Creative Anarchy: A book review by Bob Morris

Creatve AnarchyCreative Anarchy: How to Break the Rules of Graphic Design for Creative Success
Denise Bosler
HOW Books (23015)

How and why the best design is “barely noticeable because it works seamlessly into its environment and for its audience”

Some human activities require that the given rules be strictly followed or there could be serious, perhaps fatal consequences. For example, driving at a high rate of speed on the wrong side of a limited access highway. When engaged in other activities, rules are actually guidelines: whether or not they are followed depends on the given circumstances. This is especially true of the creative and performing arts.

After demonstrating his mastery of fundamentals in less than an hour, during an interview process that normally lasts several days, Pablo Picasso was accepted as a student by Madrid’s Royal Academy of San Fernando, at that time the foremost art school in Spain. He was 15 years-old. Later, he observed, “You must learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

The highly unorthodox, genuinely exciting design of this book demonstrates the truth of the Denise Bosler observation that serves as the subject of this review. The material is presented within two Parts: Learn the Rules, and, Break the Rules. I was surprised to find, when reaching the conclusion of Part 1, that Part 2 is upside down. Later, when I finished Part 2, I found that Part 1 was….

No doubt its format breaks several traditional rules but so what? It got my attention. In fact, when I discovered it, I let out a whoop! The production values of the book are superior, comparable with the classic volumes published Abrams from 1959 until the firm was purchased by La Martinière Groupe in 1997.

Credit designer Claudean Wheeler and production coordinator Greg Nock for this book’s superior production values. In fact, the coordination and correlation of text with design/illustration are seamless. In fact, they are interdependent. Also, I commend Bosler on her brilliant presentation of material with a writing style that has snap, crackle, and pop as well as grace. Bravo!

These are among the passages of greatest interest to me:


o Why Design Matters, Why Design Rules Matter, & Why Creative Anarchy? (Pages 1-4)

Part 1: Learn the Rules

o Idea generation (Pages 13-16)
o Design basics (17-26)
o Contrast (25-26)
o Typography (27-43)
o Colors (44-49)
o Gestalt principles of design (67-72)
o Ego-free designer (73-77)
o Moderate-safe design (78-79)

Part 2: Break the Rules

o Gallery of advertising and advertisements (Pages 16-17)
o Branding (23-29)
o Examples of branding (30-40)
o Gallery of posters (51-58)
o Gallery of publication design (68-79)
o Gallery of packaging (107-115)
o Interactive design (120-123)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mind can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Denise Bosler provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of this book. If you agree with me after you read it, I commend to your attention another volume, Rotman on Design: The Best on Design Thinking from Rotman Magazine, co-edited by Roger Martin and Karen Christensen.

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