Home / New ‘Old’ Books: The Design Work of Ross MacDonald

New ‘Old’ Books: The Design Work of Ross MacDonald

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As sometimes happens, my teenage daughter the design maven, pointed my attention to a very interesting website, in this case showcasing the work of printer and designer Ross MacDonald (not to be confused with the pulp novelist who authored the Lew Archer series). His specialty is producing antique-looking original printed works using old technology and clever tricks. He's designed special books for movies, such as the Bible featured in the recent movie Book of Eli and has also produced custom letterpress work for posters and book cover designs, and is the creator of a series of peculiar vintage-style cartoons that I had seen before in various magazines but never really looked into more deeply.

MacDonald documents much of his work very thoroughly, with images, videos and explanatory articles on his website. His latest article is on a really fascinating hand-designed book called Wapurgisnacht created for an upcoming horror movie project, though he won't reveal which one. The details on the construction of the book and the aging techniques are really fascinating.

Also fascinating is some of the work coming out of his Brightwork Press, which is a collection of old printing presses and an amazing assortment of antique letterpress type located in a workshop behind his house. A good example of this work is his article on a letterpress print project he did to create a title page for an article in LA Magazine, which also includes an excellent and detailed video of his presswork. The article on the letterpress printing he did for the Bible in Book of Eli is also interesting. And don't forget to check out some of the peculiar vintage-style illustrations and cartoons he's done for publications like The New York Times.

My one complaint — aside from not knowing what secret horror movie he's designing the Walpurgisnacht book for — is that I wish there was more on MacDonald's website. I suspect he's done many other interesting projects, but only a few from the last year or so are documented. But I have high hopes that if we keep an eye on his webpage we'll get to see a lot more in the future.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • jackie

    nice article. I wonder how you manage your time with handling that professions. good job.

  • Some credit has to go to my daughter who found the site and passed it on to me because she knew I’d be interested.


  • Great article and links. I love stuff like this! Thanks, Dave.