Alissa Walker

Writer / United States /

Alissa Walker’s Notable Books of 2012

2 books
Mike Monteiro

In my Notable Books of 2011 list, I mentioned A Book Apart, a new publishing company focused on creating short, useful books on designing websites. The latest volume is by Mike Monteiro, the San Francisco-based designer-slash-Twitter personality, which actually goes far beyond the web-design realm, and serves as an excellent primer for running a design business, or, I'd argue, any type of creative business. Easily devoured in an afternoon, the book is made even more enjoyable by Monteiro's refreshingly honest tough-love approach (not surprising from a man who gives lectures with his lawyer and is known for creating a painting that reads “Fuck You, Pay Me”). So many books like this are written by accounting types who want to “help” creatives, so Monteiro's work is long overdue: he's translated business basics back into the language of designers. And he does it with such a skillful sense of humor that it proves his other point: Running a business, like reading this book, can and should be fun.

Frank Chimero

I first wrote about Frank Chimero's book over a year ago, when he mounted an incredible Kickstarter campaign to fund it. Chimero raised over $112,000, funding his project in four hours, then going on to almost triple his goal. The book gets so many things right before you even get to the words: it's a beautifully designed, hardback, self-published (in the U.S.!) entrepreneurial success, which made me want to buy it just so I could see the result. But the actual writing is also fantastic. Chimero offers intelligent meditations on the motivation for designing, and looks far outside of the design world for examples, drawing anecdotes from musicians and chefs, and illustrating theories with references ranging from 18th-century haiku masters to Wall-E. Chimero writes a lot about the connections between design and jazz, and that's what his writing reminds me of most: it’s lyrical, rhythmic, soulful. It was a book that I didn't want to end.

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