Category Archives: General Art and Culture

Artist Spotlight: Andy Warhol

Pop art is in the news, as Campbell’s Soup introduces limited-edition labels for its tomato soup inspired by Andy Warhol’s famous piece “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans”.  Fifty years after his rise to popularity, Andy Warhol’s influence on art and pop culture is still being felt.  Want to learn more?  Check out these great books about this great American artist.

Before Warhol was the biggest name in of the Sixties art scene, he was your average commercial artist.  He was often commissioned to illustrate for top fashion magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Mademoiselle.  Fashion collects these charming early sketches and illustrations and gives an interesting view into the remarkably ordinary early career of the twentieth century’s most outrageous artist.

The Andy Warhol Show is a catalog from an exhibition of Warhol’s later, more well-known works during 1960s.  Instead of a simple collection of images that even the most casual fans have seen before, this book gives valuable context and critique to the pieces in the exhibition.  It’s like having a tour guide with you as you walk through the pages of the exhibit.

After immersing yourself in Warhol’s work, why not read up on the artist himself?  Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties is a biography of not only Warhol, but of his entire artist collective known as “The Factory”.  The book uses research, anecdotes, pictures, and quotes from the members of the group to paint a picture of this innovative tribe of creative people as well as the decade that shaped them.

But don’t take other people’s word for it; why not go straight to the source?  Andy Warhol’s book about, well, Andy Warhol, is a behind-the-scenes, tell-all book about his life during the factory days.  It’s not strictly an autobiography or memoir, since he talks equally about himself as he does the other artists and personalities he worked with.  It is, however, thoroughly entertaining and fascinating to read about this unique group of people and the equally distinct art they created together.

Major Literature

Summertime and reading a good book seem to go hand in hand.  If the only book you’ve picked up in the last few months is a textbook, it’s time to come to the library and pick up your own summer reading book.  The following great reads are as unique as the programs offered on our campus.

Chuck Palahniuk’s book Invisible Monsters will wake you up from the boredom of constant textbook reading.  This book, from the author of Fight Club, follows a fashion model who is horribly disfigured in a freak auto accident.  Her downward spiral and self-discovery as she travels across the country with a drag queen and his companion will keep your eyes glued to the page.  Along with all the unpredictable twists and turns, you’ll find a story that deals with the harsh realities of gender and beauty.

Swinging from one end of the heroine spectrum to the other, Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre is the epitome of the Victorian novel.  While the soap opera-esque plot revolving around the downtrodden, self-proclaimed “plain” Jane and the brooding, mysterious Mr. Rochester is reason enough to read this book, we confess that the cover art is our favorite part.  It was designed by designer Coralie Bickford-Smith as part of Penguin’s Clothbound Classics series.  This is one situation where it’s perfectly okay to judge a book by its cover.

The idea of expressing love through food takes on special meaning in Laura Esquivel’s book Like Water for Chocolate.  The book tells the story of the De La Garza family and the enduring yet forbidden love between Tita and Pedro.  However, food is the driving force of this novel: the characters infuse their meals with love, sadness, or whatever emotion they are feeling while cooking, producing intense results for those who eat it.  It’s a magical tale of the power of food in everyday life.

If you were ever a moody teenage girl, and haven’t read Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, you have some required reading to do.  Esther, a summer intern at a top fashion magazine in New York City, becomes deeply depressed and disillusioned with life, eventually attempting suicide.  After several tries, Esther finally meets a doctor who helps her fight the crippling depression that nearly cost her her life.  Plath’s coming-of-age novel puts a spotlight not only on clinical depression, but also on the problematic way creative women are treated in our society.

Clip Art Books

Do you know about the library’s clip art collection?  If not, get in to the library immediately and take a look, because it will change your life.  Well, maybe not, but it will definitely be the best part of your day.  It’s a collection of books with clip art images on a huge range of topics, themes, and uses.  Each book comes with a CD, allowing you to view the images from the book on a computer.  You can manipulate the images, use them electronically or print them.  The best part?  Since they’re clip art, the images are copyright-free (be sure to read the details in each book, but this is generally the case).

Here’s a selection of some of the awesome books you can find in the clip art collection.  As always, you can check out these books (or any other awesome finds in this collection) for two weeks with your AiMD student ID card.



Old Time Cats:

“Mad” About Interior Design

The TV show Mad Men has become popular not only because of its brilliant writing and engaging characters, but also because of its impeccable recreation of 1960s-era design.  Let’s take a look at some of the designers and styles that you may find while watching your new favorite TV show.

The 1960s saw a revolution in office design, mainly thanks to Herman Miller.  This long-time Michigan company is the father of classic twentieth-century office design.  Classic Herman Miller includes information on the company’s most talented designers, including Charles and Ray Eames, Robert Propst, and George Nelson.  It also includes original catalog photos of some of their more famous designs, including the revolutionary 1968 Action Office 2.  If you’re a Herman Miller fan and want to learn even more, check out their design blog — it has tons of great design ideas as well as info on their past and current designers.

Life doesn’t end at the office, as fans of Don Draper know.  Furniture & Interiors of the 1960s takes a look at design techniques for the home.  The book covers some of the wackier designs that we associate with the sixties, like the use of plastic and sculpted foam with furniture.  The book also does a nice job covering the more mainstream styles of this era.  It also describes the rise of “cash and carry” retail stores, such as Ikea and Habitat.  Overall, the book gives a great visual overview of 1960s interior design.

Making a sweet throw pillow to go with your new marshmallow couch?  Check out the textiles of Marimekko.  The Finnish company’s large graphic prints are usually associated with fashion, but have seen popularity in the interior design field as well.  The book Marimekko: Fabrics Fashion Architecture takes a more scholarly approach to the company’s history and influence, and covers both fashion and interior design usage.

Members of the upper-crust  in the swinging 60s called David Hicks when their house needed a touch of style.  This famous interior designer loved to mix traditional and contemporary 1960s style.  David Hicks: A Life of Design, written by his son Ashley, details this British designer’s life.  Most of the pictures of rooms and apartments Hicks designed were taken shortly before the publication of the book — meaning his designs were so good that Hicks’ original design was preserved through the years.

Magazines You Need to Know

Too often people look at magazines as a way to waste time or occupy themselves while waiting for something. However, some magazines are just too good to be relegated to waiting-room tables. Here’s a selection of unique magazines that you will definitely not find in the checkout lane of your local grocery store. You know where you will find them? On the periodical wall of the AiMD library!

Worn is an independent Canadian fashion journal that focuses on the culture, history, and deeper meanings behind fashion. As they describe themselves on their website, their “content is not time or location specific.” Instead of being stuffy and boring, though, this magazine is quirky and fun and makes you want to learn more about the fashion community and its roots. To give you an idea of the flavor of this journal, their current issue includes a photo essay of designers re-creating stylish pictures of their mothers. The best part about Worn? If you are a fashion student, you can submit your original writing to their editors to potentially be published!

A new addition to our interior design subscriptions is Atomic Ranch. This magazine specializes in all things mid-century modern.  It showcases houses that have been restored to this classic 1950s-era style, as well as provides vendor information and tips on how to re-create the look in your own home. This month’s issue has a tutorial on how to make a vintage-inspired dog bed. Their website also has a great directory of web resources of mid-century modern designers, architects, and conservation groups across the country.

Computer Music is a magazine that students in the audio program will love. This magazine is aimed at musicians as well as producers — basically anyone that uses computer software to create music. It includes in-depth articles, tutorials, and interviews with cutting-edge leaders in the field. On top of all that, it comes with a CD with free software and files. This month’s issue includes a copy of Dune CM, a “powerful and superb-sounding hybrid synth for PC and Mac”, as well as 892 musical and sounds samples that can be downloaded to your computer or flash drive.

One of the most unique titles you will run across in the AiMD library is Lucky Peach. Lucky Peach is a culinary journal. However, just like Worn, Lucky Peach doesn’t necessarily focus on recipes or the latest new restaurants. Instead, it examines the culture of food and the issues surrounding the culinary field. Some of the articles analyze serious issues, like the rise of the TV chef. Other pieces are a bit more fun, like the historical timeline of chocolate cakes with gooey centers. One thing is guaranteed: this magazine will make you smile, laugh, and think. Just maybe not all in the same article.

Remember, just like our books, you are welcome to check out back issues of our many magazines and journals for two weeks. Be sure to bring your student ID!

Comics on Campus!

Are you one of the many comic art fans on campus?  Are you in dire need of awesome books about comic books, artists, manga, etc.?  Never fear!  The AiMD library has lots of great books that are sure to please both casual and die-hard fans of this artistic genre.

You may have noticed an extremely heavy addition to the AiMD library collection called 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.  Fans of DC Comics or comic book history in general will fall in love with this book.  If you decide to come in and take a look at it, give yourself plenty of time: the illustrations and depth of coverage are so great that you may end up late for class!  Another great book for history buffs is The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art 1895-2010.

The library also has entire books devoted to your favorite comic artist.  For example, if you’re a Marvel reader, you may be interested in our books on specific Marvel artists and comics-based movies.  If DC Comics is more your taste, take a look at Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes.  His distinct style puts female characters in the spotlight.  Prefer your comics a little on the dark side?  Take a look at Frank Miller’s The Art of Sin City or Mike Mignola’s The Art of Hellboy.

Perhaps you fancy yourself a comics scholar and want to know more about this pop culture phenomenon.  The library still has you covered!  Read about the hysteria surrounding comic books that gripped the nation in the mid-1950s in The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America.  Discover how the comics genre has mirrored 20th century American history and culture in Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America.  Interested in the role women have played on the page?  Check out The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines.

After reading all these books, are you ready to sit down and create your own fabulous art?  Before you break out your pencils and ink, pick up a few books from the library.  Books by Burne Hogarth or Michael Mattesi are a  good place to start.  If you want to learn how to draw a particular style of comic, take a look at our books on manga and noir comics.  Finally, learn how to use all your new drawing skills to create a story with Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative.

Thinking about menswear

With the Academy Awards just days ago, many news web sites are abuzz over the fashion choices of the attendees. The Academy Awards offer fashion stylists a wonderful opportunity to showcase their talent. It also seems to be the one major event that promotes discussion of men’s fashion as much as it does women’s fashion. The New York Times recently published “How to Wear a Tux” on its Fashion & Style page. In this article, author Guy Trebay discusses traditional expectations of tuxedo styling and fit, as well as how to tastefully “break the rules”.

What are your thoughts on men’s tuxedo styling? Do you think it is okay when men add their own touches, such as wearing tennis shoes or a black shirt? If you are interested in reading more about menswear and the styling of men’s fashion, the library has many books on the subject:

Modern menswear / Hywel Davies

Dressing the man : mastering the art of permanent fashion / Alan Flusser

100 years of menswear / Cally Blackman

A Well-Dressed Gentleman’s Pocket Guide / Oscar Lenius





Art and Architecture, Detroit-Style

A fantastic National Geographic Traveler article about Detroit has been making the social media rounds this week.  The article tells of the city’s budding renaissance, while pointing out to the reader the many artistic and architectural jewels of the city.  If you haven’t read this article yet, then what are you waiting for?  If you have read the article and want to know more about our fair city, look no further than your AiMD library!

One thing the author stresses in his article is the incredible architectural heritage of Detroit.  For example, the article mentions Mies Van Der Rohe’s involvement in the creation of Lafayette Park, as well as the abundance of 1920s and Art Deco architecture.  The author also shares his first impression upon walking into the lobby of the famous Guardian Building.  You can go further than the lobby in the book The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance.  Discover even more about the history of Detroit’s architecture with American City: Detroit Architecture, 1845-2005.  If, after all this reading, you’re finally ready to get out and see these spectacular buildings yourself, bring along our copy of The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.  It’s an invaluable field guide to the architectural gems of Detroit.

Speaking of old buildings, a controversial topic mentioned by the article is the current trend of so-called “ruin porn”.  Critics say that photographers visiting Detroit to capture images of abandoned buildings are exploiting a city that is already down on its luck.  Others say that these artists give us a realistic, albeit ghostly reminder of the city’s history while pushing people to think differently about these “ruins”.  Judge for yourself by checking out Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s book The Ruins of Detroit, or Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled.

A unique aspect of The Motor City that the article lightly touches on is its abundance of outdoor public art.  Since the winter weather has been so mild, why not treat yourself to a walking tour of Detroit’s more famous outdoor art?  Be sure to bring along Art in Detroit Public Places so you don’t miss a thing!  If you take the People Mover to get between some of your destinations, you can also see some of the works included in Art in the Stations: The Detroit People Mover.  Make sure you don’t miss one of Detroit’s most famous outdoor art installations, The Heidelberg Project.  Read more about the colorful history of this piece of Detroit’s cultural heritage in Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.

Feel like taking in some art indoors?  You can take your pick of art galleries in Detroit.  The article’s author observes that while “[Henry] Ford may have been a wealthy industrialist, he hired a Mexican Communist to paint his workers.”  The Mexican Communist in question was Diego Rivera, who forever memorialized Ford’s workers in his mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  For more information about this masterpiece, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs and stories, check out Linda Bank Downs’ book Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals. If you’re looking to get inspired by something a little more modern, take a look at the catalog from Rei Kawakubo’s exhibition at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit).  The exhibit, “ReFusing Fashion: Rei Kawakubo”, is an intriguing blend of fashion and art.  Both artists and fashion fans alike will enjoy reading about Kawakubo’s work, as well as the effort that went into creating this exhibit at one of Detroit’s most exciting galleries for contemporary art.

Artist Mike Kelley passes away

Kelley's art from Sonic Youth's Dirty album. Image linked from

National Public Radio reported today that Mike Kelley was found dead in his Los Angeles home. Mike Kelley was a Detroit native, and was well-respected in the contemporary art world. He is well-known for having created the cover art of Sonic Youth’s 1992 album, Dirty.For more information about his work, read about an installation of his work at the Detroit Institute of Arts web site, or visit the library and check out the Art:21, Season Three DVD.

Movie titles

The article, “If There Was an Oscar for Film Title,” from the New York Times, will surely appeal to any graphic designer or typography junkie, especially with the Academy Awards ceremony only a few days away. In it, the author suggests films from the past year that, in her opinion, should be nominated for “Best Film Title,” if such a category existed. Do you agree with the author’s choices? What is your favorite opening title sequence from a film?

If you want more information about film title sequences, stop by the library and check out Uncredited: Graphic Design & Opening Titles in Movies. This book discusses the art and significance of dozens of opening titles from films over the last century. It also comes with a DVD so you can view many of the titles discussed in the book. You may also want to check out Bass on Titles, a DVD in which Saul Bass (arguably the greatest opening title designer ever) talks about his work on some of Hollywood’s greatest productions.