A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good

Overview

Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color.

A fabulous and fun introduction to the concepts of design

A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good takes a most creative approach to introducing young (and not-so-young) readers to the fundamental elements of design. Using simple shapes, lines, and a sense of humor, this book explains why complicated doesn't make it good-and why that ...

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Overview

Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color.

A fabulous and fun introduction to the concepts of design

A Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Good takes a most creative approach to introducing young (and not-so-young) readers to the fundamental elements of design. Using simple shapes, lines, and a sense of humor, this book explains why complicated doesn't make it good-and why that matters. Mark Gonyea opens up the world of design and makes it accessible to young artists and non-artists alike.

A Children's Book-of-the-Month Club Selection

A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cartoonist Gonyea eschews complexity in this design primer, but unfortunately simplicity "doesn't make it good" either. He begins promisingly with the statement that "Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color," but seems not to notice that he has his hands full; a curious young reader might reasonably wonder, "What's perception?" In 10 brief chapters (which lack a table of contents), Gonyea visually demonstrates how "You can't change one piece [of a composition] without affecting all the other pieces," yet certain basics such as the color wheel go without mention in the minimalist spreads. The central points are practical but debatable ("Warm colors are aggressive and advance./ Cool colors are passive and retreat"), and the ostensibly harmonious image of a smooth orange rocket on a blue ground looks static, even when the artist introduces jazzy patterns to its balanced components. It's telling that Gonyea does not select this rather staid spaceship visual for the book's cover, and instead confronts readers with a jarring picture-a smiley-face bull's-eye hybrid in primary colors-that he purposely overcomplicates. This self-consciously busy image may have its faults, but it's also the book's most eye-catching picture. Even the title, which seems to have switched places with the subtitle, implicitly questions Gonyea's logic. Ages 9-up. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-Starting with two circles, one red and one green, symmetrically arranged against a field of white, Gonyea shows how changes in size, shape, and color alter perception. In 10 brief chapters, he covers concepts such as the difference between straight and diagonal lines, the usefulness of using a 1:3:9 design ratio, the clarity of contrast, and the impact of warm and cool colors. One of his strongest examples pits a traditional smiley face against a psychedelic version, reinforcing the subtitle. Less successful is the chapter "Letters Are Shapes Too," in which he pairs some letters with design terms. For example, he states "A is for Angles," but doesn't show or describe what angles are and why they're worth mentioning. By way of conclusion, the author builds a scene with planets and a spaceship, reviewing his major points. His minimalist approach to text and composition makes this book an effective advertisement for his message about the beauty of uncluttered design. It also makes the title accessible to children who are able to grasp the visual impact of formal elements, but are not yet ready to deal with the psychological effects as explored by Molly Garrett Bang in Picture This: How Pictures Work (North-South, 2000). The humorous tone and hands-on approach add to the appeal and usefulness of an offering on an important topic about which little else exists.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A clean, clear, lighthearted look at the communicative clout of color, contrast and contour. With a playful wink and lots of white space, Gonyea speaks directly to readers, inviting engagement as a vehicle to understanding fundamentals of design while allowing bright, bold graphics to speak for themselves. Ellipses and parenthetical asides affect a cozy, conspiratorial tone. Amusing, sometimes enigmatic chapter headings like "1:3:9" (an exponential ratio of weight and balance in composition) introduce dynamic demonstrations that prove the power of the purposeful arrangement of the parts of a picture. Heeding its own advice and avoiding highfalutin' theory, this pithy, deceptively simple work is far more visual than verbal (under 450 words), offering an experience in graphic communication rather than a treatise. Artists, educators and other fans of Molly Bang's bible, Picture This (2000), will delight in this energetic treatment of the whys and wherefores of relationship and relativity in illustration and will want it in core collections. It should find a place in every collection. (Nonfiction. 6+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805075755
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Gonyea was born in upstate New York and spent the majority of his childhood consuming cartoons, video games, and monster movies. Little did he realize this was to be the essential groundwork for a career in cartooning and graphic design. He lives in Vermont.

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