In the Spotlight
Television, magazines, movies and mass-marketed advertising have always contributed to—and reflected—the style of an era. In the 1950s, children's books, for instance, often boasted whimsical line drawings designed to mimic toys of the time. This season's texts are not immune to widespread pop cultural influence. In an age when Internet use has dominated the communications scene, highly competitive, attention-getting production methods are currently shaping the book design industry. In many cases, art and literature are no longer relegated to one-dimensional surfaces, but rather, die-cuts, inserts and special folding processes create multi-dimensional books, allowing readers to interact more with the end product.
The following selections have been chosen because of their novel approaches to overall design and how they best reflect the new design era. Chronicle, a company known for its creativity, is represented with several three-dimensional pieces, as well as renowned art book publishers Harry Abrams and Phaidon, in addition to independent publishers and high-end comic book producers. The selections demonstrate the importance of how production choices influence design. They are also among some of the most hotly anticipated and award-winning projects of the season.
Robert Storr, Thelma Golden, Katy Siegel and Lynn M. Herbert
Harry Abrams Books
As a companion to a new public television series on the contemporary visual arts, Art: 21 introduces some of the most interesting artists working in America today. Using lush print and paper stock, the book focuses on how creativity is affected by changing notions of place. The design mirrors a new model of layout, featuring open-aired textual spaces and strong linear tones. Kim Kanstani, director of education at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, describes the book as, "A refreshingly innovative and engaging approach to capturing the process, personal insights and motivations that inspire a diverse and dynamic group of contemporary artists." No small feat, according to Abrams, a company that also considered how images in print would be used in celluloid.
The Art of Looking Sideways
The Art of Looking Sideways, according to its publisher, "is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination—all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual." Loosely arranged in 72 chapters, the inventive design demonstrates the expressive use of type, space, color and imagery, four important foundations in any designer's creative arsenal. So, it is no surprise that the book's designer has already been hailed for his unique design eye. Deyan Sudjic, editor of Domus magazine, notes, "Alan Fletcher proves that graphic designers can be as fascinated about what things mean, as by how they look."
Dan Eldon: The Art of Life
Only 22 when he died on assignment in Somalia, Dan Eldon left behind journals that became the basis for Chronicle's original best-selling The Journey Is the Destination, a collage of letters, photos and notations from on the road. Since then, the publisher released a second book based on Eldon's international work. Featuring color and black-and-white images throughout, the follow-up is expertly designed to mimic a travelogue with high-quality reproductions of art, maps and letters on durable stock. His mother, also a photojournalist, assisted in editing, compiling and overseeing the entire design process.
An emblem of the 20th century, Elvis, and his legacy, remain imprinted on American culture at-large. To this end, Chronicle Books has designed a multi-faceted project that goes well beyond the realm of Book Publishing 101. The box features carefully reproduced printed collateral and retrospective pages, including completely detachable official fan club member card, pay stub, Presley family portrait, third grade report card, autographed head shot, vintage Christmas card, auto insurance form, job application, concert poster, trading cards, paycheck, press releases and portrait from the 1950s. The box and its elements are designed to simulate a vintage collection of rare memorabilia using paper and ink products that stand the test of time. The use of heavy coated papers and durable inks represent an important consideration that many designers must make: how to achieve authentic style, while meeting demands of longevity.
The Journey of Hope: The Story of Irish Immigration to America
Kerby Miller and Patricia Mulholland Miller
Just as one of the greatest history lessons unfolds on each page, so do maps, letters, advertisements and photographs specially produced to simulate authentic immigration materials. Through intimate letters and printed journals, the book publisher recaptures an era spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries when immigrants from Ireland entered the new world. The interactive materials are designed to join together the experiences of those at home and abroad in a link between past and present, demonstrated most effectively in its rich ode to history using detachable pages within the bound text. To accomplish this, the publisher utilizes styles that would best imitate vintage papers and documents without losing durability. The book was printed in two parts—the first, a traditional book printing and binding run, and the second, a sheetfed process for the unbound materials.
Steven Bluttal and Patricia Mears
As the creator of Jackie Kennedy's signature pillbox hat and the designer of choice for Liza Minnelli in the 1970s, Halston is synonymous with American style. The designer became renowned for creating a modern, minimal, yet glamorous look that encompassed everything from flowing caftans and ultrasuede dresses to uniforms that lent panache to airline attendants and The Girl Scouts of America alike. The book, produced in honor of Halston's inimitable style, is no exception to this ideal. Two hundred color illustrations, 300 black-and-white photographs and dozens of reproduced drawings and sketches not only pay homage to fashion, but celebrate design from production to completion. According to the publisher, reproducing a wide array of fabrics was not an easy task. But it was achieved by using color calibration devices that assured a matching end product, paying careful attention to texture, color and form.
Pat McGreal, Stephen John Phillips and Steven Parke
Vertigo with D.C. Comics
The 96-page hardcover teases, "every picture tells a story." The illustrated novel is anything but conventional. The intense graphics are created using traditional illustration with state-of-the-art digital design tools. The graphic novel also uses stop-action photography and digital page layout programs to simulate urban-based sequences chronicling the deeds of the zealous main character in this adult comic. In fact, the division of Vertigo, according to D.C. Comics, "was launched in 1993 to offer innovative graphic stories to adult readers of non-traditional comics." The company is also among the most respected publishers in alternative comics today, no doubt due to the expert detail paid when mass-producing original art in print and online.
The Rabbi Who Flew: A Grandma Hanne Sheyne Story
To capture the fullness of Renate Dollinger's illustrations, a gouache process was used to reproduce intaglio prints, preserving the original pigments of oil paintings created specifically for this year's Independent Publishers Book Awards finalist. According to Hazel Rochman of Booklist, "Dollinger's vibrant expressionist paintings are rich in gouache colors, highlighted with thick black lines." The reproductions, output on heavy coated stock, showcase matching end products that feature a collection of hues.
Top Cow Comics
Before the major motion picture, the character of Lara Croft was first born on the printed page. Since then, the publishers of Tomb Raider comics have released several special edition books, featuring foiled covers in gold, ruby red and millennium styles. The trade paperbacks selectively feature stamping and lush illustrations by Andy Park, who has also signed select issues of the series. Top Cow Comics is banking on the demand for multi-media publishing projects, exporting plenty of its award-winning art and designs online for free digital sampling—without losing the original details found in print versions. Finding new ways of using unusual, flashy substrates, holograms and textures also contributes to a greater return on second and third edition print runs. The publisher admits that loyal readers welcome a series of the same book produced using a variety of tones and foils.
The Voodoo Kit
Using props to enhance text, Running Press has developed a collection of non-traditional books that are designed outside of the box—literally. Produced in two formats, a full-sized book with doll, as well as a miniature version of the original, The Voodoo Kit demonstrates the publisher's dedication to providing multi-dimensional projects to court alternative book consumers. By pairing unusual items with traditional content, Running Press has cornered a market that makes books into extensions of gadgets. In the past, the publisher has utilized a wide range of materials to achieve this goal, including rubber and sand.
Saint Louis Art Museum
This companion book to an exhibition at the St. Louis Museum of Art is as impressive in form as it is in content. Wonderland is designed with a special insert containing photographs of installations reproduced in full-color poster format. The design is a perfect complement to the art it represents. The 10 artists featured—Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernandez, Stephen Hendee, Bill Klaila, Joep van Lieshout, Ernesto Neto, Pipilotti Rist, Gregor Schneider, and Jennifer Steinkamp—provide works constructed into alternate realities that engage physical involvement, creating a three-dimensional experience for the viewer, as well as the reader. The book was recently honored by the 2001 Independent Publishers Book Awards.
Wonder Woman Masterpiece Edition
The Golden Age of the Amazon Princess
This publication and its collector's figure pay tribute to the femme fatal of superheroines in two formats—a compact, inexpensive trade edition and another larger, more deluxe collector's volume. Both contain an 8.5" action figure designed in 1940s style, as well as a lavishly illustrated hardcover book chronicling the origins and early history of the amazon princess.
The intangible concept of writer's block takes on a literal form with this whimsical book, which is in the shape of an actual block. The 3x3x3" book was constructed using more than 600 pages. According to Bill Jones, creative designer at Running Press, a follow-up to Writers' Block is due out this season. Road Block, he says, features a wider color gamut using the same design plan. On both counts, the books represent an innovative way of cleverly using production methods to deliver special themes.
-Natalie Hope McDonald
- Alan Fletcher
- America Kerby Miller
- Andy Park
- Bill Jones
- Bill Klaila
- Dan Eldon
- Deyan Sudjic
- Gregor Schneider
- Harry Abrams
- Hazel Rochman
- Jackie Kennedy
- Janet Cardiff
- Jennifer Steinkamp
- Joep van Lieshout
- Katy Siegel
- Kim Kanstani
- Lara Croft
- Liza Minnelli
- Lynn M. Herbert Harry
- Natalie Hope McDonald
- Olafur Eliasson
- Paparazzi Pat McGreal
- Patricia Mulholland Miller Chronicle Books
- Renate Dollinger
- Robert Storr
- Rochelle Steiner Saint Louis Art Museum
- Stephen Hendee
- Stephen John Phillips
- Steven Bluttal
- Steven Parke Vertigo
- Teresita Fernandez
- Thelma Golden
- Tomb Raider