September 22, 2015
September 21, 2015
The New York Times obituary for type designer Adrian Fruitger who died at the age of 87 on September 10 in his native Switzerland:
The son of a weaver, Adrian Johann Frutiger was born on May 24, 1928, in Unterseen, near Interlaken, Switzerland. As a youth he hoped to be a sculptor, but his father discouraged him from plying so insecure a trade. Apprenticed to a typesetter as a teenager, he found his life’s work.
In 1952, after graduating from the School of Applied Arts in Zurich, Mr. Frutiger moved to Paris, where he was a designer with the type foundry Deberny & Peignot, eventually becoming its artistic director. There he created some of his earliest fonts, among them Président, Méridien and Ondine; in the early 1960s he founded his own studio in Paris.
Commissioned to create signage for airports and subway systems, Mr. Frutiger soon realized that fonts that looked good in books did not work well on signs: The characters lacked enough air to be readable at a distance. The result, over time, was Frutiger, a sans serif font designed to be legible at many paces, and from many angles.
One of Frutiger’s hallmarks is the square dot over the lowercase “i.” The dot’s crisp, angled corners keep it from resolving into a nebulous flyspeck that appears to merge with its stem, making “i” look little different from “l” or “I.” (For designers of sans serif fonts, the gold standard is to make a far-off “Illinois” instantly readable.)
For more on Frutiger and his work, there is an interesting interview with the designer in the spring 1999 issue of Eye Magazine.
September 18, 2015
Nina is asking artists, illustrators, designers and photographers to donate small works of art to be sold at auction to raise funds for organizations such as Human Relief Foundation helping refugees.
Current contributors include book designers such as Nathan Burton, Suzanne Dean, Jon Gray (Gray318), Jennifer Heuer, Jamie Keenan, and Henry Sene Yee, as well as illustrators like Petra Börner, Rob Ryan, and Ralph Steadman.
September 17, 2015
Before turning his attention to graphics and advertising, Italian artist and designer Bruno Munari (1907-1998) made his mark as a member of the Futurists, an avant-garde art movement fascinated by modernity, mass production, and pushing at technological limits.
The influence of Futurism — not to mention modernism’s jokers Dada and Surrealism — is apparent throughout Munari’s Books, a collection of Munari’s book design recently published in English by Princeton Architectural Press. Munari relentlessly experimented with typography, photography, collage, and printing materials. There is a book made of metal, another that comes with a hammer. There is page after page of special papers, unique bindings, loose pages, punches, tears, and flaps. The breadth (and the volume!) of his work is staggering, and it all crackles with this restless sense of innovation, urgency, and provocation.
“A great children’s book, with beautiful expressive figures, the right story, printed simply, would not be accepted (by some parents), but children would love it.”1
But Munari’s designs and illustrations are also surprisingly full of warmth and wonder. This is most apparent in his expressive illustrations, and the large number of books Munari produced for very young children. Even readers familiar with Bruno Munari’s ABC and Bruno Munari’s Zoo, may find themselves astonished at just how many other extraordinary children’s books he created that aren’t currently available in English.
“we need to deconstruct the myth of the artist-hero who produces only masterpieces for the intelligent. We have to show that as long as artists are outside the problems of everyday life, only a few people will be interested. And now, in these days of mass culture, artists must climb down from their pedestals and be so kind as to design a butcher’s sign.”2
If Munari’s Books has a shortcoming, it is the rather academic introductory texts (they will be useful for better design writers than me, but I got little sense of the Munari’s life or the personality behind the designs from them). Fortunately, the book is peppered with lively quotations from Munari himself. The most pithy come from Arte come mestiere, a collection of Munari’s writing on design first published in English in 1971 as Design as Art (and reissued as a Penguin Modern Classic in 2008). The short essays in Arte come mestiere were originally written for Milan daily newspaper Il Giorno, and they address everyday life as well as design. They’re witty, discursive (and sometimes even surprisingly practical), and a perfect accompaniment to the illustrations in Munari’s Books.
September 15, 2015
September 14, 2015
Roz Chast for The New Yorker.
September 3, 2015
September 2, 2015
Something of a bumper post this month — a real mix of approaches, and a number YA titles to boot. Enjoy!
Consumed by David Cronenberg; design by David A. Gee (Penguin Canada / September 2015)
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin; design by Justine Anweiler; photography Jonathan Simpson (Picador UK / Septembr 2015)
(You can read about the design process for this cover here)
The New Time and Space by John Potts; design by Palgrave Macmillan (Palgrave Macmillan / September 2015)
Wall Flower by Rita Kuczynski; design by David Drummond (University of Toronto Press / August 2015)
September 1, 2015
Publishing just over 30 books a year, Graywolf has had authors win four NBCC awards, a National Book Award, two Pulitzers, and a Nobel Prize — all in the last six years. This year, it will exceed $2 million in sales for the first time. No other independent press, never mind a 41-year-old nonprofit, has come so far so fast. It didn’t happen by accident.
“I think of success as being able to say yes to something that doesn’t necessarily look like a commercial winner,” says Fiona McCrae, Graywolf’s publisher since 1994, over yogurt and decaf on one of her monthly visits to New York. “Knowing something is good and having to say no, that seems to me the bigger failure.” An affably owlish Brit, McCrae started out in London’s legendary literary Faber & Faber before transferring to its small American spinoff in Boston. Three years later, she heard that Graywolf’s founder was resigning.
Scott Walker began hand-sewing poetry chapbooks in Port Townsend, Washington, in 1974. While picking up poets like Tess Gallagher and Jane Kenyon, Walker turned Graywolf Press into a nonprofit and relocated to the Twin Cities, home to a thriving philanthropic base (which also supports nonprofit presses Milkweed and Coffee House). But in the ’90s, a publishing slump hit Graywolf particularly hard; Walker resigned and his board eventually hired McCrae. At the time, she had zero experience in nonprofits — possibly to Graywolf’s benefit, because she chafed at the complacency to which nonprofits are prone. “There’s got to be a way in which you absolutely value Graywolf,” she says, “but like, come on, everybody! Other small presses are not the measure. Do you say, ‘For our size, we get more attention, so that’s it,’ or do you say, ‘Where can we go?’
And speaking of Graywolf, I am looking forward to picking up a copy The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, which they are publishing in North America this month (can anyone tell me who designed the cover?)
August 28, 2015
Will the creative community ever get its fill of advice?…
…Since advice is a nurturing impulse (a way to pass wisdom on to the future…or just next year’s graduating class), is there really any harm in this oversaturation? Does the monotone nature of our conversation on success, work, and failure actually hurt us?
I would argue yes—there is a dark side to the peppy culture of pretty advice. While other shades of goodwill, such as compassion, generosity, and friendship, only improve with quantity, advice has a cumulative effect—pooling emphasis and importance around the notion of individual initiative. More than slogans, working hard, being nice, and doing what you love have gradually become canonized as the actual reasons that success or failure occurs. When the logic of advice is allowed to co-opt reality, we begin to believe that individual initiative is why things happen.
The result may feel good and empowering, but it also creates the distorted impression that an individual’s good work, alone, will translate to a proportional reward. Conversely, failures stemming from other factors—like ingrained structural prejudice or simply bad timing—may too easily be misattributed to an individual’s lack of commitment, failure to work hard enough, or insufficient love-doing. A culture of self-help advice fosters a belief that we exist in a pure meritocracy, where everything is fair, and that our shared work of shaping an equitable community is done.
This is not the world we live in.
August 26, 2015
“From the beginning I wanted to come up with something that looked alien, as though someone had brought it back from a holiday in a country you’d never heard of”
They make for a stunning set.
Jamie also created that rather nice “PV” logo for the imprint. Nicely done Mr. Keenan.
Vertigo, The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, The Disappearance of Signora Giulia and Master of the Day of Judgment will be published by Pushkin Vertigo on next month; two more titles, I Was Jack Mortimer and She Who Was No More, will be published in November.
August 25, 2015
The inspiration comes from a place of personal experience that I wanted to document. It’s a life lesson that I found hard to learn; one of love, loss and the ability to adapt to the constant changes that are a part of life. On a visual level my inspiration came from my design heroes, William Blake and William Morris. My love of pattern and book design is evident in the illustrations.
It looks absolutely beautiful as you can see:
And here’s Coralie talking about the project:
The Fox and the Star is available from Particular Books August 27.