Jacket Mechanical

I'm shutting down Jacket Mechanical.

After seven years, this blog is moving on—I've decided to have all my work and thoughts under one roof; a different roof. So, from now on, all my work will live:


Though the only thing that will change in terms of the blogging side, really, is the URL and the name of the site, I still feel a little wistful. The day I began my professional life as a designer—my first day at Vintage books—I was asked to make a "jacket mechanical" for my boss. (For to those of you who aren't designers, a jacket mechanical is the paste-up board containing the entire book jacket, including flaps, backad, barcode, etc., with all the printing specs indicated on a vellum overlay). Though I was expected to make a mechanical, I had no idea, then, what the term meant, and was too raw and sheepish at that moment to ask for help. So I googled the term. I got back a load of links relating to machinery and automotive mechanics, and a fair few relating to menswear. But nothing, not a single link, that explained the phrase as it's used by graphic designers. Luckily, a kind colleague, Claire Williams, whose office was next to my cubicle, sensed my confusion and helped me out. She showed me where the cardstock was kept; where the lasers came out; how to tape down the vellum and affix the PMS chips. But that feeling of being utterly at sea remained with me, and, when I created this blog all those years ago, I thought to myself: maybe in the future there will be a designer somewhere, also suffering their first-day palpitations, and they will be asked to make a jacket mechanical, and they will google the term. And when this happens, when this possible future greenhorn googles the term, they will get something different back from Google: they will be given design links; they will see book jackets. Nice ones, preferably. (I even intended to have a helpful definition of a jacket mechanical at the top of the blog, but never got around to making it.) So that—here at the close—was how the name was chosen.

(Of course, we no longer make jacket mechanicals at the office. We rip PDF files. Everything has changed. As everything does and should.)

Anyway, I hope you all will continue to visit me online in my new home. I'll try to update it frequently with information about my work, and information about the work of others in my profession; information about my books, and future books of mine.

So that's it for the jack mech.

Bye now.