Destructible Heart Press

It was 2005. Slam poetry had inherited punk’s DIY ethos just as desktop publishing was coming into its own. This little market was hungry for design with high readability and experimental flair. I started the press to meet the need.

I taught myself every aspect of the business—and learned to hand several of them off. Eventually I led a team through talent scouting, editing, design, building vendor relationships, and hands-on production.

This press was a cornerstone in my career, giving me a playground to develop my design, production, and business management skills, and giving me an entrepreneurial confidence I’ve used ever since.

Time Frame

2002–2009

Objective

To establish a poetry press that married traditional and experimental design, and platform emerging writers

Role

Creative Director

Deliverables
Software

InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat

Skills
  • Art Direction
  • Attention to Detail
  • Creative Direction
  • Editing
  • Leadership
  • Production
  • Relationship Building
  • Research
  • Retouching
  • Strategy
  • Writing

Logo

Development

A hard-boiled detective with a “destructible heart” mirrored the dynamic between book content and design.

Final

I branded everything slam poets were carrying with them—pins, tote bags, stickers, notebooks—and embossed the title page of every book.


In Matthew’s suburban-Bizarro-Jersey, everything’s unaware that it’s upside down. Vengeance for sadistic dentists and uncaring city bus drivers, first kisses behind the Odditorium… and all the reasons you really shouldn’t mess with a black hole.

The challenge was to tip the reader to the reality-warp without getting in the way. An experimental type treatment and table of contents set the tone, while generous white space and traditional layout surfaced the strangeness.

Funny, surreal, and almost familiar… above all, Swamp Yankee is confident. The challenge was to find a visual style that walked this same line.

The dandy typeface and pretentious subtitle set up the joke, and the table of contents confirmed the reader was entering an off-kilter world.

Again, I used clean lines, hefty white space, and traditional typography for the body to contrast with the strangeness of the poems.

Steve is a relentlessly surreal, loosely connected series of flash fiction. Steve himself comes in many forms: jealous boyfriend; jilted academic; Stevie Nicks; even… a mantis.

Karyna’s world-building is amazing, always enough information to imagine the scene, never enough to feel comfortable.

The challenge was again to build a container for that tension. Because the writing was so unstable, I made a highly structured page: full-justified paragraphs, centered titles creating a reassuring triangle on the page, and page numbers that, despite being readable, didn’t quite fit.