187 The Magazine for Graphic Design
Fashion Eley Kishimoto / Maison Martin Margiela / New Fashion Illustration / Featured David Pearson / Puffin By Design / Breda Design Festival Special Report
07 Things to See and Do Essential design events and exhibitions for July 13 Talent Photographer Tim Johannis
71 View opinions, advice, perspective 72 Logoform PiL by WAyNE DALy
19 Talent Paper Engineer Matthew Shlian
74 Letterform Lowercase ‘r’s by MARIAN BANTJES
24 Showcase This month’s best new graphic design work
76 Mag Watch Resident mag man BoJKoWSKI on Little Joe
36 Book Show An exclusive preview of work by artists who love books
78 Bookshelf Essentials hUGo on Coming of Age
42 Profile David Pearson by RoBERT URqUhART
80 Viewpoint Who is your fashion alter ego?
52 Special Report Fashion Fashion Forward The new darlings of illustration 60 Progressive House Investigating the mysteries of Margiela 66 Werk It Extraordinary new WERK mag featuring Eley Kishimoto
83 Review Critiques of new books, exhibitions and events 84 Exhibition Magnificent Maps reviewed by MAx LEoNARD 88 Six Books The latest design books under fire 90 Exhibition Exposure reviewed by KERRy WILLIAM PURCELL 92 Book Puffin by Design reviewed by RIChARD hoGG 96 Festival Graphic Design Festival Breda 2010 reviewed by RoBERT URqUhART
Designed by www.the-entente.org te.org
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Who is your fashion alter ego? Garment you’d rescue from a burning building? Fashion crime or fashion victim?
MARIAN BANTJES is a graphic artist, designer and writer. Alexander McQueen, unfortunately. I really wish he hadn’t done that. hussein Chalayan’s 2008 laser dress (or crystal dress).
RoBERT AMELIA GREGoRy is a publisher, art URqUhART is a very director, writer and activist who runs naughty man. Amelia’s Magazine. Pam St Clement. What-A-Mess. My Monkey Magic I tend to throw on costume from my whatever clashing fifth birthday party. patterned clothing I can find. Guilty as charged. Probably something
You mean me? BECKy SMITh I’m a fashion is a creative director crime waiting for Twin magazine to happen. and the blog
twinfactory.co.uk DAvID DoWNToN is a fashion illustrator.
that I made. I used to sew and knit a lot of my own clothes when I was a teenager and I did a fashion degree at Brighton University where I ended up specialising in print. Mind you, I can’t fit into any of those clothes now.
I have a girl crush on the French Vogue editor In my dreams? Carine Roitfeld’s René Bouché the daughter, Julia fashion illustrator, Restoin Roitfeld. Me? Probably portraitist and She just has it all. fashion crime. bon viveur. I don’t pay any I’m into my attention to Nothing would accessories. what is on the get me into a To quote Patsy catwalk, and burning building. from Ab Fab, I think I’ve “you can never probably got a Interested have enough hats, onlooker. bags, or shoes.” fairly ‘me’ style that you either So I’d probably love or hate. grab my ySL ‘easy’ handbag. RILLA ALExANDER I’ve done both – is an my fashion crime illustrator/artist. back in the day, when I was Madeline. working at Vogue, was that I wore Mr Tom’s red scarf. way too much leather. I looked Is it a crime to very Joey Boswell want to wear red (the male only, every day? character from Bread), rather than the desired look inspired by Gucci.
Things to See and Do
28 JUNE–31 JULy (PARIS), 02 JULy–28 AUGUST (LoNDoN)
16 JULy–7 AUGUST
A very stylish Entente Cordiale is happening around Hoxton Square and the rue Saint-Honoré this month, as supercool gallery/shop KK Outlet and supercool shop/gallery Colette trade places for a few weeks. It’s the first time Colette has ventured into the UK, and along with its hand-picked collection of music, books and other covetable products, the work of graffiti writer Monsieur André and illustrator Darcel will be on show at KK Outlet. Meanwhile, the KK crew will be hopping on the Eurostar and taking over Colette’s very smart Paris store, installing its own unique blend of products, books and artwork. The Shop Swap concept sounds like a great idea. Bon voyage, KK, and Bienvenue à Londres, Colette...
There’s a real treat coming up this month at the Royal College of Art in London — the first ever solo exhibition by Roman Cieslewicz ´ (1930—1996), featuring over 150 key works from his eventful career as a designer, working in Warsaw and then Paris. Cie´ slewicz loved to work in collage and was a member of the last surrealist group in France. Much of his work is politically motivated, but he was also a brilliant art director, working with photographers such as Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton for Elle and Vogue. The exhibition features many of Cie´ slewicz’s posters, including film posters produced in Poland during the 1950s and 1960s (such as his striking design for Hitchcock’s Vertigo), as well as a selection of his many book and magazine covers. We can’t wait.
Things to See and Do
New Model Army
25 JUNE–31 JULy
24 JUNE–15 SEPTEMBER
Some rather arresting little fellas are about to take over the Kemistry Gallery in London this month. Brosmind Army (named after its creators, Barcelona-based Brosmind Studio) is made up of little ceramic soldiers, each with a different face, tattoo and ID tag. The army consists of different platoons, each has fifty individual soldiers and a distinctive type of hat — the first platoon is named after the black-ribboned boater (or canotier) it wears. Each soldier also has three different faces so that you change their mood with a quick swivel of their head — a skill that would come in very useful for most people, we reckon. The whole platoon is for sale, along with some accompanying military vehicles and some limited-edition prints, although it seems rather a shame to split them up. One for big kids everywhere.
Amsterdam’s Foam gallery plays host to this year’s must-see photographic exhibition this summer. Pretty Much Everything is a survey of the work of photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and it features over 300 of the duo’s favourite images shot over their twenty-five-year careers. Having first come to the attention of an international audience via a ten-page feature in The Face in 1994, the pair currently reside in New York. Their unique and often strange blend of fashion and art has brought them commissions from top fashion houses such as YSL, Chanel, Balmain, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chloé as well as regular editorial work from the likes of W Magazine, Vogue and the New York Times. www.foam.nl
Things to See and Do
Rock Chic 15 JULy–31 AUGUST
Looking at the Rolling Stones today, it’s easy to forget how goddam cool they used to be. This has never been more apparent than in the photographs taken by photographer Dominique Tarlé during their time at the Villa Nellcôte on the French Riviera in the spring and summer of 1971, which go on show at the Atlas Gallery in London this month. The Stones were in dispute with their manager at the time, and the 97 per cent tax rate that they were subjected to led to the period of exile at the villa, where they were installed to record their next album, Exile on Main Street. Tarlé’s atmospheric photographs capture the lazy (and often drink- and drug-fuelled) days of the Stones and their friends, family and various hangers-on as they lie around louchely, all cheekbones and moodiness in the magnificent interiors. www.atlasgallery.com
18 JULy–01 NovEMBER
26 JUNE–04 NovEMBER
The fourth California Design Biennial: Action/Reaction takes place at the Pasadena Museum of California Art this month and promises to be well worth a visit. This is the fourth California Design Biennial, and it features some of the most innovative design produced in the state of California over the past two years. It’s divided into five main categories: industrial design, fashion, graphics, transportation and architecture, and instead of being chosen by the usual panel of judges, a different curator has been chosen for each category to ensure that the pieces chosen can be put into context and give the viewer greater understanding and a richer viewing experience. California is currently facing many economic, political and environmental challenges and this exhibition aims to focus on how both its established and emerging designers are responding to them.
Bling is one of those words that went from hip-hop slang to your gran in what seemed like a nanosecond. While the word might be relatively new, the concept certainly isn’t — ostentatious jewellery that looks cheap but probably isn’t, and loads of it. A new exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in London’s Bethnal Green looks at the diversity of jewellery that can be found in the East End of London. Like anything we wear, whether we’re slipping on a cygnet ring or a gold medallion, it’s making a statement about who we are (that’ll be a person with zero taste) and often has a personal significance too (a person with zero taste who loves their mum). Bling features work by local schoolchildren, students from the London College of Fashion and contemporary makers with East End connections, such as Brick Lane-based Grafik favourites Tatty Devine.
Things to See and Do
Summer Camp 30–31 JULy
The V&A Fete is now the V&A Summer Camp, and promises a weekend of fun-filled outdoor activities based on making, repairing, playing, learning new hobbies and swapping skills at the various ‘tents’ pitched around the campsite (aka the museum’s John Madjeski Garden). You can check out the communal campfire tent, plus the usual mix of live music, late bars and food and a special nighttime collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery. We’re particularly excited by the Typography Summer School’s “marathon back-to-back critique”, where any item featuring type can be brought along to be discussed by Fraser Muggeridge and the crew. You can take along your own work and get instant feedback, or take an example of typography (good, bad or ugly) that you’d like to discuss. Hours of typographic fun. www.vam.ac.uk
1–4 JULy (PART oNE), 8–11 JULy (PART TWo)
Goodwood, the race track that usually plays host to fast cars and horses, is hosting a weekend with a difference this August. As well as celebrating music with an eclectic mix of bands and DJs, Vintage at Goodwood celebrates fashion, film, art and design, with Morag Myerscough taking charge of design duties, as official ‘curator of design’. There’s a vintage race night, a classic car boot sale, burlesque dancers, a pop-up vintage high street and the WI are hosting a funny-shaped vegetable contest. You can camp (or glamp) for the weekend and the legendary Alvin Stardust is making an appearance. What more could any vintage fan want?
If you didn’t quite get around to visiting all the degree shows that you intended to go to this year (we know the feeling), then may we recommend a trip to the Business Design Centre, where you can see the cream of the UK’s design talent neatly gathered under one roof? The show is split into two parts — the first (from 1 to 4 July) covers Textiles, Fashion and Accessories, Contemporary Applied Art, Ceramics and Glass, Jewellery and Precious Metalwork; the second (from 8 to 11 July) features Furniture Design, Product Design, Spatial Design and Visual Communication, with an ever bigger area devoted to graphics and illustration. Both shows also feature a group of exhibitors from New Designers 2009, so you can see what they’ve all been up to in the past year.
Things to See and Do
Next Month in Grafik Special Report â€” New York Next month in Grafik we dedicate an entire issue to design in the Big Apple, revealing the movers and shakers of the NYC graphic design world. We poke around their studios, profile their latest work, get to know their neighbourhoods and hear what its like to work in Gotham. Rad.
featuring Mike Perry / Exposure / Ryan Waller / Part & Parcel / Miranda July / Stefan Sagmeister / Project Projects / Fogelson & Lubliner / Karlsson Wilker / Partners & Spade / Jeff Ramsey / Hoefler & Frere Jones / Helicopter / Topos and more www.grafikmag.com
Taking unremarkable objects and transforming them into abstract, graphically aware compositions, Tim Johannis is a master at manipulating the mundane. he relies on patience, perseverance and flexibility to produce photography that raises questions and creates illusion.
01 â€” Composition 0735, 2007
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 Talent
— — — — — — —
Grey Light, 2007 Triangulum, 2009 2-Simplex, 2009 Twosome, 2009 Screenstudy No. 2, 2010 Food, 2009 Flowers, 2009
Describe your style in three words. What’s in your camera bag? Where’s the most unlikely place you find inspiration?
Tell us about a favourite project you’ve completed recently.
What’s been the best and the worst reaction to your work?
How do you put together your still compositions?
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Magical abstract perceptions. Not too much. There’s a Canon 5d2 with a 24-70mm lens and a flash. When I know what I will be doing I take what I think I’ll need, like some extra lenses, tripod or laptop. I like to go to flea markets or shops with lots of kitsch items on offer. I can get really excited by all the crap I see there. They inspire me because you never know what you will find there. Sometimes I buy something with the idea to take a picture of it, but I never do. At the moment I’m busy with a study of insect screens. This material just has great possibilities. I started experimenting with it because of the moiré it creates. I’m often inspired by the way we look and what we see or don’t see. Moiré is interesting to me because we see something that our brain can’t handle. What we see is an optical illusion. The best reaction was someone saying that my pictures raise questions without any answers. The worst reaction was someone saying that his nine-year-old son could take the pictures I take. This was a while ago, though, and I was doing a different kind of work than I do now. I start with an idea in my head, but often that image doesn’t work and it becomes something else. I try a lot of different compositions and play with the light. Building the set can sometimes require a lot of patience—often things hang on wires and it gets really crowded with tripod and stuff. you have to be cautious. When I’ve lost my patience I stop working and continue another time. I guess it’s persistence that makes my pictures what they are. Keep your head cool and your feet warm.
Photoshop — friend or foe?
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
Definitely a friend. I don’t see a reason for it to be a foe. Photoshop gives you a lot of creative opportunities and control. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. I would be in my last year as a professional footballer, and say goodbye to my career at the World Cup playing for the Dutch team.
Paper engineer Matt Shlian originally studied ceramics, but his broad interests and singular way of seeing the world soon led him to explore the three-dimensional properties of paper. he now lectures at the University of Michigan, sharing his expertise while expanding the boundaries of his practice into science, illustration, robotics and beyond.
01 â€” Sasq Color, paper, 2010 02 â€” Warped Stellation, paper, 2008
01 — Murq, ballpoint pen and paint pen, 2007 02 — Everything, Everything, ballpoint pen, 2007 03 — 12 Morning Glory Lane, ballpoint pen, 2007 06 — 456, pen, 2008
05 â€” Untitled (Thesis), paper, motor, string, 2006 06 â€” Scales Cut, paper, 2009
Describe your style in three words. What is in your pencil case? What first drew you to paper engineering?
Tell us about a favourite project you’ve completed recently. Where do you find inspiration?
What role do computers play in your creative process?
What’s been the best and the worst reaction to your work?
Seeing is forgetting. Sharpie markers and x-Acto knives. I originally went to school for ceramics, but realised early on that I was interested in everything. I studied glass, painting, performance, sound and by the end of my degree I had a dual major in ceramics and print media. I wasn’t making traditional print or ceramic work at that point. Instead I would create large digital prints and, using a series of cut scores and creases, create large-scale… I wanted the work to be interactive and for the image to relate to the folds. I loved the immediacy of paper as a medium. I also loved the geometry. Figuring out the pieces was like solving a puzzle. I’m a highly visual person; I have to see something to make sense of it. one of my faculty advisers, Anne Currier, started buying me pop-up books and I started dissecting them and figuring out how they worked. It took off from there. Last summer I had the chance to work with a robotics expert. We made a 5-metre kinetic piece out of Tyvek. Its two forms would expand and contract in syncopation using pulleys, microcontrollers and motors. It scared children. I find inspiration in just about everything—protein misfolding, Arabic tile patterning, systematic drawing, architecture, biomimetics, nature, music etc. I have a unique way of misunderstanding the world that helps me see things that are easily overlooked. I have begun collaborating with scientists and researchers both at the University of Michigan and at the University of Freiburg in Germany. We work on the nanoscale, translating paper structures to micro-folds. Researchers see paper engineering as a metaphor for scientific principles; I see their inquiries as a basis for artistic inspiration. I am intrigued by the ‘misuse’ of technology. I find that when I try to use technology for its intended purpose, I am often confronted with a series of mistakes or unexpected ‘errors’. I want to push these moments, when our digital technology goes awry, to a place where the error becomes interesting. Whenever I give a lecture I always bring examples of my work. I love watching adults run to play with and investigate the pieces at the end of a talk. It’s easy to lose that sense of wonder; it’s nice to watch people find it. occasionally I’ll run into an origami fundamentalist who will be infuriated with my work. Traditional origami uses a square sheet of paper, no cuts, no gluing—all folds. Paper engineers use glue, knives, plotters, laser cutters etc. These purists think of this as ‘cheating’. I’ve been in a fight or two with them in the past. I have respect for origami, I just have no patience for it, and I’m terrible at following directions.
Who are your heroes?
What’s the most interesting thing you have learned from your students?
How has your experience as an educator impacted upon your own practice?
Musicians, performers, writers, artists, producers… people like Brian Eno, Matthew Goulish, Werner herzog, Buckminster Fuller, Edward Tufte etc. on the paper scene, I’m in love with Lothar Meggendorfer, vojtech Kubasta, Noriko Ambe and Jen Stark. My students surprise me every year. This past year was all about iterative design—working, reworking and overworking things. I subscribe to the idea of pushing work far past its point of collapse, because we need to know where to draw the line the next time we make it. It is an unreasonable practice, but it’s how the best work is generated. I’m making a sign next year for my classroom that says: “It’s great, now do it again.” I have become more patient with myself, and with my process. you either work for free or for a lot of money.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
01 Michaël Snitker First Light: Photography and Astronomy — 02 Hjärta Smärta Kolla! — 03 Praline Richard Rogers + Architects — 04 Nick Bell Studio Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material — 05 Project Projects Museo Tamayo — 06 Nous Vous Tokyo Police Club — 07 People Collective Next Wave Festival — 08 Pentagram Surreal house — 09 Robin Howie Revival — 10 Landfill Editions/Manymono Pick Me Up Series 25
First Light: Photography and Astronomy
“Without light, there would be no such thing as photography; nor would there be any knowledge of the universe.” So says Saskia Asser, curator of First Light, an exhibition at Amsterdam’s Huis Marseille Museum exploring the relationship between photography and astronomy. The exhibition is the culmination of five years’ worth of hard work by Asser herself, and it displays historical photos of planets and stars alongside the spectacular images captured by modern telescopes such as Hubble. Asser called upon Michaël Snitker (designer of Huis Marseille’s recently updated identity) to design First Light: Photography and Astronomy, a concept-driven “pocket guide to the universe” that accompanies the exhibition. The astronomical relationship between distance and time was a central theme within First Light — since light from distant stars takes millions of years to reach Earth, to look at them is to look into the past. Snitker ordered the book’s content to reflect this, progressing from historic photographs of young stars through to modern images of the Showcase
ancient depths of our universe. He took conceptual cues from Cosmic View, a book by Dutch educator Kees Boeke that directly inspired Charles and Ray Eames’s iconic Powers of Ten film from 1977. “Boeke and Eames used powers of ten to convey the concept of distances travelled,” Snitker explains, “whereas, in First Light, it‘s the typography that conveys distances via the progression from large 360 pt letters to small 5 pt letters; from near to far.” Snitker’s dedication to astronomical science extended to the cover itself, with a lone image of deep space printed in negative to emulate the way in which such photographs are usually studied scientifically. Within, the English and Dutch texts are differentiated through the use of the aptly titled typefaces Times Ten, Univers and Futura. Snitker’s meticulous, concept-driven design comes together in a handbook-sized format — a graphic designer’s guide to the galaxy. Gorgeous. www.snitker.nl www.huismarseille.nl 26
Kolla! For those who don’t speak Swedish, that means ‘check it out’ — and it’s also the name of a competition held annually to celebrate the best graphic design, illustration and animation Sweden has to offer. This year, Stockholm-based design studio Hjärta Smärta was in charge of Kolla!’s graphic identity, taking an approach that focused on the part of awards schemes we’re all keen to know more about: the judging process. “This kind of assignment is addressed towards people within our own profession,” Hjärta Smärta’s Angela Tillman Sperandio explains, “so we saw this as an opportunity to do something more internalised, focusing on the judging and, specifically, the jury.” To make the judging process more transparent, Hjärta Smärta recorded and transcribed parts of the jury discussion, before processing the transcript using a computer program to create a set of wordbased ‘statistics’ that formed the basis for the identity. “Some words were typical of the 2010 design Showcase
vocabulary and will probably seem dated in a couple of years. Other words don’t even exist — the jury invented them themselves,” Sperandio muses. “What’s interesting is that the words’ meaning disappears when they are stripped of content, so they serve more as a reminder that the discussion has taken place.” Once the words had been processed and selected, Hjärta Smärta began editing to create further lists for the Kolla! posters, invitations and diplomas. Type was set in Times throughout, and blind-embossed onto vivid cyan card for the catalogue cover, with the full list of words reproduced within. “Since we couldn’t predict the end result, and our method was quite boring, the end result is far more humorous than we expected,” Sperandio adds. Since it’s all in Swedish, we’ll have to take her word for it, but while the process behind the identity might have been boring, the end result is anything but. ww.hjartasmarta.se 27
Richard Rogers + Architects
Richard Rogers is one of the world’s most respected living architects — from Paris’s Centre Pompidou to Madrid’s Barajas Airport, examples of his mastery of intricate modernism have become iconic. Since 2008, an exhibition celebrating his career has been touring the globe, with a vibrant identity designed by Praline, but although a book was published to coincide with the show, Praline wasn’t involved in the design — nor was it impressed with the outcome. The studio decided to design its own book, and with Rogers’s support it approached newly launched publishers Fiell to put the idea in motion. “With all the existing designs and images from the exhibition, we assumed that this project would be easy,” explains Praline’s David Tanguy, “but we were wrong.” The graphic language of the exhibition — modernist but friendly and expressive — was kept intact, but used to tell a different story about Rogers and his work. Praline also wanted to avoid the stereotypical conventions of other architecture books, where glossy full-bleed photography is the Showcase
norm. Instead, the images are given room to breathe with ample white space, and original initial sketches are included alongside the schematics and photographs. The matt paper stock, Tanguy notes, was a point of contention that Praline had to fight for. Overall, the tactility of the final product was a major concern, as Praline wanted the book to feel “right” in the hand. Praline was in constant contact with Rogers throughout the project, and the architect had high hopes for the new book to be “the best ever about his work”. By the time the project was complete his hopes had been realised, with Richard Rogers + Architects serving not only as a fitting tribute, but also as a useful resource for the great man himself in the lectures he gives. The softcover version will be sold alongside the exhibition as it continues to tour, but the hardback is available in bookshops worldwide. www.designbypraline.com www.fiell.com 28
Next Wave Festival
adopt as their mantra,” says Trechter. “We also started Melbourne’s biennial Next Wave Festival has been an reading about how risk was responsible for human important fixture of the Australian arts calendar beings’ ability to adapt — because we take chances, for the past twenty-five years; encompassing we progress.” They set about creating a collection exhibitions, performances, workshops and talks, it of tattoo-esque titles, scanning sketches straight promotes the titular ‘next wave’ of emerging artists from their notebooks to create, in Trechter’s words, from Australia and beyond. Design of the festival’s “nothing particularly fancy or special, but something identity is a notoriously huge undertaking, so that felt very tactile and human”. when Aaron Moodie decided to make a pitch for Next Combined with glyphs from the pair’s extensive Wave 2010, he was quick to enlist friend and fellow library, the hand-rendered type creates a stark, designer Colin Trechter to collaborate with and almost tribal aesthetic, tying together ideas of People Collective was born. However, with Moodie in Melbourne and Trechter in Minneapolis, things became human progression to give the identity a ‘dawn of civilisation’ feel. The finished designs were a little more complex. “Aaron called to let me know presented on everything from fliers to tote bags, that we’d got the job,” Trechter explains, “and we appearing across Melbourne for the duration of the basically started researching and brainstorming festival and attracting more than their fair share right away via Skype, email and Tumblr.” of compliments. As for People Collective? Moodie and Next Wave’s theme for 2010 was “No Risk Too Great”, Trechter are now both based in Melbourne and are busy a maxim which struck an emotional chord with both with several exciting new projects. Watch this space. designers. “The theme struck us as a sort of rule to live by. It is such a bold sentiment, but has the thrill and romanticism of something someone invincible might www.peoplecollective.com.au Showcase
Nick Bell Studio
Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material
It’s a rare project these days that tempts Nick Bell back into book design. In his own words: “It’s an activity we have had to severely limit. Books take an age to design, and the fee has become an issue — so many designers are willing to design books for nothing because they’re so creatively rewarding.” In the past five years, Nick Bell Design had worked on only one such project — Come Alive!: The Spirited Art of Sister Corita, for Four Corners in 2006. However, when the same publishers approached Bell in 2008 with a project chronicling the work of New York artists’ collective Group Material, the challenge proved too interesting to turn down. Group Material was active between 1979 and 1996, producing exhibition-based work which addressed social issues of the time. Working with editor Julie Ault (a former Group Material member), the studio devised a visual system for the book’s structure that would accommodate the wide variety of content — exhibition photographs, documents and written Showcase
communication — without elevating it to the status of artwork. The ideas were also rooted in practicality, as dictated by the brief. “The publishers wanted a book that feels approachable, friendly,” Bell explains. “They were adamant it should not be hardback. Ault didn’t want the book to become unwieldy, and it had to be affordable.” As a result, Show and Tell presents photographs full-bleed and documents full size, with text in the foreground overlapping parts of the images and, as Bell explains, “preventing them from becoming too precious”. This creates an immersive experience for the reader, so Show and Tell seems more like a documentary of Group Material’s activity, and a continuation of their ethos, rather than a conventional art book. Who knows when Bell and his studio might make their next foray into book design, but if Show and Tell is anything to go by, the results will be worth the wait. www.nickbelldesign.co.uk 30
Rufino Tamayo may not be as widely known as his contemporaries Diego Riviera or Frida Kahlo, but the Mexican artist managed to make plenty of waves of his own during his fifty-year career. So much so, in fact, he’s had a museum named after him — Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo, which houses a collection of his work as well as exhibits from a variety of other artists. The museum has recently refocused its programme to present a wider range of activities, events and commissioned projects, marking the change with a new identity designed by New York City-based studio Project Projects. Designer Rob Giampietro explains: “Project Projects determined that the identity should be both iconic and visually distinctive, whilst maintaining a level of variability and play which reflected the museum’s open-ended mission.” The designers offered a diverse range of ideas at their first presentation. “The museum had a strong preference for the direction which featured the greatest amount of graphic play,” Giampietro notes. A variable ‘T’ was chosen as a primary typographic mark for the museum, which
could be subtly altered to fit the range of different materials within the identity. Project Projects also developed a proposal for Museo Tamayo’s in-house publication, Rufino, utilising a pocket-sized format which would feel recognisable to its readers. “Rufino’s a good example of the Museo Tamayo’s overall emphasis on informality and locality,” explains Giampietro. “We were interested in the Reader’s Digest formats that are found at checkouts in Mexican supermarkets, but wanted to reinvent that format so it felt both familiar and fresh.” This approach has become an emblematic thread running through Project Projects’ portfolio, as Giampietro is keen to point out. “We have a continuing interest in the local,” he states. “Even though we were working internationally in Mexico, we were always engaged by the needs of the immediate community surrounding the museum. Often the local is a great starting point.” Rufino Tamayo would be proud. www.projectprojects.com www.museotamayo.org
Pick Me Up Series
Anyone who visited the Pick Me Up graphic art fair at Somerset House this year is likely to have stumbled upon plenty of live printing workshops in the maze of rooms that make up the venue’s Embankment Gallery. Among them was Landfill Editions, a small Londonbased publisher established in winter 2009, whose printing service Manymono brought their Risograph machine along to join the festivities. For the fair, Landfill created a series of ten limited-edition prints and four six-colour books designed by, among others, Jim Stoten, Adrian Fleet, Mike Perry and Brecht Vandenbrouke. Landfill’s Hugh Frost takes up the story: “I actually approached Claire Catterall (Pick Me Up’s curator) about selling Landfill’s first series of prints at the excellent Somerset House Christmas fair. Claire had decided to focus on 3D products for that event, but liked the prints so she brought us on board for Pick Me Up instead.” With a series of prints and zines in mind for the fair, Frost approached a handful of Showcase
designers and illustrators — “an even mix of friends and strangers whose work I’d seen online” — with an open brief that was nothing more than technical print specifications. “I loved the work of everyone involved,” Frost adds. “I knew, whatever creative direction they took, I’d be happy to publish it.” Risograph machines — similar to screenprinting, but housed in the body of a photocopier — are capable of producing both gloriously bright spot colours and attractive overprints, a feature which the contributing designers and illustrators took full advantage of. In spite of a few technical glitches in the weeks before the fair, Landfill was able to roll out a gorgeous set of illustrative prints and zines in time for Pick Me Up. During the fair, the team were also busy designing their next project — a book of fictional objects to form a new collection for Somerset House itself. Well worth picking up. www.landfilleditions.com 32
OL H E LI A M A D E C D E D A N C E R E G U L A T E C H M A R E D T O M E Y O U , E D A C E AN D S O F D C E E D A C E A T O U C H O F D N C E R E O V I V A L RO R C E T . M / S D B E T S A L I H E 0 : 2 0 9 F R U OR R E E E N C E # 0 1 6 5 O U QT E 1 N O 0 : 0 T O T A L = £ 1 2 4 . 50
Do you swing? No, not the keys-in-a-bowl, seedy suburbia kind of swinging — calm down. We’re talking about swing dancing, which has seen something of a renaissance in London recently with dance troupes popping up across the city. Revival, a new Londonbased company, is poised to tap into this new trend with faithful reproductions of Thirties and Forties fashions designed to appeal to the new swing set. Revival called upon designer and current RCA student Robin Howie to produce a fitting identity for the brand. Revival is a brand steeped in nostalgia, which, as Howie puts it, is “a precarious position for new design”. The identity he created would have to tread a fine line between the old and the new, avoiding the obvious retro clichés along the way. “It became evident that the fantastic original typography from the swing era is sadly nowadays not all that far from the murky world of Microsoft clip art,” Howie explains. To avoid pastiche, he designed a bespoke typeface for Showcase
Revival based upon the German font Nobel, taking cues from the stylistic vernacular of Thirties and Forties design while adding more contemporary elements. “Essentially, Revival is about putting elements of one era into dialogue with the present day,” says Howie. This interplay of old and new was also carried through into the illustrations he created in lieu of a company logo. Vintage images are juxtaposed with contemporary, often mundane settings, offering a graphic nod to the idea of injecting glamour into our everyday lives. “What I like about the illustrations is that they can get away with being a bit ugly,” he muses. “I like being able to juxtapose the decadence of bygone years with the dullness of a present-day high street or kebab shop.” Revival certainly sounds like the perfect antidote to modern-day drudgery, and the finished identity is itself an antidote to overplayed ‘vintage’ style design. www.robinhowie.co.uk 33
Tokyo Police Club
Nous Vous certainly seems to have a knack for coming up with interesting photographic album cover designs; the latest release is the second to be created by the London- and Leeds-based trio in as many years. This time, the band in question — Toyko Police Club, a Canadian indie-rock outfit — spotted Nous Vous’s previous sleeve designs on a blog and approached the studio to overhaul the band’s graphic identity. “The band were looking to relaunch themselves,” explains William Edmonds, one-third of the Nous Vous line-up, “and the imagery and marketing was something they considered an important factor.” The band were keen for Nous Vous to get stuck in with every aspect of the new identity, but the designers decided to tackle the logo and cover designs for upcoming release Champ before expanding the project later on. “We started by attempting to nail down the logo, creating letters physically then trying to reference them two-dimensionally,” Edmonds continues. “Eventually, we simplified our approach
using Torque, a typeface from Village which would work both alone and over imagery.” The logo’s simplicity contrasts with a photograph of a busy, dynamic installation on the album cover, which Nous Vous put together on a tight budget. “We wanted the installation to be dense and imbue a sense of energy,” adds Edmonds, “using both found and made objects, and letting our instincts do the assembling.” Nous Vous also drew upon the instincts of Tom Jackson, a photographer whose work its members admired and who worked collaboratively with the trio throughout the project. “I think he enjoyed it as much as we did,” muses Edmonds, and it certainly looks like fun — a colourful, ramshackle pile of objects (which had a habit of toppling over, we’re told) and plenty of celebratory confetti chucked around for an energetic effect. It’s an unashamedly cheerful cover — not a bum note in sight. www.nousvous.eu www.tokyopoliceclub.com
Ever wished you could step inside a surrealist painting? Usually, such an act would require a decent dose of REM sleep or some seriously heavyweight hallucinogens, but thanks to the Barbican Art Gallery’s Surreal House installation, the only thing you’ll need to drop is the entry fee. A maze of rooms has been constructed within the gallery by architects Carmody Groarke, housing a mixture of surrealist art, architecture and a plethora of workshops, talks and film screenings. Pentagram was entrusted with the design of the exhibition graphics after Angus Hyland’s interest was piqued by the possibility of exploring surrealism within graphic design. The Barbican is known for its heavyweight, Futura-led identity, so the challenge for Pentagram was to produce exhibition graphics and other materials that would work in the strongly branded setting for Surreal House. Marketing materials had to adhere to strict brand guidelines, but Pentagram
found more freedom in the design of the exhibition graphics and the catalogue. The latter’s design is a subtle graphic interpretation of surrealism, as Hyland explains: “We were keen to make many aspects of the catalogue as counterintuitive as possible in order to break conventions. So, for example, the title page is located in the centre, the ribbon is attached to the bottom of the book, and typefaces and caption scales change throughout.” It’s strewn with unexpected quirks, organised according to a structure that mimics the demarcation of the exhibition itself, with each section assigned its own typographic vignette. “We raided a German book called Retrofonts for display faces,” Hyland adds. He seems pleased with the outcome of the project, which even involved his first foray into — of all things — tea towel design. Surreal indeed. www.pentagram.com
Self portrait by Ulises Carrión, founder of Other Books and So, Amsterdam, photo by J. Liggins, 1979
Book Show A new exhibition opening this month at Eastside Projects in Birmingham looks at books through the eyes of artists — books as physical objects, symbols and carriers of meaning. As we consume written and visual content in increasingly different ways, the book becomes an interesting form with changing values. here, curators JAMES LANGDoN and GAvIN WADE present the work of five of the artists included in Book Show. Eastside Projects is an exhibition space that rejects definitive forms and neutral positions. The gallery has no default state. Each successive exhibition responds to the legacy of the previous exhibitions and to the evolving conditions of the space, drawing on multiple modes and histories of display.
Carrión’s perspective on the form of the book de-emphasises any inherent union between the material form of the book and its printed content. The book is not a neutral platform, it offers a specific set of display conditions that bookmakers must respond to.
Book Show applies this approach to the form of the book. It is not an exhibition of books, it is an exhibition of artworks, objects and structures that address the physical form of the book and reveal its characteristics as a space for display.
Book Show is at Eastside Projects from 3 July to 4 September 2010. It includes work by Nina Beier and Marie Lund, Ulises Carrión, Daniel Eatock, Martino Gamper, Nina Katchadourian, Kelly Large, Fraser Muggeridge Studio, Radim Peško, Rollo Press, Yann Sérandour, Simon Starling, Werkplaats Typografie and Keith Wilson.
The starting point for the exhibition is Ulises Carrión’s provocative text The New Art of Making Books (1975). Carrión was the founder of other Books and So in Amsterdam, a gallery and bookstore that during its short life (1975—79) became the first major centre for the flourishing international artist-led publishing scene. Article
01 Keith Wilson Library â€” 1998
Library is a monument to storytelling, a piece of found civic minimalism inscribed with a familiar yet otherwise untold history of use â€” dust and gum and indoor grime and fingerprints. This quiet story is now as concretely present as the hardback stories these casements once contained are absent. No books or shelves, the casements are hollowed out, all surface now, and an alternative narrative is revealed there, written in so much dust.
file under non-fiction object and idea co-exist in space they are not the same, but may occupy the same space the object is not the object of study there is nothing to study without the object the relationship between object and idea is non-hierarchical objects are different (ontologically and epistemologically) they are fabrications which require that you believe in them file under fiction (Keith Wilson, 2010)
02 Nina Katchadourian
Primitive Art from The Akron Stacks — 2001
The Sorted Books project began in 1993 and is ongoing. The project has taken place in many different places over the years, ranging from private homes to specialised public book collections. The process is the same in every case: sorting through a collection of books, pulling out particular titles and eventually grouping the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence, from top to bottom. The final results are shown either as photographs of the book clusters or as the actual stacks themselves, shown on the shelves of the library they were drawn from. Taken as a whole, the clusters from each sorting aim to examine that particular library’s focus, idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies — a cross section of that library’s holdings. At present, the Sorted Books project comprises more than 130 book clusters.
The image shown is from a book sorting I did by invitation at the Akron Art Museum in 2001 based on the holdings of the museum’s own research library. Its book collection had extensive materials and catalogues from various contemporary art exhibitions, as well as many large-format, hardback monographs. There was a special section on the business and fundraising side of museum administration. The books from the library did not circulate to the general public, and the library itself was so separate from the main exhibition areas that most visitors had no idea there was a library there at all. When the sorting project was complete, thirteen book clusters were brought to the gift shop located behind the front desk and integrated into the displays. Courtesy of the artist, Sara Meltzer gallery and Catharine Clark gallery.
Ms K Large British Library Researching the World’s Knowledge 610370 Expires 10-July-12 — 2010
Library Amnesty â€” 2010
Inside the White Cube (expanded edition), 2008 and Incomplete Open Cubes, 2010
Eighteen copies of Inside the White Cube by Brian O’Doherty inserted in a cubic slipcase.
This box can contain up to twelve copies of Sol LeWitt’s book Incomplete Open Cubes. The owner of the box is invited to complete this work by adding any copies of the book that he has been able to collect. JAMES LANGDoN: The two works you are presenting in Book Show treat books both as physical objects and representations of certain iconic ideas of display. You often make direct use of significant books rather than just refer to them. yANN SéRANDoUR: Given my primary interest in the act of reading and gathering books together into collections, I can’t only refer to them, I have to make use of them. This is also a way to give them a new value by including them in a new display context. Reframing a book is a way to change its meaning. JL: There also seems to be an element of humour in the works. Both works are on one level very simple puns — jokes at the expense of what might now be considered dogmatic or rigid ideas of how art should be displayed, both in books and in exhibitions.
yS: Indeed, let’s say they are quite stupid puns. I used the titles of these books to reflect their physical properties onto themselves. Inside the White Cube is a major text about the display of art. I liked the idea that the cardboard cube contains the story of its own deconstruction. Making a paradoxical object is a way to make us think about it. JL: You don’t mean to undermine the ideologies in the books you appropriate, but to re-engage with them. yS: Incomplete Open Cubes was my answer to the question of the legacy of Sol LeWitt’s work in the context of a retrospective of his artist’s books. The experience of the void, of the nothingness and of the missing is fascinating. The act of collecting is just a way to deal with those ideas.
“Conceptual Artists are mystics rather than rationalists.” — Sol LeWitt
Pearson Superlative book design and the name David Pearson come in the same breath for anyone who has watched Penguinâ€™s recent design triumphs. Though Pearson made his name at Penguin, he is very much his own man, as RoBERT URqUhART discovered when he met him at his studio and found a frank but charming man with rather unexpected ambitionsâ€Ś
Portrait of David Pearson by Ivan Jones ivan-jones.co.uk Alternative Penguin logo by David Pearson, Penguin Books, 2007
Left — Spines from the Great Ideas series by David Pearson Right — Decline of the English Murder, cover by David Pearson, 181mm(h) x 111mm(w), Penguin Books, 2009
Left to Right — covers for Great Ideas series V by David Pearson, 181mm(h) x 111mm(w), 2010
When I arrive at David Pearson’s studio in the romanticsounding Back hill in Clerkenwell, London, he’s busy in the ladies’ toilets, washing up plates from last night’s fish and chip supper. he’s immediately likeable: self-effacing, irreverent, energetic and funny. Best known for his book design work with Penguin Books, but with a portfolio that spans several other publishing houses and a glorious slew of awards and countless nominations, at the age of thirty-two, Pearson is by far the youngest designer I’ve ever interviewed for a profile article. Born in Cleethorpes and raised in Grimsby, the son of a shoe shop owner, Pearson’s first run-in with graphic design was a man who came to make a sign for his father’s shop. “He wore brogues and that fact impressed me,” recalls Pearson. The brogue-wearing signmaker turned out to be the local art and design foundation teacher, a man called Mike Wilkes, and Pearson found that his love of history and art could become a career if he directed his passion towards graphic design. Later on, his tutors at St Martins, Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon, would lead to further enlightenment and collaboration. We start the interview by talking about Penguin Books, the publishing house that launched Pearson into the design establishment. Pearson’s fascination with the history of the company started early in life as he reminisces:
“I remember my parents had a box set of Penguin books with multicoloured spines. I used them like toy building blocks, taking them out and rearranging them, at the age of three or four. It all started then.” Later on, the rich design history of Penguin
provided Pearson with plenty of scope to research and arrive at his own conclusions about his own working practices. “I was drawn to the modernist element,” he explains, “the early 1960s
period of book design by people like Alan Fletcher and Derek Birdsall. There was an interesting twist in the very abstracted, sometimes sinister, imagery that they used. I like the fact that at times you have to decode the image to understand the context and subject of the book.”
Pearson’s personal interest in the company was soon picked up by the in-house team at Penguin, who were only too happy to let him loose on some of the more onerous design tasks. “I rebranded all their reference books,” explains Pearson.
“I was a junior designer and working on reference books was seen as a bit of a bum deal for most people, but I’ve got that kind of brain. I really wanted to do it, it fascinated me.”
Pearson was in the right place at the right time. The company was gearing up for its seventieth anniversary and having a willing and able designer interested in the company’s archives meant that Penguin was able to get far more out of the arrangement than if it had hired someone less passionate about the history of the place.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Pearson uncovered the archives single-handedly but he has certainly been an excellent design ambassador, a key player in the reawakening of the brand, to the point where it’s impossible at the moment to think about Penguin without its associated design history. We move on to talk about Pearson’s design work within the organisation. When I ask him whether working for Penguin was an easy ride, he astutely points to his work on the Great Ideas series: “It was an experiment from their point of view. I
Further collaboration with Phil Baines was possible in 2005 when Pearson initiated Penguin by Design, a book charting seventy years of paperback design. he asked Baines to write the book and, although Baines admits he wasn’t sure he knew enough about the subject, he said yes. “The design
Ideas series. Each series contains twenty titles; each title is a classic philosophical work. Pearson was keen to collaborate on the task and invited Alistair hall and his ex-tutors Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon to join him. “When David first mentioned the series, it sounded exciting,” explains Baines. “His first
My question, although basic, obviously touched a nerve. Later, via email, Pearson responds: “I feel slightly
had already been suggested and we talked about how much text, and of what kind, and went from there,” states Baines. “I made a couple of visits to the archive, I fed him shopping lists, and he’d make a shortlist from which we edited back to make the book. had a free hand. It made me look like a better designer. I got given There was a lot of irreverent email banter, quite a lot of beer, late more responsibility and in turn more freedom. It was a joy to nights and pushing the deadline.” Talking to Pearson about archive research, it’s clear that work with a team that allowed you to do, within reason, whatever it’s the linchpin in his success as a designer. “As you can see I’ve you wanted to do.” one example of this was a logo redesign. “Back in 2002 got an ‘archive tan’,” he laughs. “I spend a lot of time indoors — probably too much for my own good — conducting research. It Pentagram were given the job of tweaking the iconic Penguin makes me feel like I’ve made the right design decisions. That logo. Someone new arrived at head office and they wanted to confidence in history is important to me.” make a statement,” explains Pearson. “I decided to create my I ask him whether this can lead to innovation or own logo as originally there were two logos for the company.” Pearson was even allowed to use his ‘unofficial’ logo on the retrospection. “I look for the things that went wrong with the print process that don’t happen any more,” states Pearson. books he designed, which reveals not only the trust and faith “Misregistering, for instance, or images cropped in an unusual, Penguin must have had in its junior but also, perhaps, a slightly scary way. I like the back story. I try to move modern glimmer of what made Penguin such an iconic publishing print back to that point, giving the reader something that house in the first place—giving a designer the freedom to challenges the eye a bit. But it is contrived. I don’t know where explore and exploit the brand. my work is going to sit in a few years’ time. Is it going to fail to By 2004 Pearson had started work on what would keep its place?” become the backbone of his book design portfolio, the Great
roughs, although slightly inaccurate historically, clearly showed what he wanted to do: balance historical sensitivity with the particular communicative requirements of book covers. He asked Catherine Dixon and I to give historical pointers and asked if we'd like to contribute designs as well. We ended up doing designs for books whose writing predated print. At that point David felt that we would be more comfortable with that area than he.” The series was a success and Penguin
uncomfortable with the retro label as it feels a little too simplistic perhaps. In the briefing processes we were keen to avoid producing pure pastiche; rather we tried to provide the work [with] a modern — or even post-modern — twist. This is perhaps most apparent with Great Ideas where quite often you are seeing two visual worlds collide.”
commissioned four more—a commission that is still being worked on by the same team today.
“As you can see, I’ve got an ‘archive tan’. I spend a lot of time indoors—probably too much for my own good—conducting research. It makes me feel like I’ve made the right design decisions. That confidence in history is important to me.”
Éditions Zulma covers Top shelf, left to right — Lune captive dans un oeil mort, 190mm(h) x 125mm(w), 2008 / L’Univers, 190mm(h) x 125mm(w), 2009 / Le Goût âpre des kakis (proposal), 190mm(h) x 125mm(w), 2009 Middle shelf, left to right — Brève histoire des fesses (Brief history of the buttocks), 190mm(h) x 125mm(w), 2009 / Dictionnaire du parfait cynique 150mm(h) x 105mm(w), 2006 / L’Alfa Romeo, 150mm(h) x 105mm(w), 2009 Bottom shelf, left to right — La Cène,180mm(h) x 120mm(w), 2007 / Comment va la douleur?, 190mm(h) x 125mm(w), 2006
Top shelf, left to right — covers by David Pearson for Emma, 240mm(h) x 156mm(w), White’s Books, 2009, illustration by Amy Gibson; Sherlock Holmes, 240mm(h) x 156mm(w), White’s Books, 2009, illustration by Michael Kirkham; Treasure Island, 240mm(h) x 156mm(w), White’s Books, 2008, illustration by Stanley Donwood; The Kreutzer Sonata, 181mm(h) x 111mm(w), Penguin Books, 2007; Eros Unbound, 181mm(h) x 111mm(w), Penguin Books, 2007; A Russian Affair, 181mm(h) x 111mm(w), Penguin Books, 2007, illustration by Victoria Sawdon Bottom shelf, left to right — covers designed by David Pearson for White’s Books pocket hardback series for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes. All cover illustrations by Joe Mclaren, 187mm(h) x 124mm(w), White's Books 2010, available for £6.99
Pearson, Baines, Dixon and hall have certainly managed to keep the pace and variation, and Pearson is satisfied with the work. “Generally speaking, I have liked the covers more as
we have progressed: partly because I tend to feel embarrassed about my older work and partly because I feel I have taken more risks as I’ve become more senior,” he muses. “That said, I will always look most fondly at certain covers in the first series which helped me to realise the potential of the project. In particular, Phil Baines’s cover for Meditations showed me that I could push things much further than I had originally imagined, since it broke so many established rules.”
Putting Penguin to one side, we then look at the work that Pearson has created for éditions Zulma, a French publishing house that he’s been working with since 2006. Clearly more relaxed and at ease with the workflow, Pearson explains the process: “It's more of a meditative process for these.
The covers are a result of me experimenting with form, without the weight of the text on my shoulders, as I can't read French, so it's probably more closely aligned with knitting as a pastime.”
Apart from ‘knitting’, Pearson has been busy setting up his own publishing house, called White’s Books, with Jon Jackson, who is the “brains behind it”, according to Pearson. At the time of my visit, Pearson was due to be finishing the Using classic literature which is copyright-free they’ve fifth and final series of Great Ideas. I got the feeling that this might been able to repackage the great works under the art prove a turning point in his career and asked him whether he felt direction of Pearson, who has commissioned illustrators that the Penguin had become an albatross around his neck. to produce cover designs. “These are illustrators that I greatly he waxes both sanguine and nostalgic as he ponders the admire and, for selfish reasons, have always wanted to work series and the possibility of the end of his working relationship with,” explains Pearson. “It genuinely feels like we offer an attractive brief, under the auspice of a non-repeating, ‘narrative’ with the brand that he has loved since childhood. “I have loved working on a project that seems to complement my own skill pattern.” Pearson is keen to point out that he likes to work base,” he reflects. “That said, 100 covers is a lot, some might say with illustrators who produce “things”, be it linocut or rubber too many, so it feels right to bring things to a close. I also worry stamps. The project is an excellent vehicle for his interest about becoming typecast.” in collaboration and book design, and so far he’s worked A book designer worrying about being typecast—there’s with a wide group of illustrators including Petra Börner and a joke in there somewhere. We move on to talk about the Stanley Donwood. Aside from design, Pearson has been wider role of the book designer. Is it, for instance, the job learning about the book business as a whole: “I want to get experience in the industry, I want to learn about how books of a designer to sell the book? Does the designer have a are made and sold. It’s a murky business dealing with Amazon responsibility to the author? And what is it like to work for but I’ve got to learn.” a contemporary author rather than one, like all bar one in the I ask what will fill the void left by Penguin and Pearson Great Ideas series, who died many years ago? “Let’s face it,” explains Pearson, “had many of the authors says that he’s going to paint some shelves and watch that I’ve worked on been around today they wouldn’t have liked the World Cup. he shows me his guilty pleasure, some what I’d done. They would have thought my designs wholly 1970s Corgi book covers with scantily clad ladies draped inappropriate.” Providing an example, Pearson states: “With over the titles, and we talk about our future and the future Chinua Achebe, the only living author in the Great Ideas series, of publishing. I had to get an approval and he rejected it straight off. The design Pearson is arming himself, like many of our generation, was meant to be kitsch, tongue-in-cheek, and he thought that with tools beyond his profession in order to survive. The people wouldn’t get that quickly enough. I’m thinking: ‘Can we irreverent humour and the self-effacing nature are not push it further — how cheeky can I be? I want to make it B movie.’ superficial tactics, they are as necessary to him as his research The book is based on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, it has or, as Pearson puts it: “I really don't know where my future lies. a safari lounge asthaetic, it’s an interesting situation. Maybe I should have spoken to Achebe before I started work on it.”
This industry changes so quickly. I just hope I'm fleet-footed enough to go with it. If not, I am quite a handy window cleaner.”
Far left — The Road, cover designed by David Pearson, 198mm(h) x 129mm(w), Picador, 2009 Left — Rubber stamp used to create The Road artwork
The Sunset Limited, cover designed by David Pearson, 198mm(h) x 129mm(w), Picador, 2010
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David Downton nominates — Peter Turner “I chose Peter’s work because although it is completely contemporary, it refers back to what might be called ‘classical’ style of fashion illustration. There is an ease and a sophistication to his imagery (and his mark making) that is refreshing in a world ‘gone digital” firstname.lastname@example.org 52
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To some, it is a multi-million dollar industry, to others it’s a system of seasons and ever-changing trends, but in this month’s fashion Special Report we wanted to seek out the corners of fashion where left-field thinking, bucking trends and collaborative sprits prevail. We present a selection of work by a new breed of fashion illustrators, an exciting collaboration between WERK and Eley Kishimoto and an insight into the ultimate maverick fashion house Maison Martin Margiela. So kick off your wedges, light up a Sobraine cocktail ciggie and enjoy...
Fashion Forward What do contemporary fashion illustrators get up to when they’re not feverishly sketching at catwalk shows? We wanted to discover the new playgrounds where fashion and illustration meet, so we quizzed five experts who nominated the illustrators that excite them most today (and we couldn’t resist adding a nomination of our own). We share the results over the following pages…
“He makes scathing (and loving) illustrated comments about fashion, art and life in New York... He had a show at Colette in Paris earlier this year, and recently did a project for Nowness (a new site by the Louis Vuitton group, edited by Jefferson Hack). They commissioned Darcel to cover the Louis Vuitton store opening in London.”
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Rilla Alexander nominates — Darcel Disappoints
Becky Smith nominates — Kate Merry
Grafik nominates — Harald Donoghue
“First and foremost she’s funny – real humour. Her art is relevant and full of cultural references. It’s a satirical commentary of our social times.”
“Harald’s work is a stunning example of how far fantastic draughtsmanship can take you. Whether he’s scouring magazine editorials for inspiration or spying on models at fashion week, his confident yet delicate pencil work brings the subjects to life, imbuing them with both energy and personality.”
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www.bexglover.com www.jennyrobins.co.uk www.gemmamilly.com
“Bex Glover uses a combination of line and colour washes to create strong, fun imagery that reflects the ethos of individual fashion designers well. Jenny Robins does really imaginative and colourful images of people and has a great sense of humour. Gemma Milly takes a wonderfully delicate approach to fashion illustration that is both engaging and elegant. Lesley Barnes does amazing typography and geometric designs.”
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Amelia Gregory nominates — Bex Glover — Jenny Robins — Gemma Milly — Lesley Barnes
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Mark Eley nominates — Debbie Jameson e bi eb D
“Classic pen and ink illustration with personality imbued in the use of line, clarity of colour and composition. Her work is graphically strong, lending itself to the clarity of how we produced work in the past. There is an androgyny that appeals and a cleanliness that relates.”
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— Janki Patel “These are stills from an animation that tells a particular story of the Eley Kishimoto pink ‘flash’ in a feminine way, using materials and techniques that are naïve and have a look of creative frivolity. I like the matt of the pink the painterly block-printed effect and the low-tech approach for perhaps a hightech performance.”
— Viet Tran “These are all life drawings and I have watched them develop… It’s a joy to see someone’s ability to be free and draw from life and have a personal style that is aesthetically rewarding in execution and with sympathy with the subject.” www.viet-tran.blogspot.com
— Johanna Pikver “Johanna has the desire to pencil sketch small cute furry animals… we all like cute furry animals. This is a winner in the studio and at home at the moment.”
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Eley Kishimoto has been working with a number of young illustrators to uncover new ways that illustration can interact with its creative processes. Mark Eley’s nominations for this article come from this project. “I am trying to understand the process of the illustrative creative practice and how we can be open to alternative approaches to extend our work and creatively collaborate,” he says. “I have worked closely with several illustrators, each with a unique and independent identity, and tailored briefs to embrace their best qualities and request that they produce work with Eley Kishimoto in mind.”
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Progressive House The elusive Mr Margiela never speaks to the press but JASoN JULES got the next best thing when he interviewed Kaat Debo, curator of the exhibition about Maison Martin Margiela now on show in London. Twenty years after Margiela’s first collection, we discover the key to his DIy attitude and how he rocked the fashion system. Sometimes things become glaringly obvious by virtue of their absence; they acquire an importance all of their own simply because they’re not where you think they should be. Absence has played a key factor in our enduring fascination with Martin Margiela. For over twenty years the ‘elusive one’ has held our interest and curiosity not only by creating groundbreaking collections but also by being habitually unavailable for comment. Everyone knows he doesn’t do interviews, everyone knows he’s maintained a healthy distance between himself and photographers and has instructed his team (the Maison) to use the ‘we’ word, not the ‘me’ word in all public statements. In fact, since his first catwalk collection back in 1988, what he doesn’t do has often threatened to overshadow our knowledge of what he actually does do. Margiela’s almost wordless departure from his eponymous fashion house after his SS09 twentieth anniversary show caused a stir in fashion circles but it has been (almost) business as usual at the Maison, and barely a peep from Margiela. Maybe that’s why Somerset house’s current exhibition about Maison Martin Margiela, curated by Kaat Debo, director of the Fashion Museum Antwerp, and designed by Bob verhelst (on its third outing in almost as many years and as many cities), is so significant; it’ll give us all a chance to see first hand, with no strings, no price tags and no rumour-fed misinformation, what really makes Maison Martin Margiela’s work so important. And, more interestingly — since we can’t ask him directly — maybe this exhibition will afford us new insights into what makes MM himself tick.
The great thing about this show is that it also gives the fashion agnostics among us the chance to ask the difficult questions; the weird curveball questions that only the non-believer would have the courage (or lack of respect) to ponder. There is, of course, no doubt that people love Margiela’s clothes; there are those who will see this show as a kind of pop-up shrine. Whereas most successful fashion designers have their fans — the loyal followers who adore and ‘must have’ something from each collection — MMM aficionados seem to have a deeper affection and a more profound appreciation of the master’s work. As Debo explains, “That was really the big challenge, because they [Maison Martin Margiela] have such a loyal following — diehard fans. I wanted it to be something that was exciting for them but I also wanted to make an exhibition that was understandable for someone who has never heard of the Maison.” What you get as you walk through the exhibition is a gradual unfolding of the Maison’s ideas and themes brought to life in a way that is reminiscent of a fantastical zoological exhibition. Trompe l’oeil, replicas, tabi shoes, oversize coats, trench coats, pieces from different seasons from the past two decades are all collected together as different species of the same genus. “It’s not like your traditional retrospective where you show collection by collection,” says Debo. “It’s more about the clothes themselves and the themes of the house, which they have been reworking over and over for the past twenty years.”
This page — Wig jacket by Marina Faust for Maison Martin Margiela Opposite page — Trompe l’oeil door by Julien Oppenheim for Maison Martin Margiela
Margiela commented to Debo about his work: “It’s just clothes—just garments and clothes,” and you get the feeling that this simple statement is a real insight into the approach of the Maison to its craft. The fundamentals of how we dress ourselves are the over-arching theme. “Just clothes” they may be, but there’s no denying that through Margiela’s work we have been offered a thoughtful response to garments as simple and ubiquitous as the white shirt. Partly this is fuelled by the Maison’s collection of old, found items of clothing, which are recycled into couture pieces. “They really uses their archive as a working tool,” Debo says of the Maison. “It’s very different to how we keep our archive at the museum—our archive we try to keep for eternity—Maison Margiela uses theirs in a totally different way. They take out garments, take them apart for the patterns and then rework them: it’s really a living archive.” Through this process the spirit of a garment is revitalised by the attention it is given, first by the atelier and, second, by the wearer. When it comes to fashion, this idea is, of course, entirely counter to today’s received logic; in fact, it resonates more with ideas in architecture and typography. It is this approach that also informs the Maison’s choice of space. From workshop to store, each space has a history prior to the Maison’s arrival and, whatever it might be, the history of the building and its occupants is intentionally restored and reimagined by the Maison’s own occupation. “Each store is very individual,” says Debo. “It’s not like one store is reproduced in Milan, in Tokyo, in London: each store is a new concept. It’s much more than just painting the walls white.” And so, not surprisingly, what becomes evident when walking through this re-visioned space in Somerset house, with its assemblage of species, is that you’re not only witnessing an arsenal of ideas made physical through clothes, shoes, invitations, and video, but also watching the dismantling of a much larger system—the fashion system itself.
Installation for 20: The Exhibition in Antwerp by Joerg Koopman
Debo agrees: “I think, yes, part of what MMM [Maison Martin Margiela] does exposes the fashion system, like its extreme focus on things like innovation, constantly coming up with the newest of the new every season. After ten seasons Margela said: ‘I’m a little bit fed up with the rhythm, I don’t want to design a single new garment.’ So his team went through the previous ten seasons and selected the strongest items and reproduced them in different shades of grey and they sold it as a full collection. They presented it on mannequins that had the season stamped on the necks— beautiful graphics—and it sold as a full collection. They were the first to do it. Maybe it wasn’t a master plan, maybe it was a bit naïve given the commercial context, but they dared to do that—and it worked.” Deconstruction, deconstruction, deconstruction. The word is so readily used to describe the work of the Maison that its meaning is often lost. Some would have us believe that the roots of the Maison and the word lie solely in the work of Japanese designer yoji yamamoto, but that would be to ignore the references to Situationism, to Brecht’s Theatre of Alienation and, of course, the Absurd, all of which are so evident in its work. But that doesn’t mean the clothes become unwearable— function is essential here; something in itself subversive in today’s art/fashion interface. “The nice thing for me about the Maison is that the concept never overpowers the design,” says Debo. “There’s a great balance between the well-made garment and the concept. Nowadays you see a lot of designers coming up with these peculiar conceptual fashion shows and what I see in the shop is not what I saw on the catwalk—so they can’t distill the essential translation from a commercial collection into consumer reality. What you see on the catwalk with the Maison is what you see in stores.” Demonstrating the realism of Margiela’s garments has become a feature of the exhibition. “For each venue we look for a new customer with a big Margiela wardrobe,” says Debo, “and you see how people can wear quite extreme garments and how they wear it on a daily basis through a lifesize video projection.”
“For each venue we find customer with a big Margiela wardrobe, and you see how people can wear quite extreme garments on a daily basis through a lifesize video projection.”
“In each collection you’ll find the classic, iconic items of Western fashion like the white blouse, the jean, tuxedo jacket. Before you deconstruct the garment you need to know how it’s constructed and a lot of students of design forget that.”
Given the Maison’s high standards and creative rigour, to these guys ‘deconstruction’ is an ongoing process, a means of dialogue—a playful but incisive interruption—throwing awkward curveball questions into an otherwise very superficial conversation. Despite what the fashion media might like to tell us, these questions are relevant not just to the fashionindustry insider and they don’t refer just to Margiela’s world alone. No way: it’s actually as if they’re voicing doubts and asking questions that only true outsiders might voice, a kind of conspiratorial double-take that brings us and our experiences inside the otherwise exclusive world of fashion design. The perennial body-image issues that the fashion industry literally embodies are an area that Debo identifies as a target of Margiela’s. “There are different aesthetics, different body images and each designer presents a different body image. It [fashion] is about bodies and how they fit into a garment and I think Margiela often questions the standardised or the ‘ideal’ body through his oversized collections, and with his reproduction of dolls, for example. Like the AIDS T-shirt the Maison makes: it works with this idea that people can’t read the text when you wear it—so the idea is that you start a communication about AIDS and hIv where one person asks another: ‘hey, what you wearing, what’s the text?’ And you have to explain: ‘Well, it actually says...’ It’s a funny, nice idea about a very serious subject and a way of creating conversation around it in real situations,” Debo explains. In the same way that a garment as simple as a T-shirt becomes a message to be deciphered as well as a thing to wear, every aspect of Margiela’s designs involves some willingness to participate on the behalf of the wearer. This Margielaness—an inveigling, somewhat demanding attitude to the exchange between the Maison and its consumers— appears in every part of its output. Debo also sought to replicate it in the show. “There’s a reason why I asked Bob [verhelst] to design the show,” she says. “Bob worked for eight years with Martin and a lot of concepts he created together with the Maison—so he actually breathes the atmosphere of the Maison. you can actually see it in his own work—some of the traces of this way of working. It has a lot to do with the Do-It-yourself strategy which the Maison began doing twenty years ago: one of the reasons was because it just didn’t have any budget.” That DIy approach has been integral to the formation of the MMM brand, or ‘anti-brand’ as it has been called. “To work in that [DIy] way,” says Debo, “creates enormous freedom. For example, one of the Maison’s earliest invitations
is just a letter written on an olivetti typewriter signed by all members of the Maison. And then they had these ads that were published in a free magazine in Paris—it was probably super-cheap to have these little ads announcing their show. [After they were published] they just picked up five hundred of these magazines announcing their show, ripped out the page and marked the ad with a red marker and sent those as invitations—a great concept and it’s totally DIy in nature.” DIy as an act of rebellion, of insurgence, gained real currency through punk—in fact, it’s one of the movement’s most potent legacies. It’s difficult to imagine that, aged twenty in 1977 (a year younger than John Lydon), Margiela was unaffected by this concept and its liberating approach to creativity. From the recycling of pieces, the appropriately named Destroy process, the artificiality of trompe l’oeil, the street casting and the use of unconventional locations, DIy runs through the veins of the Maison in a way which few of its aficionados may care to mention, but becomes more than evident through this truly insightful exhibition. Perhaps what you see happening in the work of Maison Martin Margiela is a perpetual push and pull, a kind of love/ hate relationship that is at once trying to prize something as well as dispel it. After all, the Maison is a hub of creativity and craftsmanship. “you have these very concept garments,” says Debo, “but in each collection you’ll also find the perfect trench coat—the classic, iconic items of Western fashion like the white blouse, like the jean, tuxedo jacket. Before you deconstruct the garment you need to know how it’s constructed and a lot of students of design forget that. And Margiela is a great tailor. I think he also proved it in his work for hermès—for me that was about pure luxury. That was not about decoration, it was about stripping down to the essence.” In some ways Martin Margiela is like the little boy standing on his father’s shoulders above the throng announcing that the emperor has no clothes and then disappearing back into the crowd. Sure, he plays with notions of anonymity and has acquired a kind of public profile by proxy, but one can’t help but feel from this exhibition that one reason he has absented himself from a world he (sometimes) obviously loves is because there’s a part of him that simply doesn’t like it. And that is undoubtedly a good thing. The exhibition is at Somerset House until 5 September 2010. www.somersethouse.org.uk
01 — Elastic jacket by Marina Faust for Maison Martin Margiela 02 — Défilé collection AW10 by Giovanni Giannoni 03 — Installation for 20: The Exhibition in Antwep by Ronald Stoops 04 — Tabi shoes by Tatsuya Kitayama for Maison Martin Margiela 05 — Installation for 20: The Exhibition in Antwerp by Joerg Koopman
All images courtesy of Maison Martin Margiela www.maisonmartinmargiela.com Special Report
Werk It The latest issue of WERK (No. 17) is a beautifully crafted homage to British fashion twosome Eley Kishimoto. To mark this amazing collaboration, MARK ELEy and ThESEUS ChAN—founder and editor of WERK—interviewed each other exclusively for Grafik. MARK ELEY — From your personal perspective, what was it about us that made you dedicate issue 17 of WERK magazine to Eley Kishimoto? THESEUS CHAN — Collaborations with artists and designers are often chance meetings. They come in the form of encounters and introductions. EK is no different. We met in Singapore through Alison Harley (WERK No. 16) and that’s how I got to know you. This way of working means that every issue is significant in that it documents our journey with regard to our publication. ME — Eley Kishimoto holds WERK in very high esteem; both the integrity of the product and yourself. Can you let me know if you have a motif/plan/manifesto in creating and building upon this reputation? TC — Thank you, Mark. Those are really kind words and I am uplifted. Letting the work speak for itself is paramount for me and this also involves working in a manner that is true in intention, creatively pure and ethical. There is a constant reminder to myself to be bold in creation and listen to my inner voice. ME — What areas of work and practice other than the WERK publication and the organisation of the Comme des Garçons Guerrilla Store in Singapore are you involved in? TC — The Guerrilla Store is already closed. We have very good clients that I work with – Club 21, on Pedder in hong Kong, Tangs. I am very much occupied with them in their projects. ME — What does Singapore mean to you, and how does this affect your work? TC — Singapore is where I was born and it provides an excellent setting for family and education. But you need to know how to work within this system to get the best of what it can offer. There are many supports and grants from the government for design and the arts. But inspiration is not included. At this moment, Singaporeans are still not as design/ artistically competent compared to other established areas of infrastructure like governance, commerce, science, technology and business. often I see myself reacting to this system and my work often is a result of that. ME — What do you have in the pipeline, and what are your dreams for the future? TC — The next issue of WERK (No. 18) is dedicated to Keiichi Tanaami, the Japanese psychedelic visual master. We have with us his box of treasures – the original drawings, sketches and study of his work through the years. The artist’s holy grail. We are trying to do something with it. My dream is to finish my life well in all areas – family, design and music. It is generally not known that I love blues music. I hope to dedicate more time in the future to playing and learning that sort of music, especially country/delta blues. ME — If we could arrange a dinner date together, what situation would be your ideal, and what would be on the menu? TC — Maybe in some juke joint in hazlehurst, Mississippi Delta. We will serve up fried chicken, catfish and shrimp with a side helping of you on da harp and me on da guitar.
THESEUS CHAN — Are we alone in this universe? MARK ELEY — Yes, I think so. We bump into each other every so often; to try and understand what it’s all about, but not to much effect. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. TC — What is/are your nest egg/s in life? ME — My children’s well being. TC — In the process of working with Wakako [Kishimoto], how do you resolve differences? ME — Wakako normally wins, but in general she is always right, and I’m happy to deal with that. TC — What is your motivation with all these school and university engagements and projects you are involved in? What do you hope to achieve? ME — I live within a world that’s getting smaller. I find it interesting to be aware of the global creative education system and the creative output of these schools. I am always on the search for inspiration and motivation, and I think I might possibly find it there. I believe that fresh creative minds’ interpretation of society, through creative media, may help me better understand myself and the world in which we live. TC — With all the accolades and recognition that you and Eley Kishimoto have achieved so far, comparatively how much do you think you have actually progressed? ME — I am not really sure. We have built an archive and made many friends over eighteen years. It does feel like we have come a long way, but I think we are just a component of a particular moment in history. I do not know how progressive that really is. TC — If you had one question for Mr Levi Strauss (yes, the man himself), what would it be? ME — I bet you were glad to have met Jacob Davis?
Four covers of WERK No. 17: Eley Kishimoto, showing unique fabric bindings—each of the 1000 editions has original fabric samples for its cover
72 Logoform Public Image Limited by Wayne Daly — 74 Letterform Lowercase ‘r’s by MARIAN BANTJES — 76 Mag Watch Little Joe by Michael BojkowskI — 78 Bookshelf Essentials Coming of Age by HUGO — 80 Viewpoint Who is your fashion alter ego?
Public Image Limited Designed by Dennis Morris & John Lydon by Wayne Daly
Formed by John Lydon in 1978, mere months after his acrimonious split from the Sex Pistols, Public Image Limited was a very different prospect from the Pistols’ immediate surge of punk noise. With Lydon denouncing his former band as old-fashioned, rehashed rock-and-roll, PiL established itself almost immediately as one of the foremost acts to emerge in the post-punk landscape, incorporating influences as diverse as Krautrock, disco, African tribal music, dub reggae and ambient synth, to name just some. Self-consciously pitching itself as a pseudocorporation and multi-faceted communications company, PiL set out to demystify and subvert rock music industry tropes, and in doing so attempted (ultimately unsuccessfully) to operate as a managerfree, democratic unit, emphasising the role of not just the four band members, but also producers, engineers, video directors and numerous other associates. One of these PiL Corp members was Dennis Morris, a well-known music photographer and close friend of Lydon’s from his Pistols days. Morris’s activities in PiL rapidly extended beyond band photographer, and he became responsible for the band’s visual identity. Nowhere was this role more successfully realised than with Metal Box, the band’s much-lauded second album, released in 1979.
Innovatively packaged in a 12-inch film reel canister, the album saw the introduction of the company logo, designed by Morris in collaboration with Lydon. Ceremoniously stamped on the front of the off-the-shelf matt-grey canisters (at great cost to PiL’s label, Virgin, and to the band itself), the logo debuted as a stark, uncompromising statement of intent. The band name as acronym also affirmed PiL’s then-defiance about doing the rock star thing, which Lydon derisively considered a “condescending attitude of playing for the kids”. Contrarily opaque and detached, this was unabashed branding (albeit tongue half in cheek), troubling to authenticity-obsessed punks and anti-capitalist hippies alike. And while the aspirin motif might, at face value, seem like a poor pun it perfectly articulated what was on offer, proposing the restorative properites of the band’s work, a cure to the perceived redundancy and burn-out routine of punk: PiL as remedy.
Above — Unofficial variants of PiL logo Previous page — Gig poster, Maryland, USA, 1982
Lowercase ‘r’s by MARIAN BANTJES
I detest lowercase ‘r’. It’s not the only letterform I’ve struggled with, but it is the one which gives me the most grief. It is unbalanced and awkward, and most of the time it looks incomplete. In a sans, it often looks as though an ‘n’ has been cut in half. The ‘ear’ of the ‘r’ looks more like a tongue… a flaccid, useless tongue, hanging off one side of the letter. Type designers obviously also struggle with this awkward form. They sometimes tuck the tongue in as close to the body as they can; they add shapes to the tongue—to no avail—a lacrimal terminal in fact makes it worse. Perhaps extending the serifs to the extreme can help keep it from falling over. In the italics, they have more luck: slicing it from the top opens it up like a ‘y’ and creates a little more balance. There are rare occasions when the designer succeeds in not only redeeming the ‘r’ but making it a thing of beauty: Jonathan Hoefler’s Acropolis Italic is one, where he has abstracted the ‘r’ to such an extent that it becomes a wholly new form; Doyald Young’s Home Run Script is another, where he has taken the style of a script ‘r’ (as in Kunstler) and boldly severed it from the stem. Astounding! And what a result! It was Young, actually, who taught me how to make a script ‘r’. You take the weight off the stem on the left, and put it instead on the stroke coming down from the tongue. In this way the tongue disappears into a loadbearing stroke, the ‘r’ grows a proper ear at top left, and balance and propriety are restored. I am still trying to work this concept back into a roman letterform, but until then, I detested the lowercase ‘r’. ‘r’s from top left to bottom right — Univers, Gill Sans, Sansa, Auto 2 ITC New Baskerville, ITC Bodoni, Archer, Absara ITC New Baskerville Italic, ITC Bodoni Italic, Archer Italic, Absara Italic Acropolis Black Italic, Kunstler Script, Home Run Script, hand-drawn
Little Joe and the Newsprint Avalanche by MIChAEL BoJKoWSKI View
Since reviewing a handful of Newspaper Club and newsprint projects way back in Grafik 177 there has been an avalanche of similar projects flapping about the UK. The general quality of both the design and the content has been very impressive. From the premier issue of Unit Edition’s U:D/R series, to proper indie titles such as Eight:48, to blog spinoffs such as Jeremy Leslie’s Magculture Paper— newsprint continues in rude health. Returning to London after a year away, I was swamped by newsprint publications—I was carting back armfuls of the things every time I left the house. A rather tatty stack of ‘em started building up in the living room and then proceeded to age rather disgracefully before my very eyes. hence the key problem with this current oversaturation of newsprint—it simply doesn’t last. Newspapers were never meant to be collectable. They are a cheap and easy way to get information out and once that info is consumed their lifespan comes to an end. Sam Ashby’s radical lo-fi queer film culture magazine Little Joe, however, may offer an attractive alternative for independent publishers. In seeking a low-budget method of print production with a unique personality he settled on Risography for the premier issue of Little Joe. Renewed interest in Risograph printing has been steadily growing over the past few years, from Stuart Geddes’s A Small Press to hugh Frost’s Landfill project. This is the first time I’ve noticed an entire publication produced using these screenprint / photocopier hybrids.
The effect is pretty special. The majority of Little Joe is in two colours with splashes of fullcolour imagery sprinkled throughout (with the added vibrancy of a fluorescent pink thrown into the mix). Text appears a little rough around the edges, which suits the pulpy tone of the typography used. headings are nabbed directly from, or allude to, crudely printed original cinema schedules from a time pre-internet. The coarse screen work evident in Little Joe’s imagery plays up to the Risograph’s lo-fi look and feel as well has cleverly disguising any pics of a highly dubious resolution (such as screen shots of impossibly obscure films and JPEGs purloined from ‘naked celebrities’ sites) that were necessary to add the unique brand of ‘lurid spice’ the mag holds dear. overall, this is a promising debut for an indie title that has a well-defined stance (helped in large part by Mr Ashby’s recent career in film poster design) and plies the editorial designer’s tools of the trade (such as paper stock and print production techniques) to seamlessly integrate design with content. But I guess that’s what you get when designers work as editors. www.littlejoemagazine.com www.iamsamashby.com
Coming of Age Photographs by Will McBride Published by Aperture Originally £28 by hUGo View
Trying times, these. In terms of ‘really living’ or ‘just surviving’, survival mode seems to be taking the lead for many of us. Fast-forward and most of us will have to work much harder, and probably under increasingly difficult and trying circumstances, more and more often in the future. And for much longer, too. So, what to do? I would say, of course, work harder. But just working ‘in extremis’ for too long might destroy you or your life, so you need some other kit for success in the life battle ahead. you should definitely buck up your mental and physical strengths in whatever ways work for you… some form of Spartan Buddha, at least for me. Most importantly, perhaps, you need to live well. I can’t offer much guidance today on the ‘work harder’ ethic or your general well-being regime, but in the other saving grace we have an inspiring guide in the form of a magical photography book—Coming of Age by Will McBride. Will McBride built a photographic career chronicling youth and young adulthood. he explored the wonders and joys, traumas and uncertainties of that age. The magic of youth is the reason we are looking at this book this month. For it is in retaining or recapturing some of that raw and vital energy, some of that wide-eyed openness and optimism, that we find the magic in our own age and life. Just as in design we often speak of looking for something ‘fresh’, an even greater challenge is to find and keep ‘fresh’ in ourselves. Transitions and changes in our work or life do not necessarily date us or our work, but the fact that often they do can be a result of us failing to physically and spiritually re-tool as we go along—the sense of freedom or the feelings of pure joy we once felt in living and working get lost along the way. or maybe not lost, but thrown away. We throw away much of what we had as clear bright new stars in life by situations of choice getting the better of us, taking on too much, perhaps too early, staying with the wrong people in the wrong place for too long, and so on and so forth, down the long list of all the possible downers in life. Compromises, sometimes the cure but often the poison, lead us from life to half-lives.
My life has ups and downs, and sometimes extreme ups and downs. When the downs are in the lead and I feel in a half-life, and my usual bag of tricks for living well and staying happy is not to hand, I take a look at this book. I always open up to these two pictures (opposite page). They work best as a pair, and like all good couples, they explain one another. They also explain something to me. The one on the left reminds me of how I want to feel. The one on the right reminds me of how I want to live. I consider the one on the left to be one of the finest nude photographs ever taken. The one on the right one of the better pictures of how to live. They have worked magic on me from the moment I first saw them, and they continue to do so today. Whenever I look at these pictures I’m reminded of the vast possibilities in life to be open, at ease, free, sexy and together. And I’m also reminded that most of the best things in life are inexpensive and simple. Being with the right person on a beautiful summer’s day doesn’t cost a sou and is difficult to better by any standard—but only if you’re tooled to see things that way. obviously, these days I don’t have the whole summer off. And it is a struggle to forget what commitments I have, even on days when I should. But I consider my work and commitments appropriate to my life now, and my joys and paths of happiness are relative to my age. My ‘re-tooling’ has changed over the years. Some of the perennial ways remain, and some things that were nascent or under-observed in the past are now primary. New ways of living and thinking are balanced by an exodus of ways that no longer work. Crucially, nowadays I rely on friends and family, good food and wine, music, work and projects of personal value, a bit of physical this and that, and time away that really inspires. And good books. have a look at Coming of Age and you’ll see what I mean. Aside from my inspiring couple, the book is filled with work of transcendent beauty and heartfelt pathos, and there is one set of pictures from a 1960s performance piece (below) that has more relevance today than could ever have been imagined when it was created. But whatever you do, find a book that works some kind of magic on you. you’ll need it on those days when the other tools are not to hand and survival mode has kicked in and the downer people are at the door. Find and develop the tools you’ll need to fight for the life you should live. you only have one life. Look at your life as a gift, something of the greatest value… perpetually acting on this as well as believing it is the ‘re-tooling’. Find ways of staying happy and healthy, and enjoying your life and your work. Chances are, you’ll live a long time. And chances are, you’ll be working a long time too. So tool up, get on the road and take off…
Who is your fashion alter ego? EvA KELLENBERGER
My alter ego would be Mowgli from The Jungle Book—raised by wolves in downtown Zürich, spending my time in the forests surrounded by nature (and some tasteful urban architecture). I do look a bit like Mowgli, although I don’t dress in just orangey-red underpants. So maybe my fashion alter ego is more a girl scout in the 80s who has been let loose in a charity shop that happens to have some APC and Isabel Marant clothes in it—still with an urge to look natural and wear camouflage in nature to keep away the terrible Shere Khan and Kaa the snake, an ever-present threat in Portobello Road. www.kellenberger-white.com
My fashion alter ego has only appeared in public once, back in ’97. he was whisked over to Paris along with other designers from Me Company, Tomato and visionaire to model Comme des Garçons’ S/S 98 menswear collection. Wearing beautifully cut suits, knitwear and not so beautiful yellow and red slippers, he walked out in front of buyers, fashionistas, celebrities and press. A few hours later, back in the real world, I was thinking when my alter ego would be unleashed again. he’s not been back since. These days it’s more Clarkson than Kawakubo. email@example.com
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (JD/DC) also known as “the king of the cartoon”, produces ‘pop’-inspired design influenced by art, music, comic strips, cartoons and contemporary figures. he is maybe not quite an alter ego but I like his work very much. I first saw his giant American Express credit card dress on Conduit Street around a year ago; bold, fresh and with humour, his work really made me smile. he is currently working on a stained-glass creation for Ms Gaga and has a series of windows at Selfridges titled Encounter of the 5th Kind. JD/DC has said that he feels like an alien on the fashion scene. I think it is healthy to feel outside or on the periphery. I have always felt like that with the design world. www.susannaedwards.com
I like to think I dress well, but I don’t collect, follow or wear any particular label or designer’s collections—I don’t really have a defining look. My father was a well-turned-out English gentleman, with an admirable collection of Savile Row suits. I would happily follow in his footsteps, but I have always felt that as a creative part of the trust that I gain from our clients would be eroded if I were to be one of the suits in a meeting—unless I added spats and an ivory cane. So I would like to think that my alter ego would be someone understated but refined (I’m being generous)—perhaps Agnès B or John Smedley.
The joy of creating fashion is under threat from the pressures of profit-making. Marketing meetings, dissection of brand identity, streamlining production, reducing costs at all cost… in this seasonal churn, is there still time for a passion to design great clothes? With customers enticed into believing ‘brand’ is the primary determiner of quality, awareness of brand becomes the overriding target of hungry fashion houses. In abandoning traditional measures of quality—material, cut and craft—we lose respect for these people’s skills. They and these will be forgotten. What’s left when ‘industry’ replaces poetry? Do we all become servants of the machine? www.designersblock.org.uk
84 Exhibition Magnificent Maps reviewed by Max Leonard — 88 Six Books The latest design books under fire — 90 Exhibition Exposure reviewed by Kerry William Purcel 92 — Book Puffin by Design reviewed by Richard Hogg 96 — Festival Graphic Design Festival Breda 2010 reviewed by Robert Urquhart
Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art, British Library
“I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe,” wrote Robert Louis Until 19 September 2010 Stephenson, recalling the moment Reviewed by MAx LEoNARD he began to conjure his most famous story. “As I pored upon my map of Treasure Island,” he continues, “the future characters of the book began to appear there visibly among imaginary woods; and their brown faces and bright weapons peeked out upon me from unexpected quarters, as they passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure, on these few square inches of flat projection.”
Konrad Faber’s bird’s-eye view of the siege of Frankfurt from 1552, at the British Library’s exhibition of treasures from its cartographic collection, gives just this impression. It is teeming with life: horses gallop, soldiers charge and cannons blaze, their shot suspended in mid-air; townsfolk frozen in place, unaware, as they go about their business within the city’s fortified walls. At the other extreme, a map of London produced after the Great Fire of 1666 deliberately effaces all signs of humanity, sanitising the city and suppressing the numerous workhouses, jails and open sewers from the idealised plan of ordered reconstruction. Just two examples on display of how different mapmakers have chosen to represent and schematise the world.
Opposite page — Map of Nowhere, by Grayson Perry, 152 x 113cm, etching, 2008 This page — Comic Map of the Political Situation in 1880, by Fred W. Rose, 64 x 51cm, lithograph, 1880
Seeing so many maps side by side, the earliest made in 2000 BC, brings these embedded assumptions and prejudices into sharp relief. ‘Projection’ is the right word: even the least fanciful, most scientific map involves a leap of imagination and a falsification of perspective, an effort to rise above the individual perspective to a more god-like — or at least bird’s-eye — view. Maps are rarely simply ‘about’ geography. one of the earliest on display, a facsimile of hereford’s medieval mappa mundi, is a sort of graphic encyclopaedia of all creation, including all kinds of information we wouldn’t now think proper to put on a map. oriented with the east uppermost, it features the Garden of Eden and is, even when tilting your head 90 degrees, scarcely recognisable. yet if it does get its coastlines wrong, it’s not the makers’ craft that’s at fault: it is mapping gaps in the contemporary knowledge of the earth. To look at the hereford map is to stare at the murky limits of the world, limits illuminated by a dark, visionary imagination. Fantastic creatures — sea monsters, centaurs and weird humanoids using their single giant foot as a sunshade — inhabit the peripheries; hieronymus Bosch suddenly seems less of a fantasist. It maps the medieval psyche, a process echoed and honoured by Grayson Perry in his Map of Nowhere (2008), also on display. After the Renaissance, and as European colonialism spread across the globe, the maps become more recognisable, and more concerned with controlling and partitioning the world than illustrating its chaos. For the seafaring Dutch, who emerged as the period’s finest cartographers, maps of overseas holdings were a way of visualising value. Most merchants and aristocrats never made the treacherous journey to see their lands, so maps were proof that the goose laying the golden eggs really existed, empirical evidence of the provenance of their empire’s goods and wealth. A sense of ownership and entitlement is palpable. ‘This is my playground’ is the implicit message of a beautifully drawn plan of King George III’s hunting grounds in Germany, and it’s easy to draw the same conclusion about the huge world maps that hung in European palaces: they are the site of a giant game of Risk played out in real time and space for the nobility’s entertainment.
Unsurprisingly, there was a certain amount of willy-waving inherent in producing a map or atlas. My colony is bigger than yours, my ships are faster, and my craftsmen more skilled. The atlases in particular are sumptuously bound and embellished with gold leaf, evidence of the wealth and the might of those that commissioned them. As such, the exhibition holds some salutary lessons about favour and patronage—in modern parlance, how to win business and keep clients onside. Are you dealing with a monstrous ego and an impossible brief? Then why not portray your client as the god Neptune, and place him astride a sea serpent coursing through the southern ocean? It kept King Philip II of Spain happy and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t work today. While the Dutch maps show capitalism’s conquest of the earth, the fascinating political propagandist maps from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries dramatise its ideological wars with Communism and, later, Nazism. In one, the tsarist Russian octopus is crushing Bulgaria, Finland and Turkey in its grasp, while hungary, depicted as a volatile Magyar warrior, is restrained from attacking and Italy—a young maiden—looks on in horror. In another, a French collaborationist poster from World War II, a psychotic, cigar-chomping Churchill (again an octopus) seizes hold of Africa. These later maps employ the advantages of mass mechanical reproduction explicitly to sway mass opinion and, throughout the exhibition, the command of materials and processes—vellum, silk, tapestry; illustration, woodcut, lithography—is incredible, the painstaking care well balanced against both the commercial and creative imperatives of the work. The imagination poured into each and every one is striking. Above all, however, these maps pay testament to the human inability to leave a blank space, an inability that can be seen both in the colonial impulse and the cartographer’s craft. If a continent is unknown, then go forth and tame it: fill in the blanks. And if, once that map is drawn, gaps remain, in the deepest oceans or in darkest Peru, then a sea monster, or a cannibal perhaps, might fit just right.
This page — Be on Your Guard, by Dmitri Moor, 103 x 71cm, lithograph, 1921 Tea Revives the World, by MacDonald Gill, 75 x 153cm, lithograph, 1940 Opposite — Confiance – ses amputations se poursuivant, anonymous, 123 x 84cm, lithograph on paper, 1944
Modern British Posters: Art, Design & Communication By Paul Rennie
Paul Rennie clearly knows what he’s on about when it comes to posters. He has Published by a rather impressive Black Dog, £29.95 collection himself, which formed the basis of an exhibition titled Modern British Posters in 2008 at Central Saint Martins. This book, then, is an opportunity for Rennie to expand on the exhibition’s narrative, and delve deeper into his own encyclopaedic knowledge of the medium. It’s rigorously written and pleasingly straightforward, offering an interesting perspective on the role of the poster in the interaction between art, design and society between 1915 and 1970. There’s no shortage of actual posters on display either, but the author’s approach means this is much more interesting than your average pretty poster-design tome. Custom Lettering of the ‘60s and ‘70s Edited by Rian Hughes
Fiell, a relatively new publishing house on the block, has Published by Fiell, made a successful £24.95 dent in the design book scene with this chunky doorstopper collection of fonts. The credentials are good, with Rian Hughes of Device fonts at the helm, steering both the edit and the book’s design. The result is a pure shot of picture-book pleasure, with each page crammed full of hand-drawn lettering (we’re talking pre-computer-aided design here, of course). We’re treated to themed selections of titles, headlines and slogans that conjure up a pulp-fiction, comic-book Pop world of ‘60s and ‘70s print culture. “Gay Girls Need Gay Sandals”, “Oh, Sir Timothy” or “Sinister Cargo”, anyone? Oh yes. Art for All: British Posters for Transport Edited by Teri J. Edelstein
You can exorcise the horrors of late and Published by Yale cancelled trains, University Press, £30.00 leaves on the line and extortionate fares with this fantastic book about a bygone era of rail travel. Even memories of BR’s curling egg and bacon sandwiches will be driven out. Nostalgia is the predominant flavour in this book, with images promoting travel and tourism from a time when real craftsmanship, fantastic colour and composition, and visual wit went into posters. With beautiful reproductions and several thoughtful essays, there is something to please every travel buff, poster aficionado and student of graphic design here. The perfect companion for whiling away a few hours on the rails.
The Story of Graphic Design By Patrick Cramsie
It can be interesting to Published by the British encounter a new Library, £25.00 perspective on the history of graphic design — providing the author in question has got something original to say. This new release from the British Library, however, has a distinct whiff of Philip B. Meggs about it (he of the now-canonical History of Graphic Design). Even the chapter structure is suspiciously familiar, but Cramsie’s story of graphic design ends ten years ago — have designers done nothing of note since the beginning of this century? It’s a pity, as the book does seem well written, but befuddling dense layouts and predictable image choices hold back what might otherwise have been an accessible read. All in all, this seems like a story we’ve all heard before. Art of McSweeney’s By the Editors of McSweeney’s
It’s hard not to get a bit carried away waxing lyrical over Published by Tate, this, to be honest £25.00 — if you’re in any way acquainted with McSweeney’s (Dave Eggers’s self-initiated publishing venture and magazine), then you’ve probably already been seduced by its amalgamation of literature and typographic wit. Either that, or you find it — and Eggers — totally nauseating. For those who sit in the former camp, though, it doesn’t get much better than this. The book is less straightforward than the title suggests; it’s more of a behind-the-scenes look at the principles and processes of McSweeney’s. Of course, it’s beautifully designed and includes many of the little flourishes that Eggers’s venture is famous for alongside unseen illustrations, objects of inspiration, notes, documents, memos, scribbles and a running conversational narrative between the contributors, including Eggers himself. A treat. London Burners By Jete Swami
The latest in a swathe of graffiti books to hit Published by the doormat of Grafik Prestel, £14.99, Towers is Jete Swami’s new book London Burners. The book makes a gritty case for ‘real’ writers, who aren’t in it for the cash, and on paper the book is an appealing prospect — an inside look at a small niche of writers specifically painting tube trains. However, despite being billed by the press release as “breathless” and “enthralling” in reality the book is pedestrian at best, with little to offer other than some rambling accounts of painting ‘missions’, rants about the justice system and endless, badly taken photographs of burners.
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera
There’s a moral blind spot at the heart of photography. It is a blind Tate Modern spot that was manifest in the by KERRy WILLIAM PURCELL outpouring of protestations and demonstrations over the possible criminalisation of street photography in London recently. It is the very real issue of whether it is ever legitimate to take a picture of another person—whether the individual in control of the camera is the state or a lone photographer—without the consent of that person? Why is it oK for an amateur photographer to snap a picture of a bystander, but not oK for the government to do the same? As Susan Sontag famously said, “there is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera”, one which “may presume, intrude, trespass, distort, exploit, and at the farthest reach of metaphor, assassinate — all activities that... can be conducted from a distance, and with some detachment”. It is an unspoken question that permeates the history of photography, but has received very little critical discussion. The wonderful new Tate Modern show Exposed: voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera is the first comprehensive examination of this subject. Spread across twelve rooms, the curator Simon Baker (it was originally conceived by Sandra S. Phillips at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) traces the differing ways in which “the camera has been used to make images surreptitiously and satisfy the desire to see what is hidden”. What first strikes you about Exposed is that the story told mirrors very closely the familiar historical narratives of the medium itself. All the icons are represented: Paul Martin, Robert Frank, henri Cartier-Bresson, harry Callahan, Walker Evans, Weegee etc. It is an elision that reveals how the questions raised by the exhibition are often indivisible from the form itself.
Georges Dudognon, Greta Garbo in the Club St. Germain, Paris ca. 1950s, gelatin silver print, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Members of Foto Forum, © Estate of Georges Dudognon
The exhibition is divided into five sections: The Unseen Photographer, Celebrity and the Public Gaze, voyeurism & Desire, Witnessing violence, and Surveillance. As capturing people unawares was very difficult with the unwieldy nature of early photographic equipment, the opening section focuses on the rare images where photographers were able to photograph while remaining unnoticed. To illustrate this, numerous curios are shown in a cabinet, included a walking cane, shoe and watch all with hidden cameras built into them. however, Exposed really comes into its own with those images we may already be familiar with, but where we have never questioned the circumstances in which they were produced. So, when looking at street shots by CartierBresson or Callahan, we are compelled to consider our position as the spectator of these works. Among these images, the curator has also chosen images where the subject has returned the gaze of the photographer. Looking at these is like being a child and getting caught with your hand in the biscuit barrel — a sense of surprise, shock and guilt coalesce into a single moment. yet, such encounters only acknowledge the moral uncertainties that permeate the documentary tradition as a whole. The ongoing dialogue that operates throughout the show is one that oscillates between the ethics of looking and the transgressive or taboo acts that photographers have documented. Among the latter, one of the most surprising collections of images is that of Japanese photographer Kohei yoshiyuki. In the series The Park (1971), yoshiyuki photographed lovers making out in Chuo Park, Shinjuku. however, the park also attracted groups of men wanting to stalk the young couples. operating unseen (using a 35mm camera and an infrared flash bulb), yoshiyuki captured an assortment of men standing behind bushes, crawling along the floor or spying from behind a tree. The works are displayed in a darkened corridor (in the original show yoshiyuki turned all the gallery lights off and gave the visitors torches), with the images highlighted by soft pools of light. The overall effect is unsettling, but also strangely absorbing. Exposed reveals the unspoken relationships that permeate many of our photographic encounters. It reframes the familiar and compels you to question your culpability as a spectator. It is one of the best exhibitions I have seen for many years. Top to Bottom — Richard Ross, Isolation Room CBP, San Ysidro, CA, 2004, chromogenic print, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Anonymous Fund © Richard Ross Shizuka Yokomizo, Stranger No. 2, 1999, chromogenic print, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund purchase © Shizuka Yokomizo Jonathan Olley, Golf Five Zero watchtower (known to the British Army as ‘Borucki Sanger’), Crossmaglen Security Force Base, South Armagh, 1999, gelatin silver bromide print, coutesy Diemar/Noble Photography, London © J.Olley
A few weeks ago I was in a charity shop and came across a Published by Penguin book called The Little Reviewed by RIChARD hoGG Grey Men by ‘BB’. This was exciting because the cover illustration, flaky hand-lettering, weird colouring and layout were identical to Edward Ardizzone’s cover for Stig of the Dump. The Stig cover is a well-known classic and, like many people, I have loved it for nearly my whole life, but I always assumed that it was a one-off. Its idiosyncratic, unique, almost amateurish design captured my imagination as a small child. Now, over thirty years later I find that there is another one. Are there any more? Well, thanks to Phil Baines, I now know that Ardizzone produced five such covers. They are all fantastic and are all reproduced in this book. Puffin by Design: 70 Years of Imagination 1940–2010 By Phil Baines
Puffin by Design is a kind of sister volume to Phil Baines’s previous book Penguin by Design. It charts the design and artwork of Penguin’s children’s imprint from its beginning during the Second World War to the present day. There is so much good stuff here. The strange, slightly awkward covers that Arthur Ransom designed for his own books were a revelation to me, as was the madcap exuberance of Puffin’s in-house designer Jill McDonald. Everything is beautifully and sensitively reproduced. It feels nearly as good-looking at the original books. In cases where printing was important, you get it—like the autolithography of the war years. They have a coarseness that would never be acceptable now, a scruffy, almost dirty look. Fantastic. Primarily this is a picture book, but I strongly recommend reading the introductory notes to each section. It perhaps doesn’t have the design melodrama of its Penguin counterpart in that it doesn’t have the big stars like Tschichold and Facetti. But you do get a sense of the strong personalities driving Puffin. A continuing theme is the willingness to shake things up and take calculated risks, and the importance of good design. Baines is not uncritical—throughout most of the book there is constant nitpicking. But I found this enjoyable. he has a great eye and the details that he tends to pick up on (a bad crop here, an awkward composition or inappropriate typeface there) are the niggles of a real graphic designer. As you go through the book another strand of criticism is directed towards insensitive attempts to impose a brand or series identity on groups of books (“gift wrapping” as he weirdly calls it). As we move into the 70s and 80s this practice became increasingly dominant and Baines has little positive to say about it. Arthur Ransome series for Puffin, various titles 1968—1971, cover illustrations by Arthur Ransome
This page — Make Your Own Zoo, 1945, illustrated by Trix Printing, 1948, illustrated by Jack Brough Opposite page — Puppets, 1958, illustrated by Tony Hart Noah’s Ark, 1960, illustrated by John Miles
however, in the last chapter, which deals with Puffin’s more recent output, I got a sense that Baines was biting his tongue somewhat. The tone becomes bland and noncommittal, almost as if he is regurgitating a series of press releases. he recounts the growing importance of branding and marketing with little criticism, and gone is his distaste for “gift wrapping”. It’s like he has given up caring, and when you look at the books from the most recent period you can see why. With a few exceptions (notably the work of Tom Sanderson), the covers of recent Puffin books are very disappointing. By this I mean they range from dull to shockingly bad. Many of the recent Puffin covers presented here have a soulless, high-gloss, overproduced feel akin to bad blockbuster movie posters. A couple of them even use hollywood’s favourite cliché typeface, Trajan. Like movie posters, they leave nothing to chance. They are aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator. It is as if a decision has been made that children have no taste and little imagination.
This is a strange position for Puffin to take when you think about what Penguin has been up to lately. If you look at a lot of Penguin covers from the last few years (interestingly, since the publication of Penguin by Design) there is a definite return to the values of the past. This is not without its dangers but Penguin has shown us that you can stand to be a little bit retro without being sentimental or cosy. It is ultra-aware of its design heritage, yet not beholden to it, playing with its history in innovative and unprecious ways. I dunno, perhaps Penguin by Design was the catalyst for all this? Perhaps Puffin by Design will achieve something similar, reminding Puffin what it has and what a massive part good design used to play in its success.
Even where Puffin is still using classic illustrations by the likes of quentin Blake and Tove Jansson, it has managed to make some terrible covers. For example, the recent Puffin Moomin covers. how is it possible to take something so naturally, effortlessly cool and make it so bland? Compare them to the beautiful Moomin reprints from Drawn and quarterly or, in fact, to the original Puffin Moomin books that appear earlier in this book. Flicking back to the early chapters of this book made me feel sad and nostalgic. It’s not just me either. Walk into the children’s section of any bookshop and you will be surrounded by the past. The aforementioned Moomin reprints, the M. Sasek books, Charlie harper and Maurice Sendak. Even a lot of the new stuff looks like it could have been designed in the 1950s. It feels like Puffin is swimming against this tide.
Review Decoding—GDFB 2010: Graphic Design Festival, Breda
This was the second time that this biannual 8—30 May 2010 design festival had Reviewed by RoBERT URqUhART taken place, powered by the enterprising and independent creative director Dennis Elbers. And, for a second outing, the festival had already formed a sophisticated, critical angle of attack that many other festivals and institutions could well do to adopt. Under the theme of Decoding, Elbers wove together a small, but perfectly formed, route of six main venues and several satellite installations that brought together international designers to discuss and exhibit their interpretations of what decoding meant, not just as a data process but also in a physical and symbolic sense. The result was a fascinating snapshot of the analogue/digital environment that we currently inhabit. I’d visited the city last year to write a review of the Graphic Design Museum. I had been disappointed with an institution that seemed to be a rudderless ship laden with all the expectation of winning the European City of Culture award for the region in 2018, but with none of the clear thinking and planning that would take it to that point. The Graphic Design Museum still appears to be in a state of flux and was, surprisingly, not as much of a major player in the festival as one might have expected. But, as it turned out, this was not a problem. The entire festival could be walked in a day and so I set out, first to the festival hub at the house of visual Culture in the centre of town. I was greeted by drawings ‘by’ crickets and woodlice conceived by EDhv, an installation that turns bits to atoms by Jeroen holthuis and a perpetual storytelling apparatus by Julius von Bismarck and Benjamin Maus that uses patent drawings from over 22 million references to weave new visual links between designs. All exciting stuff.
Next, my stroll through the city was interspersed with poster installations on electricity substation advertising hoardings, showcasing the talents of Christopher West, harmen Liemberg and Lesley Moore, among others. At the northern tip of the trail, Electron and KoP arts spaces provided further group shows that highlighted the role of analogue output in a digital world with further poster designs and a paper-folding exhibition, curated by the book publisher Gestalten that jarred only slightly with a craft show that was aesthetically pleasing but the loosest of all interpretations of its theme. A late night spent discussing ethics and design with Dr oliver vodeb led to a late start the next day at the seminar. It was good to see a fairly full house for a performance by Roel Wouters and Laurer Maurer and a heated debate at the hands of Dr vodeb, who caused consternation in the audience with a provocative jab at design aesthetics. he also called for social ethics to be brought forward in the design process as an equal critical measure. Ending on a high with an impassioned plea from Karsten Schmidt not to ignore computer coding as a means of creation, the seminar was an equal partner to a diverse and thoughtprovoking festival. Roll on 2012.
01 — Ongoing, by GDV, GDFB 2010 02 — Papercut, part of Paperjam, GDFB 2010 03, 06 — House For Visual Culture, GDFB 2010 04, 07 — Designer Toys XL, by Lulu & Tummie, illustration by Staynice, GDFB 2010 05 — Poster project on display in Breda, GDFB 2010 08 — Poster project by Job Wouters, GDFB 2010
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