Taking a Bite Out of the Apple

A Graphic Designer's Tale (Hearing Others' Voices)

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
140 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Taking a Bite Out of the Apple: A Graphic Designer's Tale (Hearing Others' Voices) is a nonfiction memoir for young adults written by Rob Janoff. While he had gone to college to study industrial design, Janoff was more intrigued by the creative possibilities that graphic design seemed to offer. Indeed, his whole outlook on the world seemed to point him in that direction. He had had some success in designing logos for new tech companies when he went to work for the Regis McKenna Agency in Silicon Valley. That tech experience led his boss, Regis McKenna, to offer him a somewhat off-the-wall assignment. Janoff’s mind was far away as his boss discussed the assignment, but eventually the words “apple” and “computers” broke through his distraction. Janoff even knew of Steve Jobs, the iconic inventor who, with his partner, had turned a garage into the birthplace of the personal computer. But how to render Steve’s concepts into a logo? Janoff’s mind kept toying with the idea, his hand quickly sketching and erasing ideas as they paraded through his imagination. Then he hit on it.

Rob Janoff’s nonfiction memoir for young adults, Taking a Bite Out of the Apple: A Graphic Designer's Tale, is a beautifully written and fascinating account by the designer of the world-famous Apple logo. Anyone who loves computers and has an interest in how the personal computer came to be will have as much fun reading this book as I did. But there’s more to this memoir than tech history. Janoff’s description of how he tackled the project, working feverishly with a bowl of apples as inspiration is a joy to read. Any creative person should find Janoff’s story inspiring, and his smooth conversational style makes following along as he works towards that one perfect image a grand and entertaining experience. Taking a Bite Out of the Apple: A Graphic Designer's Tale is most highly recommended.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Taking A Bite Out of the Apple by Ron Janoff – designer of the Apple logo – is a short entry in the series Hearing Others’ Voices. As such, “This book … was written for young people facing the large and looming question: What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” Because writing about reality for the young demands the ultimate in clarity, conciseness, and credibility, this condensed memoir shares a simplicity of style more often seen in young adult fare, but in no way does it patronize or underestimate its audience, nor does it sacrifice either the mundane or dramatic aspects of its central story: One man’s decision to follow his own passion while unable to predict a future iconic place in history. In other words, Janoff explains early and clearly the radical difference between blindly seeking fame and actively pursuing personal achievement.

The Apple logo origin and development story is fascinating in itself, but Taking A Bite Out of the Apple offers more than just fond memories. Ron Janoff also reviews the logo’s evolution subsequent to its genesis, and more importantly, he portrays for youthful aspirations the evolving nature of the graphic design industry from which it was born. Ironically, his most relevant admonition regards our growing reliance on computer technology for manifesting creative works, especially where “filtering legitimate critiques from baseless criticism” becomes a major challenge, and when technological dependency for acquiring inspiration actually clouds the process. Janoff’s most valuable gem of wisdom: “The idea – a solid idea – should come first, and the execution should follow.” In this small but potent book, anyone pursuing his/her passion will find strong encouragement and guidance from a mentor who has experienced exemplary success.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Taking a Bite Out of the Apple: A Graphic Designer's Tale (Hearing Others' Voices) by Rob Janoff is an autobiography charting Rob Janoff’s journey through the revolution of computers. Following a meeting in 1977 with Steve Jobs, Janoff went on to design the now famous Apple logo while working for the McKenna agency. This was the start of a long and fruitful career for the young art director. Having worked on a number of well-known brands, including Apple, Intel, Kraft, IBM, and many others, Janoff is now the head of a branding company and works with a diverse range of global companies. This story tells us how the Apple icon came to life and provides real inspiration for anyone else who is thinking about getting into the graphic design field.

Taking a Bite Out of the Apple: A Graphic Designer's Tale (Hearing Others' Voices) by Rob Janoff is an interesting story if a little on the short side. To be fair, there wasn’t a great deal of information about the making of the Apple logo and I was a little disappointed that there were no real stories about the Apple company, given how long he spent working for them. However, the book is well written and moves along at a good pace and Janoff seems like a nice guy to work with and for. It is easy to read and it’s a great book for those who want to get into the graphic design area of work, giving a good idea of just what is involved. It is a good read but I guess I had hoped for it to be a bit more in-depth, especially surrounding his time with Apple.