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In his work, Karel Martens embraces both freedom and order. He finds inspiration in the limitations of the profession and turns obstacles into challenges. OASE, a Dutch architectural journal, is an illustration of how designer can maneuver in the narrow field of graphic design production. OASE balances between book and a magazine and each new issue reinvents its forms to surprise its readers.

In his work, Karel Martens embraces both freedom and order. He finds inspiration in the limitations of the profession and turns obstacles into challenges. OASE, a Dutch architectural journal, is an illustration of how designer can maneuver in the narrow field of graphic design production. OASE balances between book and a magazine and each new issue reinvents its forms to surpriseits readers. Karel Martens gave OASE a clear direction and convincingly makes a magazine that is both modest and luxurious, making one believe that a low-budget publication is in fact a precious object to be collected. A grid became a fascinating element for Karel Martens. The most basic element in graphic design is given an active role that reflects the tone of the magazine. Karel

When did you start working on OASE magazine?

The first issue that I did was in 1990. Before it was a magazine of a different format, A4 size. Did you suggested a new size?

Yes. The magazine has quite a theoretical approach, so used this book format. Before was just loose papers, where students would hand their type-written essays. It looked very nice, I liked it, but it was a bit problematic to continue this way, so I decided to change it. And the change was using a book format rather then using a conventional magazine format? There was a lot of text, and not so many images. It was easier to read in a new format.

What is the size of the OASE magazine? It is related to the maximum size of the sheet? Yes, 24×17 cm it is the most economical size for the50×70cm presses in the Netherlands. It is very economical, however, you cannot bleed on all sides. I have to adjust the design to this as well, so we moveall the images up on the sheet. When you started working on OASE did you design a fixed grid for the future issues?

For me the grid is an instrument that allows me to work with books. Very often it is a flexible grid so I am not too constrained, I still have to take decisions about placing text and images. Has the grid changed since the first issue? How was the grid evolving as the magazine was growing up?

Yes, The 6×2 mm grid changed. When the production of OASE changed, and now we are doing it fully in-house, the grid changed. Now it is made completely

on the Macintosh and this offers much more opportunities to play with columns, type and the margins. I spent some time looking at OASE trying to follow the internal structure of the magazine. I had an impression that the grid is changing with every issue, as well as paper and typefaces. But those changes are so subtle that you don’t see them from issue to issue, you need to see a series them to compare the first one and the latest one and only then can one see the changes.

That’s true. As basic typefaces I am trying to stick with Monotype Grotesque and Janson, but there are exceptions. The grid is also changing when the format is changing [an issue on poetry and architecture has a different size]. The grid, and the division of the grid, depends on thecomplexity of the issue. The last two issues are bilingual, so I had to adapt the grid to accom modate more text. We are now doing an issue of OASE [issue 49] and we made the Dutch and the English text equal. This requires a change in grid too. Did you add more pages when OASE became bilingual?

No, and that was the problem. The editor wanted to have the English translation, and asked me to put it in the back of the magazine. However, for me it was a nice opportunity to combine both languages, but they did not offer me more pages. The type was getting smaller and smaller. So there is twice as much text now, but the sameamount of pages? [laughs] ...exactly...

It seems that you turn all the technical constrains and limitations to an advantage, and there is no visible aesthetic compromise in OASE, all the issues work well with all these limitations. Limitations are an important thing in design in general because they offer solutions.


GARAMOND 1490 – 1561

CLAUDE GARAMOND Information about the typeface designer Claude Garamond and his fonts. A native of Paris, Garamond was an engraver and letter founder of high repute. He was regarded as the best ypecutter of his day. He was commissioned by King Francis First of France to make a new cast of type for his own exclusive use, now known as Grecs du Roi.


ooking at the pre-19th-century typefaces that are still in widespread use today is a little like visiting a modern re-creation of an Anglo-Saxon village. If you ignore the aircraft passing overhead you can easily imagine yourself back in the first millennium. But however absorbed the inhabitants seem in their daily tasks, you know that at the end of the day they will take off their coarsely woven garments, slip into some Lycra, and head home, probably picking up a take away and video en route. However convincing it all looks, in reality it’s an elaborate fake. And that’s just how it is in the world of type. You may think you’re working with actual letter forms drawn in the 16th century, but they’re actually a 20thcentury re-creation based on the originals, or what were thought to be the originals. It can get confusing. Plantin was based on a face cut by the French type designer Robert Granjon (working 1545-88); the printer Christopher Plantin himself never used the original source type. Janson, designed in 1937, is named after a Dutchman, Anton Janson, who had nothing to do with the face at all; the design was inspired by the work of the Hungarian Nicholas Kis (1650-1702). The various versions of Baskerville are all 20th-century work; the earliest one was not even based directly on Baskerville’s type, but on what came to be known later as Fry’s Baskerville, a piece of 18th-century intellectual piracy.In 1924 George Jones designed a face for the Linotype company which he called Granjon,but the design he used as inspiration turned out to be the work of Robert Granjon’s fellow countryman and contemporary Claude Garamond (c. 1500-61). And the typefaces that bear Garamond’s name — well, as the saying goes, fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride Garamond had long been regarded as one of the type designers par excellence of the century that followed Gutenberg’s invention of movable type.

In the 19th century the French National Printing Office, looking for a typeface to call its own, took a liking to the one that had been used by the 17thcentury Royal Printing Office, operating under the supervision of Cardinal Richelieu (1). Richelieu called his type the Caractères de l’Université, and used it to print, among other things, his own written works. The 19th-century office pronounced the face to be the work of Claude Garamond, and the Garamond revival began. But it was only after the First World War that the bandwagon really picked up momentum. Suddenly every type foundry started producing its own version of Garamond. American Type Founders (ATF) were first, and then in 1921 Frederic Goudy offered his interpretation, Garamont. Monotype in England brought out theirs in 1924, and Linotype replied with Granjon. There were yet more versions on the market by the onset of the Second World War, most notably Stempel Garamond by the German foundry of that name.Back at ATF, the company that had started the rush, Henry Lewis Bullen (2), librarian of the company’s formidable archive, had nagging doubts about his company’s product. One day, as recalled by his assistant Paul Beaujon, he declared: “You know, this is definitely not a sixteenth century type … I have never found a sixteenth century book which contains this face. Anyone who discovers where this thing comes from will make a great reputation.” (3) Beaujon wrote an article about the Garamond faces for The Fleuron, an English typographical journal. The pages had been proofed and the presses were ready to roll when Beaujon, visiting the North Library of the British Museum to check some dates, happened to glance at one of the items in the Bagford Collection of title pages. And there was the source type for all the 20th-century Garamonds.

Using Aldus Manutius’s roman type as his inspiration, Garamond had cut his first letters for a 1530 edition of Erasmus. It was so well regarded that the French king Francois I commissioned Garamond to design an exclusive face, the Grecs du Roi. Although Garamond’s typefaces were very popular during his lifetime and much copied, as for many of the early type designers the work didn’t bring him much financial reward. When he died, his widow was forced to sell his punches, and his typefaces were scattered throughout Europe.

Except that this typeface wasn’t by Garamond at all. It was the work of another Frenchman, Jean Jannon (1580-1658), a 17th-century printer and punch-cutter. As a printer he was unremarkable, but as a designer and punch-cutter he was unparalleled, cutting the smallest type ever seen, an italic and roman of a size less than what would now be 5pt. Frequently in trouble with the authorities for his Protestant beliefs, Jannon had eventually found work at the Calvinist Academy at Sedan, in northern.

Garamond the typeface gradually dropped out of sight, to disappear for nearly two centuries.

France Cardinal Richelieu’s early years of office under Louis XIII were spent in a power struggle with

the Huguenots, the French Protestants. An effective way of hastening their eventual submission was to remove their means of spreading information, and the government paid the academy a visit. Among the items confiscated in the raid was Jannon’s type. Although Richelieu took exception to Jannon’s religious affiliations, however, he liked his typography so much that his face is the house style for the Royal Printing Office. Following a swift trip to the Mazarine Library in Paris to compare impressions with their Jannon specimen book, Beaujon’s original feature was pulled in favor of a new one revealing the true source of the “Garamond” faces. It was hailed as a masterly piece of research, and the Monotype Corporation of England offered him the job of editing their in-house magazines. But the twist was that Beaujon, like the Garamond typefaces, was not at all what he appeared to be. When he died, his widow was forced to sell his punches, and his typefaces were scattered throughout Europe.

“So many viewers are left untouched by those machine-like visuals out there - a more human approach seemed a smart alternative.�


STEFAN SAGMEISTER To use a word like “legend” in connection with Stefan Sagmeister does not seem too far a stretch. It’s not only that this Austrian designer has received nearly every important international design award, along with a Grammy for his design of the Talking Heads boxed set (and 5 more nominations). Or his diverse range of clients, from Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones to HBO and the Guggenheim Museum.

When Stefan Sagmeister was invited to design the poster for an AIGA lecture he was giving on the campus at Cranbrook near Detroit, he asked his assistant to carvethe details on to his torso with an X-acto knife and photographed the result. Sunning himself on a beach the following summer, Sagmeister noticed traces of the poster text rising in pink as his flesh tanned. Now a graphic icon of the 1990s, that 1999 AIGA Detroit poster typifies Stefan Sagmeister’s style. Striking to the point of sensationalism and humorous but in such an unsettling way that it’s nearly, but not quite unacceptable, his work mixes sexuality with wit and a whiff of the sinister. Sagmeister’s technique is often simple to the point of banality: from slashing D-I-Y text into his own skin for the AIGA Detroit poster, to spelling out words with roughly cut strips of white cloth for a 1999 brochure for his girlfriend, the fashion designer, Anni Kuan. The strength of his work lies in his ability to conceptualise: to come up with potent, original, stunningly appropriate ideas. Born in Bregenz, a quiet town in the Austrian Alps, in 1962, Sagmeister studied engineering after high school, but switched to graphic design after working on illustrations and lay-outs for Alphorn, a left-wing magazine. The first of his D-I-Y graphic exercises was a poster publicising Alphorn’s Anarchy issue for which he persuaded fellow students to lie down in the playground in the shape of the letter A and photographed them from the school roof. At 19, Sagmeister moved to Vienna hoping to study graphics at the city’s prestigious University of Applied Arts. After his first application was rejected – “just about everybody was better at drawing than I was” – he enrolled in a private art school and was accepted on his second attempt. Through his sister’s boyfriend, the rock musician, Alexander Goebel, Sagmeister was introduced to the Schauspielhaus theatre group and designed posters for them as part of the Gruppe Gut collective. Many of the posters parodied traditionally twee theatrical imagery and offset it with roughly printed text in the grungey typefaces of punk albums and 1970s anarchist graphics. In 1987, Sagmeister won a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Here humour emerged as the dominant theme in his work. When a girlfriend asked him to design business cards which would cost no more than $1 each, Sagmeister printed them on dollar bills. And when

a friend from Austria came to visit, having voiced concern that New York women would ignore him, Sagmeister postered the walls of his neighbourhood with a picture of his friend under the words “Dear Girls! Please be nice to Reini”. After three years in the US, Sagmeister returned to Austria for compulsory military service. As a conscientious objector, he was allowed to do community work in a refugee centre outside Vienna. He stayed in Austria working as a graphic designer before moving to Hong Kong in 1991 to join the advertising agency, Leo Burnett. “They asked if I would be interested in being a typographer, “ he later told the author, Peter Hall. “So I made up a high number and said I would do it for that.” When the agency was invited to design a poster for the 1992 4As advertising awards ceremony, Sagmeister depicted a traditional Cantonese image featuring four bare male bottoms. Some ad agencies boycotted the awards in protest and the Hong Kong newspapers received numerous letters of complaint. Sagmeister’s favourite said: “Who’s the asshole who designed this poster?” By spring 1993, he had tired of Hong Kong. Sagmeister spent a couple of months working from a Sri Lankan beach hut before going back to New York. As a Pratt Institute student, his dream had been to work at M&Co, the late Tibor Kalman’s graphics studio. Sagmeister bombarded Kalman with calls and finally persuaded him to sponsor his green card application. Four years later on his return from Hong Kong, the green card came through. His first project for M&Co was an invitation for a Gay and Lesbian Taskforce Gala for which he designed a prettily packaged box of fresh fruit. Cue a logistical nightmare as M&Co’s staff struggled to stop the fruit rotting in the heat of a sweltering New York summer. A few months later, Tibor Kalman announced that he was closing the studio to move to Rome, and Sagmeister set up on his own. His goal was to design music graphics, but only for music he liked. To have the freedom to do so, Sagmeister decided to follow Kalman’s advice by keeping his company small with a team of three: himself, a designer (since 1996, the Icelander, Hjalti Karlsson) and an intern. Sagmeister Inc’s first project was its own business card, which came in an acrylic slipcase. When the card is inside the case, all you see is an S in a circle. Once outside, the company’s name and contract details appear. The second commission came from Sagmeister’s brother, Martin who was

opening Blue, a chain of jeans stores in Austria. Sagmeister devised an identity consisting of the word blue in black type on an orange background. As none of the record labels he approached seemed interested in his work, Sagmeister seized the chance to design a CD cover for a friend’s album, H.P. Zinker’s Mountains of Madness. Many of his contemporaries felt that music graphics had become less interesting once their old canvas, the vinyl LP cover, had shrunk to the dimensions of a CD, but Sagmeister saw the CD as a toy with which he could tantalise consumers. Having spotted a schoolgirl on the subway reading a maths text book through a red plastic filter, he placed his CD cover inside a red-tinted plastic case. Replicating the optical illusion of his business card, the complete packaging shows a closeup of a placid man’s face, but once the CD cover is slipped out from the red plastic, the man’s face appears furious in shades of red, white and green. Mountains of Madness won Sagmeister the first of his four Grammy nominations. Invited by Lou Reed to design his 1996 album Set the Twilight Reeling, Sagmeister inserted an indigo portrait of Reed in an indigo-tinted plastic CD case. When the paler coloured cover is removed, Reed literally emerges from the twilight. The following year, Sagmeister depicted David Byrne as a plastic GI Joe-style doll on the cover of Feelings. One of his trickiest assignments was for the Rollings Stones’ 1997 Bridges to Babylon album and tour. Sagmeister struggled to persuade the band’s management to accept his motif of a lion inspired by an Assyrian sculpture in the British Museum. Also the astrological sign of the Rolling Stones’ lead singer, Mick Jagger (a Leo), the lion doubled as an easily reproducible motif for tour merchandise. As well as these music projects, Sagmeister still took on other commercial commissions and pro bono cultural projects, such as his AIGA lecture posters. The obscenely elongated wagging tongues of 1996’s Fresh Dialogue talks series in New York and a Headless Chicken strutting across a field for 1997’s biennial conference in New Orleans culminated in the drama of Sagmeister’s scarred, knife-slashed torso for 1999’s deceptively blandly titled, AIGA Detroit. In June 2000, Sagmeister decided to treat himself to a long-promised year off to concentrate on experimental projects and a book Sagmeister, sub-titled Made You Look with the sub-sub-ti-


MARIAN BANTJES Marian Bantjes was born in 1963 and is a Canadian designer, artist, illustrator, typographer and writer.Bantjes started working in the field of visual communication in 1983 and worked as a book typesetter from 1984–1994. She became well known as a talented graphic designer from 1994–2003, when she was a partner and senior designer at Digitopolis in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she created identity and communication designs for a wide range of corporate, education and arts organizations. [1]

Nobody would describe Canadian illustratordesigner Marian Bantjes as an overnight success, but her career trajectory over the past five or so years has been positively meteoric compared to her first twenty years of professional practice. Bantjes has achieved international prominence as an individual with a recognisable personal signature that shines through all her work, from intensely commercial work for brands anxious to capture the decorative Zeitgeist, to equally intense personal gestures; from collaborations (with Stefan Sagmeister, Pentagram and other celebrated designers) to commissions for magazine and timeconsuming pro bono projects. Marian Bantjes was born in 1963, and grew up in Saskatchewan. She dropped out of art school after a year and in 1983 ‘fell in’ to a job with book publisher Hartley & Marks, where she did general jobs and helped with paste-up at its typesetting sibling, TypeWorks. An aptitude for computer typesetting (on XyWrite) slowly developed into an understanding of typography and design. In 1994, she co-founded Digitopolis in Vancouver, and the design practice grew quickly, producing mainly print-based work. But after eight or so years of this, Bantjes dropped out once more. Her partner bought her out, while retaining her on contract for a further year. In July 2003, Bantjes struck out on her own, moving to an isolated property on Bowen Island, in Howe Sound off Vancouver. Such a radical change of practice and lifestyle had a cost: after surviving for a year on savings Bantjes was obliged to take out a loan. She sent out posters to editors, writers, designers, potential clients, collaborators and cheerleaders, and spent time on the Speak Up blog (, where she was made an Author in November 2003. ‘I’ve come close to working with a couple of agencies for very big brands, but either the money isn’t there or the agency just has a stupid idea that I’m not interested in working on. Like they want type with a bunch of bullshit curlicues coming off it. Yawn. Go away.’ She is currently taking a year away from commissioned work to complete a book of illuminated essays for Thames & Hudson. Several of her pieces are part of the permanent collection of the CooperHewitt National Design Museum (Smithsonian), New York, and she became a member of the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) in September 2008. Marian Bantjes I can remember scribbling on walls

… probably when I was two or three. I remember a book with little drawings in the margins, one of which was of some beetles (and this is how I imagined The Beatles, as a band of beetles like the drawings in the book). When my mother died, I reclaimed a package of old drawings and writings, and was overjoyed to see them again. MB: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember, and written as long as I could write. My mother was very good at encouraging us to be creative – her favourite thing to do with kids was provide a big roll of paper and some pens / crayons / paints /whatever. We also made a lot of things: out of papier mache, clay, toothpicks and – my favourite – cardboard boxes. Mum really frowned on anything that was a kit or had a prescribed outcome. I went to art school for a year before dropping out. I did for a while think I could be a ‘commercial artist’ (I’d never heard of a ‘graphic designer’) though my concept of what that was, was vague – except that it involved earning a living, and was less prestigious. At some point I gave up on this idea of being an Artist. Then I fell into typesetting and my path was laid. MB: At the publisher Hartley & Marks, I helped out with paste-up and they trained me on XyWrite, a word-processing program that was a lot like HTML. I learned typesetting as a set of rules. First I was recreating a pencil-drawn, marked-up layout from the designer, so what I made had to be what was specified; then there were basic rules about typography (how you treat small caps, how you kern, etc.). phans … this immensely. This is rare now. Most in pencil. And I found a nice contrast between the mechanical and the organic. For most work, I envision what I want to do, then start drawing it. I often start on graph paper, which helps keep the structure… I never doodle, and I never sketch multiples of ideas. I draw one single thing that represents what’s inside my head. So I have a sketch, and if it’s really messy or needs more work, I’ll probably take it to tracing paper and work it up again until it’s right. I might then scan this and if it’s ready to go into vector art, I’ll just trace it, bezier curve by bezier curve, in Illustrator. In this sense the computer is just a finishing tool.

MB: My standard answer is ‘architecture’, but lately I really want to work in the promotion of science. I’m a fan of the atheist movement, and I’d like to do something to help, which can be done through science and graphics (as well as building communities, which is very important, because what people really want is to belong). The problem with science is that very little attempt has been made to make it appealing and accessible. I could go on, but let’s just say, ‘Richard Dawkins, call me.’ I did some patterns for the fabric manufacturers Maharam, and I’d like to do more, provided it’s unpredictable. I did a scarf design for the New York designer Bruno Grizzo that was never made. I think it would have been a beautiful scarf. I’d love to work with a fashion designer but I want more than just slapping graphics on something. I have some brilliant ideas for plates… And I don’t get enough actual design (my own damned fault for not being a designer any more). But I really do love to handle information. I want more posters, and maybe some books, certainly a magazine – I’d love to design a magazine, perhaps in collaboration with someone else. MB: There are things that can only be fully appreciated ‘in person’. The Design Matters Live poster was one, as was the GDC AR and the Design Ignites Change poster. A lot of my work begins and ends as a digital piece, and whether seen in its original context, on the Web, or in a book or a magazine, it makes no real difference. But I welcome the opportunities to make something that is different when you hold it in your hands. I confess I do now aspire to be collected in museums. And I want it to be a special pleasure to see the piece in person. I have had many a transformative experience with art this way. You see the real thing and you say ‘Oh! I get it, now.’ Or you completely change your mind about the artist! And I want that.