The NDA Book
Occasionally, I’m asked to work for high profile clients and institutions under the cover of a non-disclosure agreement. This case was unusual in that even presenting my work was covered by a strict NDA. I can’t tell you who asked to see my work. I can tell you that they asked me to put together a book showing ten examples of my work that outline my career so far.
I’m pretty sure that the intent of their request was a standard agency presentation book. I’ve done a number of these as a subcontractor to advertising agencies like [redacted] pitching to prominent clients like [redacted]. But the people asking for this book hold special meaning to me, and I decided to go all out. They asked for a book, I’d give them a book. Collaborating with my friends at Typecraft and Roswell Bookbinding I put together a 160-page mini-monograph of 344 Design.
Let’s deal with the obvious first: This book has a Yeti pop-up. I figured that my work would be reviewed in the same room with a lot of other books full of impressive work done by much bigger names. To stand out, I made a book that had the best chance of looking and feeling very different from the others—a book that was likely much smaller in format, but much heavier, and a book that made a bit of a spectacle of itself. An extravagant book.
If any of the people on the selection committee opened my book and came to the Yeti page… well, my hope was that they’d laugh, and that somebody on the other side of the room would see the Yeti pop-up and ask, “Wait… what? What’s that one about?” Needless to say, the back of the Yeti pop-up featured a photo of the back of the Yeti. This book has a Yeti butt pop-up. And that Yeti butt is cute.
Below you’ll find a few sample spreads. I’m fortunate to have had an intensely varied career so far, so it was difficult to choose ten projects that give a full image of what I do. Much had to fall by the wayside, but parameters are parameters. Here is the selection I made:
As you can see, even condensed to ten projects, it’s a lot to process in a session where several firms are evaluated side by side. I like to think of books as movies on paper. Pacing is important, so the table of contents is followed by a brief moment of tranquility:
That’s a photo of a lake on the outskirts of the little town I grew up in. My parents loved walking around this lake. I took this picture on one of the last walks I took with my dad before he passed, and I still walk around it with my mom when I visit her. There was no room in the book to start all the way at the beginning of my career, but for me this image serves as an emotional connection to going door to door selling ads to local shops.
Each project section starts with a brief introduction, but if you look more closely, these spreads offer some Easter eggs. In a nod to my first book—All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers—each project is pinned to a timeline of my life, so the reader can understand its place in my career.
The intro spreads also explain the design of the cover—ten projects that are connected through my involvement, and together form a molecule that makes up my portfolio so far:
Another little Easter egg is hidden among the page numbers:
As you can see from the main image, the fore-edges of the book are painted black. I love that look, and it’s a relatively easy addition to the production process. But the real finishing touch is that the book is bound with red thread. If Louboutin can put red soles under his shoes, then I can have my book sewn with red thread.
Sadly, I didn’t win this particular pitch. But based on past experience, I’ll bet you that in a few years I’ll get a call from somebody who was in that room. That tends to be how it happens, and I love that about my work.