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The Best of James Victore, Graphic Design’s Rebel With a Cause

A man who scribbles with more eloquence than almost any other designer working today.

James Victore‘s work can feel like a hoax — You mean this guy gets paid to scribble on stuff?! — but see enough of it, and you realize the man has a brash eloquence that few designers ever master. Unlike a lot of designers who eschew politics in favor of clients and cash, Victore has carved a special niche for himself, yelling loudly about issues that matter to him. “If you want to be successful in graphic design, all you have to do is shut up,” Victore tells Co.Design. “But graphic design has power as tool for change and comment, and people don’t take advantage of that enough.”

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Today, Victore is releasing his very first monograph, James Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss? ($40, Abrams), which includes the designer’s best work from the last 25 years and was itself designed by legendary Paul Sahre, with a forward by Michael Bierut. (If you’re in New York, Victore is giving a talk tonight to kick off the book, at the School of Visual Arts; he’ll then be going on a nationwide book tour.)

[The book’s cover]

When you flip through the book, what hits you in the face, over and over again, is that Victore’s aesthetic is vanishingly simple: His process involves lots of doodling and he doesn’t know much about computers — and that’s part of the charm. He’s not a naif about making things look nice, but his work most notable for what it actually says. “Unlike most graphic designers, I’m not interested in the spaces between letters and making words look good,” he says. “I’m interested in what the words say. I can’t be a graphic designer and not comment.”

Here’s a taste of some of the works you’ll find in the book. Up top, one of Victore’s most famous self-published posters, Racism, from 1993.

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[A book cover from 1991]

[Another from 1991]

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[A poster for the film Double Justice, from 1993]

[A cover for the New York Times Magazine, from 2006]

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[A poster from 2003. Victore actually likes Bush! Everyone likes pirates! Just kidding.]

[An illustration for a Times op-ed, from 1996]

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[Proof of Victore’s subtle ways: A hyper-sexy book cover from 2000]

[A cover for critique magazine, from 2006]

You can buy the book now on Amazon for just $26.

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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