Books That Beg for Attention
"Van Vechten was famous for using very unusual material for his backdrops, whether it was cellophane or odd fabrics," says Brad Collins, principal of Group C. "We wanted to do something that suggested his choice of odd materials. Whenever we design a book, we never do something just to be cool or funky. There's a reason behind it."
Group C wanted to create a "modern corollary" of what Van Vechten produced—rather than simply replicating one of Van Vechten's images—while remaining conscious of what it would cost. The group considered paneling the image and tipping it in, which would have required gatefolds, doubling the paper costs and adding scoring in the folding, making the bindery twice as expensive.
"A lot of our decisions were driven by not wanting [to have] the budget grow unnecessarily," says Collins. "And we did want to print something on the inside [cover], so that when the book was opened there was something else that was interesting to look at."
So, in addition to spending time combing through Van Vechten's photographs for the best images to consider for the cover, they examined what production options they had at their disposal.
"We looked at whether or not [we should use] a double hit of silver or opaque white, and [we] ran four-color tests using all flat colors—white, silver, bronze and black," Collins explains. "The curator was on press with us for almost all the proofs."
Having the Curator
on press is one of the advantages that come with working with an academic client, says Collins, because the client is able to get a full understanding of the project and its vision, rather than having to be persuaded.
The front cover was produced using a high-solid bronze metallic ink, supplied by Superior Ink—which also required "an awful lot of testing," says Greg Santini, a sales representative with Andrews Connecticut, an RR Donnelley company, in Manchester, Conn., that printed the book.