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About Pretty Wicked Puzzles

This all started when, for no particular reason, I made a word search puzzle for my son’s kindergarten class using all the kids’ names. Though that puzzle was black and white and used a plain font, I did wonder why word search always looked like that. How could word search puzzles be more fun? And since I’m getting to that mid-century point myself, how could they be improved as brain training?

No black and white Helvetica!

Four years later I asked long-time friend and fellow graphic designer Jan Uretsky to work on a book of puzzles with me. I thought that his artistry in design would compliment my more engineering-like approach. I was right: two balding heads are better than one.

It started out as playing with fonts and colors, but it eventually became an investigation of the interplay between the three aspects of every word search puzzle: form, content, and rules of play. Some puzzles sprouted from graphics, others from ideas for content or rules.

For example, Jan designed a grid in which a several letters were much larger than the rest and took up more than one cell of the grid. Hmm. What do we do with that? Well, if an M takes up two cells, maybe it becomes two M’s, as in the word HAMMER. The M expands! And soon we had our “Westward Expansion” puzzle, with old wooden letters and a list of words related to the settling of the western United States.

The book that we ended up with is one we hadn’t imagined at the beginning. It’s part puzzle book for the beach, part art book for the coffee table, and part elixir for the mind. There are plenty more ideas, and it was tempting to keep going with them. But we decided to publish and let you help steer Pretty Wicked Puzzles toward the puzzles that you enjoy doing.

Please, please, please let us know what you think! Like us on Facebook and leave comments there, or shoot us an email.

Thanks so much for visiting. Be sure to try a free sample puzzle before you go.

Brian Wu
Pretty Wicked Puzzles LLC

The Puzzlemakers

Brian Wu is a designer whose work encompasses information architecture, information design, user experience, corporate identity, marketing communications, and book design. He is a Rhode Islander now, but grew up on Staten Island and lived on Manhattan Island until 2012. He holds a BA in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and an MFA in graphic design from Yale. This coffee mug of his neatly summarizes his current outlook on life.

Jan Uretsky was born and raised in NYC. He holds degrees from both Vassar College and Parsons School of Design, and is a visiting instructor at Pratt Institute teaching Graphic Design Senior Project. The award-winning work of his studio, Uretsky & Co., ranges from logo development, complete brand identity, packaging, stationery and brochures to websites, social media, book covers and publication design.