my 25 year anniversary with the Donaldists. Good timing, don't you think? If you like, you can click on the image below to download a 1920 x 1200 pixel desktop image of the cover, with a handy white bar on the right for your icons.


I've mentioned, have I not, that 344 LOVES YOU


Good morning. How are you? I hope you're not too put out by the end of Daylight Savings Time. I just wanted to post a few new things for you, chief among them the link to an interview I did with Thomas James for his excellent podcast Escape From Illustration Island.


My bit starts just shy of 10 minutes in (if you want to cheat and skip ahead). We're also giving away a signed copy of The Graphic Eye. You can get all the details about that right here.

In other news, I'm gearing up for the CTN Animation Expo in Burbank from Nov. 20th to the 22nd. If you're in the L.A. area, come check it out. From the looks of it, it'll be a chance to hobnob with some pretty spectacular people. I'm excited to see who I'll meet.

Lastly, I wanted to show you two drawings by Brandon Bass made in my Monster workshop at the AIGA Make/Think conference in Memphis a few weeks back. I just think they're very cool. You can see more drawings on Flickr.


More things are in the works. Always.

For now, I hope you remember that 344 LOVES YOU


Good afternoon. First of all, a much belated Thank You to all of you who gave me such a wonderful reception at the AIGA Make/Think Conference in Memphis two weeks ago. I'm still reeling. AIGA will post a video of the whole thing in the next few weeks, at which point I'll put up a link, of course.

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to a fun new thing I just finished. Jeff Smith and Al Quattrocchi of Tornado Design invited me to participate in their Enlighten! project, benefiting Inner-City Arts. They got together a pretty staggering group of artists, designers, and illustrators, so I'm just happy to have my dotty contribution in the mix. 

Please check out my entry, entitled INVISIBLE PARTICLES UNDER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS, because why shouldn't I bust out a cool, pretentious title every now and again, too? I hope you'll like it.

And hey, if you're in the Halloween spirit, please join me at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart this Saturday night for a Monster Drawing Workshop benefiting the excellent kids of 826LA.

Until then, please remember that 344 LOVES YOU


THE GRAPHIC EYE Launch Party Photos


Good morning. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Tim Moraitis and Jennie Meredith, and with some lighting help from Jona Frank, I'm happy to present to you photos from the launch party for my new book THE GRAPHIC EYE -- Photographs By Graphic Designers From Around The Globe. We got together at the beautiful Skylight Books annex in Los Feliz, California, last Friday night, and as you can see by clicking here, we had a great time!

I'll also add a few photos by Friend of the 344 Empire Dyana Valentine to give you an impression of the space. Thank you to all of you who came to visit, to Tim, Jennie, Jona, Dyana, Linda, Michael, and Scott for taking great photos of the event, to Maria and Steve at Skylight for organizing such a great night, and to Gustavo for spinning excellent photography themed tunes.

More things are in the work and on the way. For now, I hope you'll have a great weekend, safe in the knowledge that 344 LOVES YOU





Good afternoon. How are you? I hope this finds you well. Please forgive me for being so utterly behind on updating the blog. I'm tempted to promise that I'll do better, but I've made that promise before, of course. Best to just change one's ways without trumpeting big resolutions. I'll certainly try.

The main reason I've been so absent is that, while I've been working just about non-stop over the last few months, that work hasn't yielded any new drawings that I can show you right now.

So what's new? I designed an internal poster for Siemens, which I can't show you. Did a whole sheaf of drawings for an internal presentation to Avery Dennison. Can't show you those, either. I'm working on a cover for a book about Miles Davis. That one I will be able to show you in a while, but it's not even done yet. You see why I'm not so much with the blogging right now.

I also filmed new Daily Letter segments for the Electric Company. They turned out really fun, and will start airing in the fall, at which point I'll post a link for you here, of course.

Beyond that, I'm working on a series of new Daily Monster drawings, and on a new Daily Monster online app. I'll reveal both once they're done. I've also been putting my shoulder into a new non-monster book idea that I'll tell you about once it's found a home with a publisher.

On a more mundane note, I've made a few little tweaks to the 344 Design site, launched a separate site for my illustration business, and updated the design of my channel on YouTube.

As you can see, there's a lot going on, but most of the really news stuff is just not quite at the point where I can post it here for you.

What I can show you is the new photo book THE GRAPHIC EYE -- Photographs By Graphic Designers From Around The Globe. I had mentioned it in a previous post, but now I have my first samples in hand, and can put up a few actual photos:

480-Graphic-Eye-UK 480-Graphic-Eye-UK-inside-f 480-Graphic-Eye-UK-flap

RotoVision are releasing the book in the UK. They're the ones who said "A coffee table book with photos by designers? Let's do it!" and then let me do it right. They rock. They also won Chronicle Books as a co-publisher for the US edition, which looks like this:

480-graphic-eye 480-graphic-eye-spine 480-Graphic-Eye-Inside-Jack 480Graphic-Eye-Spread

As you can see, the UK edition is a paperback, while the US version is casebound. I designed both of them, and at some point I'll make a little graph of the cover selection process for you. We started out with the exact same set of comps on both sides of the Atlantic, and then evolution took its course. I actually like them both very much. I hope you do, too. (By the way, the cool wing foldout on the UK edition was the idea of RotoVision art director Tony Seddon. Thank you, Tony!)

I also want to mention that the book features a brilliant foreword by noted culture and design critic Natalia Ilyin, author of Chasing The Perfect and Blonde Like Me. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Natalia kicks serious ass. I'm lucky to have her words in my book.

Both editions will be on sale online in September, and in stores no later than November.

If you live in the L.A. area, or you can make the trip, we'll have a little launch party for the book at beautiful Skylight Books in Los Feliz on Friday, September 18th, starting at 7:30PM. Skylight is on the same block as some great restaurants and shops, and just down the road from Griffith Observatory, so I say come on down and make a night of it! No RSVP necessary. Just drop by, and feel free to bring friends.

That's pretty much it for now. Please stay tuned for more soon. In the meantime, my apologies again for having become such an absentee blogger. I do hope you know that even during these extended radio silences 344 LOVES YOU


P.S. A quick technical note: TypePad now supports threaded comments, which means if you post a comment I can reply to you right here on the site, linked to your initial comment. More importantly, it also means that you can comment on each other's comments. You know... like YouTube and Facebook have already had forever? Well, now the Daily Monster has it, too.


Good afternoon. The solstice-adjacent sun still mercifully high in the California sky at 7PM, and I thought I'd show you the latest Monster expansion. I just received a sheaf of photos from Belgian friend of the Monsters Luc Debaisieux at JWT Group Belgium (J Walter Thompson) in Brussels. Luc runs a program that turns the agency's historic building -- the 1908 Maison Delune on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt -- into a gallery for a young artist for one year at a time. This year it's the Monsters' turn.

You may recognize a lot of these Monsters from the Open Source Monsters series, and from the Send A Monster Facebook app, but the biggest of the pieces contains a new Monster I brought out especially for the Maison. I'll add that at the end. For now, my great thanks to Luc for his endless energy in making this happen, and to his JWT colleague art director Sebastien Verliefde, whom you may remember from his stellar additions to the Open Source Monsters. You can see some of them in the bottom row, center frame. And here.

More Monsters are on the way, but even now
I hope you'll get the idea that 344 LOVES YOU




Good morning. I thought I'd show you some of the work that makes it so I occasionally go off the Monster radar. The last few months were consumed almost entirely with this beast: Butterfield-cover-hand-blog

This is the catalog for the Deborah Butterfield show at L.A. Louver in Venice, CA. You may remember them from such previous projects as the Rogue Wave catalog and the David Hockney catalog. This one was our most ambitious project yet: 280 pages culled from literally thousands of behind-the-scenes photos, a retrospective of Deborah's past work with the gallery, an extensive and fascinating interview between Deborah and Lawrence Weschler, and photos of the current show by Robert Wedemeyer, of course. Kimberly Davis wrote the introduction, and Lisa Jann's credit is misspelled "Edited by" when it should actually have been "Edited, wrangled, kept alive and breathing in the face of adversity, and made altogether possible by."

The sculptures themselves are fascinating, because they look like wood, but aren't. Each horse is originally composed from branches Deborah finds in Montana and Hawaii. Once she's happy with the piece, it's photographed extensively before all pieces are numbered and sent to a foundry in Walla Walla. There each branch is cast in bronze in a waste mold, meaning the original branch is destroyed in the process. The bronze branches are then reassembled, welded, and finally painted and varnished to look like the original wood. In other words, enormous effort goes into a deceptively simple result, the true complexity of which is perceptible only to the initiated few. (You can see why I'd like it.)


Because of this process, these horses look like they'd weigh as much as a stack of wood, when they really weigh tons. The book mirrors this. It's a petite volume at just 5.5 x 7 inches, but clocks in at a surprising 1lb.6oz. And by "surprising" I mean you pick it up and you say "Whoa! That's heavier than I thought."

The way the catalog is laid out, each new scuplture is introduced with a title page, then shown in extreme close-up, revealed in a medium view, and finally in its entirety on the fourth spread:





The book then moves to the interview section, which has pretty little pull quotes that color coordinate with the images on each spread. I almost ditched the pull quotes, because we were getting close to the deadline and I was exhausted. But then I gave a sanctimonious lecture to a student about the need to always go the extra mile on the typography. At that point I started getting pretty red in the face and realized that I had to stay up another night and take care of typographic business.




Then we get a few nice shots from around Deborah's workshops in Montana and Hawaii:



Lastly, there is a retrospective of work Deborah has done with L.A. Louver over the past ten years:



Oh, and then there's an 18-page biography of Deborah's shows since 1972. Lots of nice fiddly typesetting bits for those of you who like that sort of thing. Here's a closeup:


And how else could you end a book like this than by letting it ride into the sunset? (No, I'm not above that sort of humor -- the imperceptible-to-anyone-but-me kind.)


So you can see how this is the kind of job that takes a fair amount of time to design. And let's not even talk about the printing. Except to say that it took five days and nights, because I put in oodles of complex crossovers that make printers go crazy, and make it so I get to sleep on press for a week. But, as per usual, my friends at Typecraft worked miracles.

So there. I thought I'd show you. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Hey, by the way, I hope you know that 344 LOVES YOU


Good morning! Look! It's the all-new Complex Chinese Translation of All Access - The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers produced by Business Weekly Publishers in Taipei. 


Check out the mini site they put up for the release. You can find it at this link. If you're not fluid in Complex Chinese, here is the English version:

1. Can you talk about what happened in your life or at work that made you decide to interview these thirty designers?

The book was my chance to look into the future. I wanted an inside look at what goes into becoming a successful graphic designer, both from 15 people who had already achieved fame and fortune, and another 15 who were just about to break through.

I wanted to know where they came from, what their families thought of their career choice, what their early challenges were, how they became great. I also wanted to see their early work. I wanted to see the stumbles along with the strides.

I chose 30 designers whose work I admired. Pure and simple.

2. You have mentioned on the last page of the book that a friend suggested you can use the ideas from the foreword that you wrote for the book “tellmewhy” by Hjalti Karlsson + Jan Wilker to write a book. I am really curious about what those ideas are. Can you tell me about them?
My friends Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker asked me to write a page for their book “tellmewhy,” the story of the first two years of their design firm karlssonwilker inc. So I wrote a piece comparing their book to the creation myth of superheroes. Superman comes from the dying planet Krypton, Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spiderman, and Jan and Hjalti start a design firm. I said that this book would be a time capsule of all their early work that they’d later hide from view and never show again—that here would be on-the-record proof of their beginnings.

I sent the article to a friend, who suggested that this would make a good book proposal — showing the early work of famous designers, along with their creation stories — and that I should send it t our mutual friend Kristin Ellison, who was then an editor at Rockport books. Just so she could have a look.

Well, Kristin read the piece and said “We want to publish this book.” Two weeks later I had an offer for a book contract.

3. The designers in this book are located in different parts of the world, They might be in Japan, Brazil, or United Kingdom.  How did you interview these designers who don’t live in Los Angeles?

I interviewed all designers via e-mail, even the ones who live in Los Angeles. I think better in writing myself, so I wanted to give people the time to think about their answers. But it wasn’t just a standard list of questions. I tailored each interview to the person and the interviews went over many rounds.
4. I decided to collect mottos from all the designers when I first started the editing.  I found that James Victore’s mottos are so intriguing.  He’s a storyteller and what he said is philosophic and encouraging.  These designers’ lives give all of us a good lesson.  How did you choose these designers?
James is a very quotable guy, but all of the designers have great insight into their own path. I pushed all of them to be very honest with me, and to share how their work has affected their personal lives. Paul Sahre, in particular, committed himself to being very open. His may be my favorite chapter.

I chose the designers to give a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. I knew some of them personally, others through e-mail, and some I met doing this book, but the common element is that I admire their work and the way they do it.

Are the design pieces in this book collected by the designers themselves or by yourself?
I asked each designer to send me 20 pieces of their early work, five of their “greatest hits, “ and five samples of recent work. Most designers had so much fun looking through their archives that they sent me dozens (some even over a hundred) pieces. I made the selection what pieces to include in the book. I chose the work that I felt would best illustrate their stories.
6. In all your interviews with these 30 designers, is there anything interesting that you didn’t mention in this book?

Oh boy! My interview with Paul White from Me Company could’ve filled half the book. We had such a good time talking about painting and the space program and and and... but I did try to put everything interesting and valuable into the book.

What you can’t see in the book is that I actually “fired” a few people from the book, because they wouldn’t allow me to ask them about private things, or show their less than perfect early work. As much as I admire the work those people do, they weren’t right for the book.
  Many designers show talent of drawing since childhood.  Did you like to make sketches when you were a little kid? 

Oh yes! I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Drawing was (and is) my first love.
 What are your parents’ take on you being a designer?
My parents always loved what I do. They’re very proud, and have gotten fairly good at explaining my strange and time-consuming job to their friends, too. My mom is just happy that I didn’t go into the accounting business like my father. We’re both very competitive, so it’s good that we’re in different fields. :^)

 Can you give us some advice on writing? 

I was very lucky to have many older, smarter pen pals when I was growing up. When I was 12 I started exchanging letters with Elke Imberger, who was then working on her doctoral thesis in history, and is now the deputy archivist of the German state of Schleswig Holstein. I learned how to write from reading her letters. Her writing sounds exactly like the way she talks. That’s always been what I aim for. Early on I tried to put all kinds of fancy words into my writing, because i thought it would impress people. For All Access I set myself the goal of keeping the writing very simple and direct.

I listened to what people had to say, tried to push them when things weren’t clear to me, and then tried to condense what I learned from them into something strong and simple. My editor, Kristen Ellison, also pushed me to cut, cut, cut so that, in the end, there was no fat left, only meat!
You have done the interview, writing and book design for this book completely on your own. Did you present this idea to the publisher?

I came up with the idea for the book, wrote it, did the design, the typesetting. Everything. It’s a one-man effort. That’s why it took me almost two years. I’m a control freak.

Beside the design books, what other types of books do you read? Such as fiction or prose…can you give us some examples?

Oh, I love the books of Douglas Adams, William Gibson, Michael Chabon, P.G. Wodehouse. Adams and Wodehouse, in particular, are masters of language, and very funny, too! I also love the magazine The New Yorker, and the artist profiles by John Lahr, in particular. It’s such wonderful writing every week. There is also a radio program here called “This American Life”  — — fantastic writing!

 You are from Germany, in which city were you  born and raised? 

I was born in Hannover, Germany. When I was six years old we moved to a small town called Rinteln, about an hour outside of Hannover. I lived there until I graduated from high school. Five months later I left for California.
 Why did you choose to go to  the Art Center in Los Angeles to study design?

I wanted to live in Los Angeles. I had fallen in love with the city on two consecutive trips the previous two years. Art Center is the best art school in Los Angeles, so that’s where I went. I felt immediately at home there, more so than I ever did back in Germany, oddly enough. It was home.
14. You grew up in  Europe and you live in the USA, so you have absorbed  two different cultures. Do you think that has influenced your work?
I’m sure it has. I grew up watching American television and movies, listening to American music. Moving here really felt like coming home. But I also absorbed German culture. It’s where I grew up. It’s my first language. So I do have a point of view that’s not German, but not American either. I’m the eternal outsider, and that’s just fine with me. It allows me to connect with many more people than I otherwise would, because I’m not part of their food chain. I’m not a threat to them, and they’re not a threat to me.

Do you like Los Angeles?  Will you stay here forever?
I love Los Angeles with all my heart. I'll stay here as long as I'm welcome.
16. When you work, do you listen to a specific CD  or a specific type of  music?  

When I design, I listen to all kinds of music. When I set type (which is very boring, but takes time and lots of care) I often listen to “This American Life” podcasts online, because they keep me interested and in my chair. When I write I need silence.
When your client is not satisfied with your work like you are how do you deal with the situation/them?  

At this point I’m happy to say that it doesn’t happen much anymore. The people who hire me know what I do and want my voice. But when there’s disagreement, I try to analyze what I’m missing. Usually the problem isn’t the design, but a poorly defined task. And sometimes I walk away. Life is short.
18. Why do you call your design company  344 Design?  Does 344 have any special meaning?

Originally, the company was named 344, because the office is by the intersection of the 134 and 210 freeways — 134 + 210 = 344. Two years after 344 started I designed a calendar and counted the days and found a surprise: I moved to California on December 10th. I celebrate the day as my American Birthday. In a non-leap year December 10th is the 344th day of the year.

19. You said you created/drew a monster every day. Your monster, however, is nothing like what people would considere a monster – big poppy eyes, wide square mouth and a pair of high-heeled feet. It’s really cute. There is no way to trace where this image came from. Did anyone ever say that your monster looks like you?   

The first Monster appeared on my arm when I was driving on the freeway. (I don’t drink alcohol or take drugs. Things just appear to me.) I drew it and had so much fun that I simply didn’t stop.

Stylistically, they’re influenced by classic cartoons, of course, but also by the caricaturists Ralph Steadman and Ronald Searle. They’re heroes of mine. Nobody ever said I look like the Monsters, but if you opened my head, I bet that my brain looks exactly like the Monsters.

20. Have you been to Asia?  Beside Hideki Nakajima, did any other designers attract your attention?

So far, I’ve not had a chance to travel to Asia. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not well educated about the Asian design scene. I’ve admired Hideki Nakajima’s work, and also invited Tadanori Yokoo to the book, but we weren’t able to transcend the language barrier. I’m looking forward to learning more about Asian design, and I hope that your books will help me.
 Would you like to say something to Taiwan’s readers? About this book, about the graphic design? Anything.

Practice Greed Control: Lead a humble life and free yourself of debt. Only when you are no longer bound by obligation can you be truly free in your work. There is no freedom unless you have the power to say “No, thank you” and walk away. And once you have that power, it will be written on your face, and you’ll find that you almost never have to say NO anymore. Then all you have to decide is who to say YES to. And that’s when you’ll start having fun!

Remember: Failure is never as frightening as regret!  

There you have it. News from the Publishing World.

Need I mention that 344 LOVES YOU