Saturday, January 17, 2015


By John Milton 1634
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham 1921

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tom Dixon Bookmark

A very cool, gold anodised digitally cut bookmark by Tom Dixon.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Earliest Ever Slopegraph? (1883)

Prompted by my digging on Slopegraphs, I have pushed even further back than 1914 and found this - from Scribner's statistical atlas of the United States, showing by graphic methods their present condition and their political, social and industrial development by Fletcher W. Hewes and Henry Gannett. Published in 1883. 

The Statistical Atlas for the previous census, published in 1870, did not have a plot like this. 
Available on the Library of Congress website (HERE).

A low resolution version of the whole plot is shown below.

A high-resolution portion of the plot is shown below.

 This is a far more accomplished Slopegraph than Willard Brinton's simplified version from 1914. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts (1914)

An early example of a slopegraph, designed to highlight changes in population over time, created by Willard Cope Brinton - in his book Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts (HERE).

Edward Tufte has a discussion on this type of graphic HERE. According to Tufte a slopegraph; "compares changes over time for a list of nouns located on an ordinal or interval scale".


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Empire Bolt, Nut and Rivet Company

HERE is a hand illustrated history of the Empire Bolt, Nut and Rivet company. Below is a hand rendered and washed image of a Large Semi-Finished Nut.

The Uncommon Life of Common Objects

Akiko Busch is a writer on design, architecture and the everyday items that we live with. her 2005 book The Uncommon Life of Common Objects: Essays on Design and the Everyday has chapters on the design of everyday items; video camera, mobile phone, vegetable peeler, chair, a refrigerator. 

Here is a two-page spread from the book on the backpack.

Image Copyright Akiko Busch.


Monday, January 5, 2015

A Hand Illustrated Walt Whitman by Allen Crawford

A great piece in the Guardian about a hand illustrated and lettered version of Walt Whitman's long poem Song of Myself by Allen Crawford.

Image Copyright A. Crawford.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

George Bickham (Snr) Sot's Paradise 1707.


A great write up HERE on this type of Medley Print.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

View from the Top

Looking across to Flintshire and the Welsh hills from Caldy Hill.

Image Copyright M.Reed 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014


The Book of Tea  was written in 1906 was written in English by the Japanese writer Okakura Kakuzo. It reflects on tea and the relation between this important drink and elements of the aesthetic and cultural in Japanese life.

HERE is a beautiful 1919 version with illustrations.

Friday, November 28, 2014

With all that Sea and Skies and Land May Lend

I have just completed a book with a friend of mine called Jonathan.

We had both read Holloway by Robert Macfarlane, Dan Richards and Stanley Holloway during last year and over a meal last December set ourselves the target of writing and printing our own short illustrated book. 

I had already been writing a short personal essay on a circular walk that I had been doing for about 15 years and everything that I thought about and experienced on the walk. Prompted by my descriptions and the locations themselves, Jonathan went off and created about 15 pen and ink / watercolour illustrations for the essay.

The title of the essay is a line from the poem Careless by George Sterling (1869-1926), which was first published in the August 1921 edition of The Bookman. Sterling was an American poet and playwright who founded an artists colony in Carmel, on the Monterey peninsula in California. His friends called him the ‘uncrowned King of Bohemia’.

Below is the front cover, illustrated by Jonathan.

I designed the book and typeset the text using LATEX. A typical two-page spread is below. 

I have just had a short-run of the books digitally printed and bound by Imprint Digital in Devon. Some of the books will be given out this year as Xmas gifts, who knows, some may even be sold. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Seven essential qualities of Open Source

Seven essential qualities of open source - HERE.




Early French Photography

A volume published for an exhibition held at the Alfred Stieglitz Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Nov. 17-Dec. 28, 1969 (HERE).

Thursday, November 20, 2014



For more Animated Creativity see HERE.

Public Domain Review Essays

The Public Domain Review is an excellent website that specialises in long form pieces that are inspired by, and illustrated with, materials from long out of print and out of copyright books that are available online in the public domain - including materials from the Internet Archive. The site is reviewed (and praised) by the Guardian HERE.

They have just set up a publishing imprint to create physical books based on their essays and their first book is out - The Book of Selected Essays 2011-2013

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Norwegian Passport

The Norwegian design agency Neue has just finished designing a new passport and ID card for the Norwegian Government. The designs try and capture the essence of Norway.

Below an image of the inside of the passport normally and under UV light - when the Northern Lights appear.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bickham's British Monarchy (1743)

The British monarchy: : or, A new chronographical description of all the dominions subject to the King of Great Britain. Comprehending the British Isles, the American Colonies, the electoral states, the African and Indian settlements. And enlarging more particularly on the respective counties of England and Wales. To which are added, alphabets in all hands made use of in this book. The whole illustrated with suitable maps and tables ... and engrav'd (1743) 


George Bickham





Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cross Section of Walled City of Kowloon

One of the strangest illustrations I have ever seen is this Japanese cross-sectional image of the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong.

A hi-resolution version is HERE.

Alphabets, numerals & devices of the Middle Ages (1843)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Venice 1904

The following collection of images is from Venice by the Australian artist Mortimer Menpes, 1904.

Friday, October 17, 2014

February by Viktor Olgyai

From HERE.

From the volume:
Viktor Olgyai studied under William Unger in Vienna and under Theodore Alphonse in Paris. As he originally intended to devote himself entirely to the graphic arts, and only later took up oil-painting, his technical knowledge of etching is remarkable. He is pre-eminently a draughtsman, and though his plates are finely toned, the most notable thing about them is their sense of line. Some of his best works are contained in an album of ten plates entitle 'Winter,' and other notable ones are The Oak, The Mill and Way of Cypresses
Further information about the artist from the Imperial War Museum:
Victor Olgyai (1870-1929) was born in Igló in Hungary. He worked as a painter and designer, and taught at the Graphics Department of the College of Fine Arts in Budapest. He died in Salzburg, Austria.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Everyman Wins Stirling Prize!

I have been going to the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool for 35 years. 
It is a key part of the cultural life of Liverpool. 
It was recently re-built from scratch and it is superb.
Tonight it won the RIBA Stirling award.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a ship. How old is the captain?

The ex Cambridge University physicist and educator Sanjoy Mahajan (of Streetfighting Mathematics renown), has been busy with an outfit called Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) which is here

Mahajan has continued his interests in teaching maths and physics without rote learning methods - building on the pioneering work of Louis Benezet (1935), Etta Berman (1935) and Harold Fawcett (1938) also re-counted in Flener (2001) HERE

His latest at the CCR is the following PDF - Maths, Methods & Tools. 

Earlier proposals and great references are HERE

It's great to see that he is still going strong and bringing our attention to the shortcomings of rote learning.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

La Tour St. Jacques

Eugène Béjot (1867 – 1931) was a French artist who specialised in drawing and etching.

Below - from Paris: a sketch book (1912)


Image Copyright M.G. Reed 2014


Copyright M.G. Reed 2014

Postcards from Google Earth

Here is a great site. A collection of wierd images from Google Earth - collected by the Brooklyn based artist Clement Valla. 

From the INFO:

I collect Google Earth images. I discovered strange moments where the illusion of a seamless representation of the Earth’s surface seems to break down. At first, I thought they were glitches, or errors in the algorithm, but looking closer I realized the situation was actually more interesting — these images are not glitches. They are the absolute logical result of the system. They are an edge condition—an anomaly within the system, a nonstandard, an outlier, even, but not an error. These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software. They reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion; Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Four Hedges - Claire Leighton

Clare Leighton (1898 - 1989) was an English artist who created in the 1930's a number of beautiful illustrated books. The image below is from her book Four Hedges - A Gardener's Chronicle published in 1935. A facsimile edition is still available HERE.

Image from the incomparable


Costume for the Shibaraku interlude - Totoya Hokkei c 1850


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Photocopier in Art

The American author and artist Pati Hill (1921-2014) died recently. After writing a number of novels she became interested in the visual arts and focused on the IBM photocopier as an artistic device (later persuading IBM to lend her one). 

An obituary in the New York Times HERE and article in Paris Review HERE.

Below a detail from one of her famous installations from 1978 that comprised of 34 Black and White photocopies of a dead swan she had found.

Image from HERE - where in 2016 there will be a retrospective of her art.

Her book on Photocopying art Letters To Jill  was published in 1979 (HERE). 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Dimensions of a Hand

From the 1528 volume of human figure proportion by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Full scan of the volume HERE.

For more studies by Durer of hands in various gestures see HERE.

For an article on what Durer was up to in his books of human proportion see HERE.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is the high point of Byzantine architecture. The current structure was completed in 532, it remained the largest cathedral in the world for 1,000 years. 

Image from HERE

Basho's Haiku

An interesting piece HERE by the poet Mark McGuiness, on a book that was published in 1990 by Toshiharu Oseko that translates line by line, and word by word, what the Haiku of the famous Japanese poet Basho mean.

A review of the book from the Independent is HERE.

Image from HERE.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Keep It Simple (Stupid)

KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid, a design principle developed by the US Navy in the 1960's. "The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided".  

Keep It Simple is also the title of a book by Hartmut Esslinger published in 2013. Esslinger founded Frog design and was the creator of Apple Computers design strategy. The book describes Esslinger's work with Apple, during which time they were transformed from a Silicon Valley start-up to a global player in consumer electronics. 

The book is available HERE.

A vision of Fujiyama

Original Image from HERE

Friday, September 12, 2014

Man O' War

Great images HERE by Aaron Ansarov of Portugese Man O' War.

Image Copyright Aaron Ansarov.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Beauty of Code

Recently it has become quite trendy to argue that learning how to write computer code is an important part of a broad education. I understand the aspiration, but the reality is that learning to write in a computing language is quite demanding and on the whole is only worth it if there is a substantial problem you need to solve. 

I used to write C code to solve problems in image and data analysis and for Monte Carlo simulations. I developed my own programming style, influenced largely by the Numerical Recipes books. 

When you have a problem to solve and you solve it by writing code it can be a very satisfying experience. The focused concentration required to balance the logical constraints of the computing language (essentially mathematical logic) and the needs of the problem counts for me as an example of really creative work. 

One of the best essays I have ever read on writing computer code has just been published by Vikram Chandra on The Paris Review (HERE). It is an extract from his book Geek Sublime.

This essay does not pre-suppose that you have programmed anything, yet somehow communicates something of the flavour of the activity.

Image copyright M.G. Reed 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New Phylum found off coast of Australia.

Immediately below the level of Kingdom in the hierarchical classification of all of life on Earth is the level of Phylum. The whole of the Animal kingdom has 35 Phyla and all plant life 12. So the whole of Earths biodiversity is captured by less than 50 Phyla.

Until now. 

A recently published paper in PLoS One (HERE) describes two species within a new Phylum of organisms that were dredged up near Australia in 1986. 


A new genus, Dendrogramma, with two new species of multicellular, non-bilaterian, mesogleal animals with some bilateral aspects, D. enigmatica and D. discoides, are described from the south-east Australian bathyal (400 and 1000 metres depth). A new family, Dendrogrammatidae, is established for Dendrogramma. These mushroom-shaped organisms cannot be referred to either of the two phyla Ctenophora or Cnidaria at present, because they lack any specialised characters of these taxa. Resolving the phylogenetic position of Dendrogramma depends much on how the basal metazoan lineages (Ctenophora, Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria, and Bilateria) are related to each other, a question still under debate. At least Dendrogramma must have branched off before Bilateria and is possibly related to Ctenophora and/or Cnidaria. Dendrogramma, therefore, is referred to Metazoa incertae sedis. The specimens were fixed in neutral formaldehyde and stored in 80% ethanol and are not suitable for molecular analysis. We recommend, therefore, that attempts be made to secure new material for further study. Finally similarities between Dendrogramma and a group of Ediacaran (Vendian) medusoids are discussed.


Just J, Kristensen RM, Olesen J (2014) Dendrogramma, New Genus, with Two New Non-Bilaterian Species from the Marine Bathyal of Southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa incertae sedis) – with Similarities to Some Medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara. PLoS ONE 9(9): e102976. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102976

Below - one of the sketches from the paper coloured in for fun.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Central Teaching Lab - University of Liverpool

Image Copyright M.G. Reed 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Treasure in the Forest

W.A. Dwiggins was an American commercial artist, calligrapher, type designer and book illustrator. 

A two page spread from The Treasure in the Forest H.G. Wells 1936 Press of the Wooly Whale, Boston. Image from HERE.

The essay / prose poem by Wells was published in The Stolen Bacillus and other Incidents - eBook version HERE

Monday, August 25, 2014

Seisho yoroku 1898

Bonsai from a catalogue of an exhibition Seisho yoroku that was organized by Kurokawa Shinzaburo and others in March 1897.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Poem about Sugar

The Japanese Zen master Kokan Shiren (1278–1347) inspired the development of the Japanese rock garden and Bonasai with his short essay; Rhymeprose on a Miniature Landscape Garden.
Kokan was also a renowned calligrapher. The image below is a Poem about Sugar from the mid 1300's. 

 For more on this poem see HERE.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Josef Albers - A Retrospective

Josef Albers was a German born artist (HERE).

Below is a two-page spread from an extensive retrospective of his work from 1988, which is of course available in its entirety on the Internet Archive.

Below is one of a long series of abstract works with similar titles, this one is called Homage to the Square (1963):

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pictorial Knowledge - page spreads

All text copyright M.G. Reed 2014


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