Sekrit N1nj4 Project

FRS_Book_tease_1200Having been at this for over 35 years, and from time to time taken a few moments to digitally restore some of the work recovered from the house fire, the not entirely (well, a little) insane notion came across me that I should pull together a retrospective of some of my better work from my student days to the present. The original thought was it would make a nice giveaway to friends and some of my better clients. Given that the technology to self publish and offer print-on-demand is out there and getting better year after year.

So I started to pull together FANTASTIC REALITIES: A Life In Art & Design. A labor of voluminous free time and love. Was quite the trip down memory lane. Also some minor frustrations as I discovered that some storage and archive technologies did NOT stand the test of time. So for instance the breakthrough digital files of the 1996 Witches Ball Poster are apparently lost to digital mischance. ZIP Drives, anyone? Retrospect Express on a Pre-Power PC Mac? Hoo Boy.

But I scanned, reconstructed, touched up. Sniffled a little over fire damaged originals. Curated my own collection. Let me tell you, that is an exercise in humility. There were a few moments of, “oh god, I got paid for this?” But finally I was able to pull together the book in InDesign, and had an editor friend give the text a once-over. And I sent it up to the self-publishing site

Got my Authors copy… it’s stonkin’ beautiful!

Beautiful... and too big.Beautiful… and too frickin’ big. (…and no longer available!)

At 12.75″ x 10.75″ Large Landscape size, it’s just too feckin’ big for 28 pages. Feels goofy and awkward. So I am working up a 9″ x 7″ or Letter Size Landscape edition with more pages, breaking a number of the pages into spreads for more of a proper book at around 50 pages. Will also be cheaper.

Oh… Wait…. Unfortunately –

Professional Hardcover at Lulu only offers the US Trade and US Letter formats.
Premium Paperback has the 9″ x” 7 size option, but only offers Coil, Perfect and Saddle Stitch binding, no hardcover.

* mutters rude noises *

The 9″ x  7″ Photobook option doesn’t let you upload your own design as a PDF, but forces you to use a pretty janky online Photo Book Wizard – pretty much for Wedding, Baby, and Vacation pic level stuff. I figured out I could export each page as a high resolution image file and drop them in … BUT NO. The TITLE PAGE is generic Arial, and can’t be formatted, and accepts no photos! OH, HELL NO.

As I complained on the Lulu Forum

“It is not unreasonable for Designers, Artists, serious, even semi-pro Photographers to want to have the print quality of Lulu’s hard cover photo book, but the creative freedom to upload their own book designs. I was quite happy with the quality of the Large Landscape Photo book – but that format allow us to upload our designs, but my audience is better served with a smaller, less challenging format.

“The painfully stubborn unformattability of the Lulu Studio Title Page is particularly frustrating, and yes, does send many of us looking at other vendors.

“One of the huge attractions of Lulu is the print on demand ability, and not have to commit to a huge print run, and direct our audiences to the Lulu bookstore, instead of committing to a large print run up front.”

Perhaps I should just order a single copy of the perfect bound version, see if I like the quality in that binding, while I research other providers. But using another vendor that provides the format I desire, will require me to invest at the very least in a modest print run at non-trivial cost. I floated the notion for a Kickstarter to get a print run of a nice hardback funded. But I might still make the softcover available at Lulu for Print-on-demand.

In the meantime, if you’re a fan, and jackshit NUTS, the big one IS available on Lulu, and don’t mind the slightly stiff cost – they’ll print you a nice shiny new one and ship it to you!

(As it happens in the digital publishing world, all of my above criticisms has become moot. Lulu has since depreciated that forma & size and the project has been removed from the Lulu site. See 9 July 2022 update below,  – KG)

Fantastic Realities: A Life In Art & Design
28 Pages, Large Format Hardcover. $54.99 at
(No longer available, size depreciated by Lulu)

“A selective retrospective of a thirty five plus year career in Graphic Design, Illustration and Photography. Spanning a career from an Illustration and Design Student at Pratt Institute in NYC, to being a Art Director in NYC, to running a Freelance Design Studio in the mountains of West Virginia.”

Update – 25 June 2017

A legit tilt at a softcover 2nd Edition

A legit tilt at a softcover 2nd Edition…

I went ahead and created a smaller-format Paperback edition. I am not entirely happy with the tightness and abbreviated margins. But it can be had at a saner cost.

Fantastic Realities: A Life In Art & Design, 2nd edition
50 Pages, Trade Paperback. $17.99 at

Update – 9 July 2022

Somewhere in the intervening time, Lulu quietly discontinued their Large Landscape format and their online composer. Which makes many of my criticisms above moot. Also gone are the “Professional Hardcover” and “Premium Paperback” designations, and they just offer their various sizes in most finishing options. That does simplify matters a bit, and I have more freedom of choice in layout and bindery. but the large version of the book has been depreciated and is no longer available. Good thing I ordered an Author’s Copy, – Collectors Item. MY collection! At least I still have my original design files!

But I did take the opportunity to tidy up the 7×9 Edition an correct some technical flaws, mostly image resolution issues with the excellent Topaz Labs Gigapixel image utility, and clean up the text a little. So that edition can still be had, but now conjuring with the idea of revisiting the Letter Landscape size in a hardbound format, that could be done at a retail price of about $24.99 for a 52 page book. So, more to come on this When, remains to be seen, or better yet, revealed!








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