Started in 2005 as a weekend project with a whopping 125 copies in my living room, I grew the Underground Guide to a 250,000/year print run. As Creative Director, I learned to support every role by doing virtually all of them, and eventually hiring for each—production design, art direction, writing, editing; even some ad sales (which I was happy to leave to the professionals!).
The Guide‘s content was crowd-sourced, meaning we would take a review from anyone who had paid for a service three times or more.
In 2009, I negotiated with our printer to use his overstock of cool, weird papers—at the plain white price. Whenever the press operators ran out of one stock, they just loaded in the next, resulting in a unique texture, colors, and feel for different groups of books. In 2010, we manually die-cut and hand-stamped branded dust jackets as a special thank you for our advertisers.
With that in mind, the art direction shifted each year, as well. 2010’s modernized ’40s Hollywood Noir was met with 2011’s home-cooked meal theme. 2012 was a minimal, drafting-inspired look.