18th August, 2011

The Manual

I have been fortunate enough to contribute to numerous publications in my time, but without doubt the contribution I’m most proud of kicks off the beautiful and important first edition of The Manual.

The Manual
The Manual, photographed by Jamie Neely.

It’s been a hectic year, so I can’t even remember when my good friend Andy McMillan first asked me to write for him. In his Letter from the Publisher, Andy begins The Manual with reference to a conversation we had over beers in Brooklyn last October. That was when he first told me about his idea for a book. Right there and then I told him I was producing a newspaper for New Adventures, and after a close fight to the death, we agreed that the world could easily cope with both publications, and more besides.

So, the fruits of our labour are now beautifully bound and shipped. The Manual is now on my desk, and it is a thing of considerable beauty. Within the seductively raw binder’s board covers can be found six deep and expansive articles, along with a “lesson” from each author. The mood is mature, the calls to action strong. The desire to go and do something meaningful after reading is overwhelming.

Beautifully crafted

The Manual drips with the care and attention that its founders are known for. Alongside Andy’s stewardship and vision, the publication benefits from Carolyn Wood‘s unrivalled editorial commitment, and beautiful design across the board from the quietly masterful Jez Burrows. Intertwine custom illustrations from Raymond Biesinger, Owen Gatley, Christopher Gray, Superbrothers, Olimpia Zagnoli, Ping Zhu, and the typographic gazilliance of Jessica Hische and you have something really rather unique.

Our contributions

My article Maturity and the Weight of Learning kicks off the book, and it’s an honest, open call to arms for us designers to better understand our strengths and values, and to consider the importance of craftsmanship in everything we do. I consider the sheer volume of knowledge we’re supposed to wrestle with, and look at how we can explore more strategic and narrow lines of inquiry to prevent our heads from exploding, and hopefully become better designers both for ourselves and our industry at large.

I back this up with my “lesson”, wherein I recall a chance meeting that taught me everything I ever needed to know about being myself and justifying my decisions. I hope that is also in some way inspiring to some of you.

The other contributors all really deliver, in my opinion. There’s re-re-re-readable brilliance from Dan Rubin, Jon Tan, Liz Danzico, The Standardistas, and Frank Chimero. I can’t get enough of this thoughtful, top-level inspiration and honestly think everyone should read this thing as soon as possible.

Missed your copy?

The Manual was successfully funded via Kickstarter, and the team have shipped to everyone who backed them via that site. I’m not entirely sure how everyone else can get a hold of a copy, but I think Andy plans to make more available, so keep an eye on The Manual site and get on their mailing list.

We can also look forward to (I think) three editions each year, so the next one will follow in a few months I hope. Still, let’s not rush them. Content this meaningful takes time to nurture, so whatever happens next will be well worth waiting for.

Always, always, read The Manual.

PS: Jez writes more about his process over on It’s Nice That.

Prev / Next


If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my Internet of Natural Things letter, and maybe grab the RSS feed. Thank you.