Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art and Culture

My first book, Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art, and Culture was published in August 2010 by Princeton Architectural Press. The collection presents 29 new and classic (remixed and remastered) text tracks—the majority of which first appeared in Emigre—covering critical essays, speculations, polemics, memoirs, ficciones, and more about and around the subtitled topics. The articles address subjects such as: the roles of class in design, design education, Lester Bangs and Creem magazine, pornography, album cover art, independent record labels, anonymity and imaginary creative identities, and design as cultural chaos-maker. In addition to an extensive introduction, the book also features “Liner Notes” by Emigre magazine editor/designer Rudy VanderLans. The book also boasts an eye and mind-provoking design by Jiwon Lee.

And as an extra (or a preview), you can download a PDF of the book’s full index here.

“Graphic design embraces some great writers, but few display Kenneth’s combination of bite, wordplay, wit, and overall pop culture knowledge. Perhaps due to his position as an outsider, he never pulls any punches.…When we stopped publishing Emigre magazine, not receiving a steady diet of Kenneth’s writing was what I missed the most.” —Rudy VanderLans (from his “Liner Notes.”)

“A real treat, this, a whole book of essays by one of the most distinctive and, at times, idiosyncratic writers to bring his sights to bear on visual communication. FitzGerald’s ambitious pieces were a highlight during Emigre’s middle and later years; I always wished he would publish more widely. Volume shows what graphic design writing can do when it stops fretting so much about the narrowly professional issues that keep it earth-bound and obvious, and allows itself elbow room to improvise and riff.” Rick Poynor

Kenneth FitzGerald’s Volume: Writing on Graphic Design, Music, Art and Culture is an important addition to the library of graphic design writing … FitzGerald is a fine writer with a gift for potent phrases … His prose is agile, unmannered, and always at the service of strong ideas born out of wide reading and deep engagement with contemporary culture, of both high and low varieties (look out for references to Thomas Pynchon and Garth Brooks). In other words, he’s highly readable. Adrian Shaughnessy, Design Observer

“FitzGerald is still an incisive, fiercely clever writer. To former Emigre subscribers, reading this book recalls the excitement and debate that each new issue prompted when it entered classrooms and studios…And as yet, there are few voices echoing FitzGerald’s plainspoken, pragmatic approach to design writing. Where is today’s counterpart to Emigre? Who are today’s Kenneth FitzGeralds? These questions linger, and if anything, the publication of Volume makes them seem more pressing than ever.” — Elizabeth Guffey, Editor, Design and Culture

“Kenneth FitzGerald’s writing constitutes a truly original voice among the small group of proper design critics. His essays on design and culture are intelligent—possibly the reason he’s been so critical of our work.”  Stefan Sagmeister

“Kenneth FitzGerald’s writing is to design criticism as the harpoon was to Ahab; they are both deft weapons of existential inquiry.” Elliott Earls

“If, like me, you miss the writings of Kenneth FitzGerald you can get the best and some new ones in this lovely compilation, Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art, and Culture.” —Armin Vit, Quipsologies

“Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art, and Culture, is excellent. I found it in the mail when I got home at midnight and by 2am I’d already dog-eared several pages and the margins were full of notes. If you are at all into reading serious commentary on design, Kenneth’s work is engaging, enjoyable and enlightening.” —Marc English, Design Shaman

Volume, the new collection of writings by Kenneth FitzGerald, is an entertaining, erudite and accessible account of the the US design critic’s abiding interest in the relationship between graphic design, music and art.” —Paul Gorman, author of Reasons To Be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles

“Volume: Writings on Graphic Design, Music, Art & Culture is an outstanding selection focusing on volume – sound, collections, and space – in the arts. It provides both new and classic writings by educator Kenneth FitzGerald that survey graphic design’s connections with other art mediums, offering a range of topics on everything from independent record labels to creating and marketing artistic identities, modern music’s influence and relationship to fine arts and graphics, and more. A pick for any arts or graphic arts collection!”Midwest Book Review

volume cover 2