A Letter from the now-late Tibor Kalman

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Tue, 4 May 1999 12:43:44 -0700

A Letter from Tibor Kalman:
Dear Y'all,
Just a quick note to say that if you want to be rich and famous and
tell dumb clients to f*** off, you'd better buy my book.
It was, of course, written, edited, and designed and contributed to
by people smarter than myself, such as Peter Hall of I.D. Magazine,
and Michael Bierut of Pentagram, Jay Chiat, David Byrne, Jenny
Holzer, Isaac Mizrahi, and best of all, my wife, Maira Kalman.
Here are some advantages to owning this handsome volume:

1. There is a big goofy picture of me on the cover so you'll
know what I look like. It has a super-hard cover and a nice thick
unbending spine.
2. The book is not too tall.
3. It doesn't have a dust jacket:
a. because we presumed that you live in a dust-free environment;
b. we tested the book for dust retention and found that dust
likes to sit on the top of the book not on its jacket;
c. we wanted to avoid having that gloopy text from the sales
department about why you cannot live without this explosive and
passionate, life-changing tome;
d. we managed to save one small ugly tree somewhere in Canada.

4. Placed on the floor, Perverse Optimist could:
a. prevent a door from closing;
b. be used to trip competing designers or nearsighted clients.

5. Used properly you could injure and even murder someone using
this book, but I believe the publishers have insurance for this.
6. It will burn for as long as 34 minutes in a fireplace.
There are two drawbacks:

1. It cannot be used as a flotation device; in fact it's not
even water-resistant.
2. It is an ineffective flyswatter.
Cheers, Tibor
-Tibor Kalman


From a barnesandnoble.com e-nnouncement
How do you categorize a career that turned graphic design upside
down? If you're Tibor Kalman, you call it a good beginning. Kalman
redefined outlets for messages and ideas and changed the way we look
at everything from magazines to music videos to restaurant menus.
TIBOR KALMAN: PERVERSE OPTIMIST is finally able to capture this
brilliant career with page after page of the landmark design that has
made Kalman a hero of the design world and beyond. Contributions from
David Byrne, Isaac Mizrahi, Jenny Holzer, and many more, as well as
commentary and interviews from the man himself, give deeper insight
into the hundreds of pages of photographs chronicling this landmark
career. Tibor has some vociferous ideas on just about every subject,
and his own book is no exception. We asked him to share his thoughts
on this consummate collection of his work -- and he managed to
astonish us yet again!

Chat at:

Had a major NYT profile on Dec 3, 1998.