Happy Birthday to me

Today I turn 39. One last gasp before I hit the big 4-0. I'm not scurrred, nosiree. Bring it on! I don't feel 39 and, really? That's all that matters. I feel at least 6 years younger. (But I still should get out and run some, just for insurance.)

39 and lovin' it. What a better way to start off my birthday than by getting a present for myself? Because I deserve it, right? So... I saddled over to my Amazon Wish List and bought me something that I've been pining for a very very VERY long time. Didn't tell Andrea. She knew that I was going to get it, but didn't know exactly when to expect it.

On Monday, she calls me to tell me that there's this huge box from Amazon in our living room. The FedEx guy struggled with it while going up the steps to our front door she says. Really? I reply. Hmmmm. I'll be home right away.

Ava takes the big Amazon box out for a spin. What's inside? Besides my daughter?

What could it be?
Inside the Amazon box was this big, beautifully detailed cardboard box.

Happy Birthday to me
Ta DAH! Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, by Todd Oldham. It's an incredible book. Massive. Humongous. Amazing.

Yes it's that big
Yes, it's that big.

Beautiful endpages upon opening up this massive book. The artwork just knocks you off your feet, it does.

The Harper Family of Cincinnati
The Harper Family of Cincinnati. That's Edie, Brett, and Charley. Wife, son, artist. Both Edie and Brett are artists in their own rights. Runs in the family. You can see the contents of the book on the right there.

Charley Harper interview
Todd Oldham conducts an interview near the front of the book. Haven't read it all, but from what little I've read, it's inspiring.

The Animal Kingdom spread
Each chapter is layed out like this. Big, bold, beautiful. Oldham did a fantastic job in the overall layout and design for this book. The Neutra font by House Industries is perfectly used throughout the entire book. Nice.

The back of the book
One last one before we go. This is the back cover. Good to the last drop.

My thoughts on this book? I'm speechless. Charley's work was amazing by itself, but Todd Oldham did an amazing job in presenting it here in a large format, with thick paper. I swear I could probably tear each of the pages out of this book and have them framed. The quality here is that good. Two hundred bucks is a mighty steep price to pay for a book, but Charley's work is totally worth it. If you're willing to splurge this Christmas, go for it. You'll be glad you did. I am.

Previously: RIP: Charley Harper.


  1. Happy birthday, Ward! I hope you have a nice one!
    I always read your blog and never comment, but you're a real inspiration to me, thank you for sharing so much!
    Enjoy your day and all the best for your new year.

  2. Congrats Mr. Man! I was made aware of this special day as I turned on my cell phone this morning. (You're in my contacts and my calendar shows birthdays, etc.)

    What a great present! I'm jealous.

    Hope it's a great day.

  3. Happy Birthday!!
    I hope it's spectacular!

  4. Happy Birfday, Ward!

    Ava in the box is THIS >< close to being a kitty macro, very cute :)

  5. Happy Birthday! Nice post about the Charley Harper book. I got one (with print) when they first came out, and I'm glad I did. The book is giant and beautiful. The one thing I'm a little disappointed with is that it seems some of the original paintings must have been lost and they used scans of prints, so some of the images aren't as clean as I hoped. That aside, this is a helluva book and a very fitting tribute to an amazing artist.

  6. I stumbled over here to wish you and your lovely family Happy Thanksgiving (a few days late)...but now, it's a bonus...because I get to say Happy Birthday too!

    That book is wonderful, I can see why that would make an awesome self-gifted B-day gift! Congrats!!

    Best to you and yours, today, and always :)

  7. happy belated birthday! i've been wanting that book too --- it's incredible to get a scale of how big it really is!!! :)

  8. I've been pining for that book for MONTHS! Glad to see it looks as great inside as it does on the outside; now, to convince the husband that I neeeeeeeeeeeed it....

    Great birthday gift to yourself!

  9. Happy Birthday Dude!
    And I thought Amazon had sent you a small child for a moment there. Hah hah.
    Great book! If you can't spoil yourself on your birthday, when can you.

  10. Happy Happy! Hope it was good, Ward.

  11. happy birthday! i'm lovin' those vintage nikes you & andrea posted about.

  12. Happy B-DAY!!! I'm only a little ahead of you. Had mine back in Spetember..39..great men were obviuosly born back 39 years ago huh?

    That's a cool gift ya got yourself. I gott start one of those wish lists.

    Anyway.. hope you got some other goodies for the special day. All the best!

  13. Thank you all for your great birthday wishes! I really appreciate it. Makes me all warm and tingly inside. Me likeies.

    happy B-day Ward. We miss you back in the ATL.

  15. You might need to get yourself one of those Charley Harper La-Z-Boys by Todd Oldham for sitting and reading that monster.

  16. Having looked through the book at several gift shops, I'd have to say the printing SUCKS. For that kind of price tag, they should have used COATED stock. Why not reduce the font size on the texts to a normal size, would have cut the size of the book way down. I love Harper's work, but am not impressed with Oldham's book.

  17. I would like to think that the point Oldham was trying to make was that Charley Harper's work was meant to be viewed on a much larger scale. And here, it is. Why compromise there? I wouldn't. And I'm glad that Todd didn't. His work looks fantastic large. I wouldn't want to change that.

    As for the printing and paper stock, it doesn't bother me. I do have to say that some of the work presented was from the actual printed items (Ford Times, ads, etc.) but not from the original artwork, so the quality will look worse than seeing the originals. I would've loved to have seen those pieces on a better quality scale, but who knows -- the originals were probably not available, as is usually the case with a great deal of commercial work during that time.

    When originals are shown in the book, they look great, with nice crisp lines, etc. So for the most part, I don't agree with you about the printing, Mark G. But thanks for commenting.