Working with the legendary Elaine Lustig Cohen, designer Craig Welsh has launched Kickstarter campaign to revive a font originally designed by Alvin Lustig in the 1930s that they’re calling ‘Lustig Elements’. The project is about halfway to its funding goal, but there are only a couple more weeks to back it, so maybe give them a boost if you are fan of the Lustig’s work (and I know you are!):
At The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright considers the work of Edward Johnson, and visits a new exhibition marking the centenary of his famous typeface for London Underground:
Although sans-serif typefaces (letters without the little flicks at the end of their strokes) date back to the 18th century, Johnston’s Underground typeface can be credited with popularising the style. Indeed, it was so influential that it became the typeface from which every 20th-century sans-serif typeface would be measured. As Gill later wrote in admiration, Johnston “redeemed the whole business of sans-serif from its 19th-century corruption”.
His former student was perhaps driven by the guilt of seeing the success of his own typeface, Gill Sans, which he admitted had been heavily based on Johnston’s work. Promoted and licensed by Monotype, and preloaded into computers, it has become much more widespread than Johnston, which is owned by Transport for London.
“I hope you realise that I take every opportunity of proclaiming the fact that what the Monotype people call Gill Sans owes all its goodness to your Underground letter,” Gill wrote in a letter to Johnston later in life. “It is not altogether my fault that the exaggerated publicity value of my name makes the advertising world keen to call it by the name of Gill.”
Little did it bother Johnston, accidental creator of one of the world’s longest-lasting corporate identities, who was never one for the limelight. When asked to submit a biography for Who’s Who, he was characteristically to the point, listing only three achievements: “Studied pen shapes of letters in early MSS, British Museum, 1898-99. Teacher of the first classes in formal penmanship and lettering, LCC Central School, 1899-1912. Designed block letters based on classical Roman capital proportions (for London Electric Railways), 1916.” But what influential letters they would turn out to be.
If you follow the Casual Optimist on Twitter, you will know that a couple of weeks ago design studio Aishima asked people to tweet about inspiring women graphic designers using the hashtag #celebratewomen. As today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would follow up my #celebratewomen tweets with a visual list of 52 inspiring women book cover designers (one for every week of the year!) — from influential veterans whose work I’ve admired for years to junior designers that have just appeared on my radar.
The names of all 52 designers can be found at the end of the post. With a few more hours in a day the list could easily have been many times longer, so apologies to anyone I have overlooked. Please let me know who you would’ve included in the comments or on Twitter.
All This Has Nothing To Do With Me; design by Justine Anweiler; illustration Daphne van den Heuvel
The Millions has a long, but very interesting (and, at times, surprisingly blunt) essay by veteran Doubleday editor Gerald Howard on editing and literary publishing in New York:
At the simplest, most basic level, I’ve been reading for a living for 37 years. I arrived at New American Library with a literary and intellectual sensibility formed by the unruly rebellions of the ’60s and the spiritual deflations of the ’70s, with a taste for the novelists and thinkers who had either helped to cause or best reflected and interpreted those rebellions and deflations. I’ve read thousands of books and proposals since then, and I believe I am a better reader than I was at age 27 — I know more because I’ve read more and my judgments are (I sure hope) better informed and more mature. But at the primal level where reader meets text and experiences emotions ranging from boredom and impatience to I-love-this-and-have-to-have-to-publish-it excitement, I think I am still that young man in the hunt and on the make, always searching for the big wow. This process takes place in the private arena of the mind and is entirely unrelated to the corporate arrangements of my employer. It is, quite literally, where I live, where I feel I am most myself.
As for the editing of those books that wow me when happy circumstances dictate that I get to acquire them, that process too takes place in a private arena. When I encounter a sentence that is inelegant or ungrammatical or inefficient or ambiguous in meaning, or a scene in a novel that is implausible or overdone or superfluous, or a plot that drags or goes off course or beggars credulity, or a line of exposition that falls short of the necessary clarity, or feel that some subject is missing and requires coverage, I point those things out to the author and with a carefully calculated mixture of firmness and solicitude suggest ways they might be remedied. I do this usually at nights and on weekends, sometimes on my bus ride to and from work, very occasionally in my office on slow days with my door closed (yes, I have an office with a door that closes), with a complete absence of business calculation beyond the largest context — that a book that is bad or just not good enough is a book that will embarrass me and my employer and be poorly received and will not sell.
But as I read those submissions and edit those manuscripts, on another cognitive plane I am reality testing what I am reading. What other books — the fabled and often tiresome “comp titles” — are like this one, and how did those books sell? (We are always fighting the last war.) Is it too similar to something we published recently or are publishing in the near future, or to a book some other house has or shortly will publish? Are there visual images in the book that might be utilized on the cover? What writers of note can I bug for prepublication blurbs? Is there something about the author, some intriguing or unusual backstory, some charisma radiating off the page (and maybe the author photo? Don’t act so shocked) that suggests that he or she will be a publicity asset? What might a reasonable advance be, given the amounts that have been paid recently for similar books, or might reason for some reason be thrown out the window? (A friend and colleague of mine refers to this feeling as “Let’s get stupid.” More on this matter shortly.) What colleagues in the company, in the editorial department, in marketing, publicity, and sales, could I ask to read the book to drum up support for it? What is my “handle” going to be — the phrases or brief sentences that briskly encapsulate a book’s subject matter and commercial appeal? These and all sorts of other questions will be popping up in my brain, and inevitably there is some crosstalk and bleed-through between the two cognitive spheres. If you want total purity in these matters, go join an Irish monastery and work on illuminated manuscripts, not a New York publishing house. Or at the very least a quiet and scholarly and well-endowed university press.
Well worth reading from beginning to end, the essay is an excerpt from the forthcoming Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Centuryedited by Travis Kurowski, Wayne Miller, and Kevin Prufer (to be published by Milkweed Editions in April 2016), which on this evidence of this alone will be essential reading for publishing folks1.
The New York Business Journal looks why McNally Jackson is thriving, while other the city’s other independent bookstores are disappearing:
most literati agree that independent book stores are an endangered species in high-rent New York. See what’s happening right now with the St. Mark’s Bookshop, which was forced to move once and now is preparing to close for good. Or look at what’s already happened to Gotham Book Mart, Biography Bookshop, Bank Street Bookshop and even the chain store Borders Books. All are shuttered. Even Barnes & Noble has closed three large outlets in Manhattan (Astor Place, Chelsea, Lincoln Center).
But something special is brewing on Prince Street in NoLita because McNally Jackson is packed. The café is booming, the self-publishing arm is prospering, and the nightly literary events, are popular. McNally Jackson is the prime example of what it takes for an independent bookstore to succeed: operating as a triple threat of bookstore, café and publisher.