The wonderful Art of Title looks back at the title sequence for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb designed by Pablo Ferro:
Pablo Ferro’s loose letterforms and slack compositions superimposed over aircraft footage represented a distinct departure from American title design of the time. Prior to 1966, the aesthetic of main titles was defined primarily by designers Binder, Brownjohn, and Frankfurt and their symbolic geometry, clean typography, and bold graphic forms. The stage was set for Ferro’s strain of ambitious artistry. His lettering, variously squat, long, and lean, allows the footage to peek through, unobtrusive but utterly individual. It was all done by hand, with grease pencil on glass.
In an interview with Pablo Ferro himself, the designer discusses that distinctive lettering:
I tried to do the lettering like it’s usually done in films, but he said, “Pablo, I don’t know whether to look at the lettering or look at the plane. We have to see both at the same time.” I said to myself, oh boy, how could you do that? I remembered that I do my own lettering, just doodling around, thin and tall and things like that, and I thought I’d try that.
We did a test and it worked! Stanley filled the screen with my lettering. It was perfect! You could see the plane and you could see the lettering at the same time.
Coincidently, Vienna-based foundry FaceType actually released a typeface inspired by Ferro’s lettering called Strangelove Next a few years ago. I’m sure I’ve seen it on a couple of book covers.
Designer David Pearson has created some rather nice typographic covers for the UK editions of Noam Chomsky available from UK publisher Pluto Press.
In addition to the talented Mr. Pearson, Pluto Press’s design manager Melanie Patrick kindly let me know that the publisher is currently working with designers such as David Drummond, David Gee, Jamie Keenan, Dan Mogford, and Jarrod Taylor. You can see some of the results on their new Tumblr Pluto Press Covers, including this slick (ba-dum ching!) cover for the forthcoming Artwash by Mel Evans, designed by Mr. Keenan:
I doubt most of you don’t need advice on how to design a logo (or maybe you do? Who knows?), but Aaron Draplin enthusing about design is always fun. In this video for Lynda.com, Draplin talks about his design process for logos, and even manages to talk about a few of his favourite books along the way:
Now that all the amateur ‘best of 2014′ lists are out of the way, it’s time for the professionals submit their covers to the actual design competitions. Last week 50 Books / 50 Covers opened for entries. Meanwhile the closing dates for this year’s Australian Book Design Awards and ABCD15 in the UK are fast approaching…
50 Books / 50 Covers
Design Observer announced the opening of the 50 Books/50 Covers competition for books published in 2014. The competition will accept online entries from January 7, 2015 to March 18, 2015. See the guidelines for more details.
If you live in the United Kingdom, the Academy of British Cover Design (ABCD) has announced the opening of its second annual cover design competition. Books published between January 1 and December 31 2014 by any designer based in the UK are eligible. All entries must be received by the 31st January 2015.
The Australian Book Designers Association (ABDA) has also announced the 63rd Australian Book Design Awards. The awards are open to any book designed and published for the first time in Australia between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2014. Entries close on Friday 23 January 2015.
Type designer Erik Spiekermann recently spoke to MyFont’s Creative Characters newsletter about his career and his return to letterpress printing:
I think it’s very appropriate to discuss the new interest in analog technologies, and the ways that young people are now finding to combine the analog and the digital. In fact, the difference between the two is disappearing. As type specialist Indra Kupferschmidt also remarked recently — there’s no longer any reason to make things for the screen that look worse than designs made for print. Anybody who does layouts for the screen must know about type and typography just as well as someone who designs for paper. So what counts is, just like before, how to get the message across. We have the technology, there is no more excuse for a job badly done.
What I find very interesting is the movement of people who are savvy in digital design but are genuinely interested in analog techniques. It is now more than a passing trend; there must be a deeper motive why we are newly interested in the hand-made and the haptic, material and three-dimensional aspects of type and design.
In an interview with CBC Radio in 1958, pianist Glenn Gould recounted how he came to play Beethoven in a gas mask. Now CBC Music have turned that anecdote into a charming short film illustrated by designer Heather Collett, and animated by Philip Street and John Fraser:
BBC Radio 4’s Front Row talks to Suzanne Dean, creative director at Random House UK, about the art of book cover design. Dean, who was very publicly thanked by Julian Barnes for her work on his book The Sense of an Ending, has been responsible for more Booker-winning covers than any other designer apparently.
Host John Wilson also chats with designer Matthew Young about the relaunched Pelican Books, while authors Ian McEwan, Tom McCarthy and Audrey Niffenegger, and Telegraph books editor Gaby Wood, share their thoughts on what makes a good book cover.
Another book for the wishlist (because in a shocking development no one gave it to me for Christmas), Criterion Designs features covers, art, and sketches art commissioned for the Criterion Collection. It looks beautiful…
Like all the best things on The Casual Optimist, this post started life as a conversation on Twitter. The topic this time was the under-representation of YA book designers in all these end of the year cover lists. YA covers are becoming more and more sophisticated, yet my posts this year have rarely featured them, so feel that I am unquestionably at fault here. To make some kind of amends, I thought I would post a selection of 50 YA covers from 2014. Many, many thanks to all the book designers and publishing folk (including my colleagues Alisha, Brooke, and Megan at Raincoast) for their suggestions and assistance. And special thanks to Serah-Marie and Derek at Type Books for letting me browse their shelves with my notebook in hand…
In the past, I’ve often included a few series designs in with my favourite covers of the year. This year, I saw so many great covers that were part of a series, I thought a they deserved a post of their own…
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes; design by Nathan Burton (Alma / 2014)
The Gambler by Fydor Dostoevsky; design by Nathan Burton (Alma / 2014)
Notes from the Underground by Fydor Dostoevsky; design by Nathan Burton (Alma / 2014)