Page 1

UNIFIED ART FORM Frames from the title sequence for the film Seven, by Kyle Cooper and Imaginary Forces. This is design at its most emotionally charged and expressive. It fulfils its basic function in that it names the film and the director and the actors and the technicians. It also acts like an overture, to introduce the themes in the film: the lettering is frantically scratched by hand, and jerks around on the screen. The design replicates the idiolect – the private language – of the madman at the film’s centre, with all sorts of meaningless lettering, scrapbook pages, biblical phrases, obliterations and scribbles. Is this film intro-sequence the unified art form that so many have sought, since it combines literature, drama, music and graphic design?

COMMODIFICATION This remarkable website ( offers a logo designed for you within 72 hours. You type in your brief and contact details and pay by card. Standard terms and conditions apply. This is design as a regularised commodity, a purchase of little consequence. Surprisingly, the logos are very good – well drawn, varied, appropriate to the activities of the different clients. A company could do a lot worse, and pay a lot more. If all efforts to commodify design are as competent, it will thrive.





ATTACHED TO A FRAMEWORK All these pieces use the same base: the moulded ‘sprue’ that holds the pieces of plastic models together before they are twisted off and constructed. Each design uses the sprue as a metaphor in the same basic way – it is a unified collection – but its tone and detailed meaning vary with each iteration. To compare two: the Dawkins book cover follows through on the author’s ideas about genes. Every creature is generated by its genetic code, and the sprue acts as a wry, tongue-in-cheek comment on this apparently mechanistic predetermination. (Note that little plastic Penguin logo.) In the essays in his Anglo-English Attitudes, Geoff Dyer examines clichés in literature and in the wider culture. The sprue in this case, with its soldiers frozen in predictable and fixed postures, is a parallel for a set of clichéd intellectual ideas.



‘THE BLIND WATCHMAKER’ The Blind Watchmaker, published by Penguin Books, cover illustration by Liz Pyle; magazine advertising for the fashion magazine FHM; Anglo-English Attitudes published by Abacus; song titles for ‘Feelings’ by David Byrne, shown in Made You Look by Stefan Sagmeister, published by Booth-Clibborn Editions; ‘English Football Hooligan Set’ by Mother.



GRAPHIC AUTHORSHIP The term ‘graphic authorship’ has been doing the rounds over the last few years as something designers ought to do more of. It might sound like ‘writing about graphic design’, but actually the term seems infinitely re-interpretable without one clear, agreed definition. Many ‘graphic authors’ use text they have not written and pictures they have not taken, in layouts that seem quite similar to layouts produced by plain old graphic designers. The term carries with it an air of stridency and rebellion ­– a wish that graphic design play its part in putting the world to rights and for designers to break away from their restrictive commercial clients. But graphic design is already a broad church, with thousands of examples of ‘overtly authored’ publications, books, exhibitions and magazines. It takes more than attitude, desire and a loose term to create something genuinely fresh and exciting. If someone was looking for any unequivocal recent examples of graphic authorship to help set a central point for a definition, they might look to the masterly books by David Gentleman. He has covered Italy, India and the UK so far. He plans his trips in detail and then travels each country for six months, making hundreds of drawings, taking photographs and keeping an extraordinarily detailed diary. He then plans the book, writes it, makes each illustration, and designs and produces the final artwork. Every inch of Gentleman’s books is by his own hand (although he has not yet designed his own typeface). This picture shows the page plan in miniature of David Gentleman’s Italy in progress.


Transmission Transmission is a UK-based graphic design studio and editorial consultancy, working with some of the most recognizable names in the cultural, commercial, and charitable industries. Since its inception in 2010, Transmission has developed a reputation for creating projects that are timeless and engaging, the kind that people return to again and again. This philosophy is applied to multiple formats, including campaign design, exhibition curation, digital design, and book jackets, but they are most celebrated for their magazine and book creative direction. Typographic design is at the heart of the studio’s output, which is apposite and often bespoke for commercial projects. Self-initiated type experiments are also integral to studio development, and these are exhibited as screenprint posters at galleries nationwide.



“COLLECTOR’S EDITION” The new wave of limited-edition graphic design, created for the music, book, and magazine industries, is the subject of Stuart Tolley’s first book, Collector’s Edition: Innovative Packaging and Graphics, published by Thames & Hudson. This 288-page hardback book, with a hologram foil cover, is a celebration of innovative print production, the renaissance of vinyl, and the creative opportunities afforded by print design in the digital world. The design direction is clean and clear, leaving space for the exclusive photography. It includes subtle design details, such as page numbers that reference screenprinted editions, and playful headline typography for interviews.



Sawdust Sawdust is the creative partnership of Jonathan Quainton and Rob Gonzalez. Based in London, they have amassed an enviable list of global clients, including Nike, Wired, Audi, Esquire, Coca-Cola, the New York Times Magazine, and Honda, to become one of the foremost creative teams specializing in bespoke and innovative typography. At the heart of Sawdust’s output is a desire to create work that is both explorative and beautifully crafted. This is evident throughout their projects, which are sublimely intricate, exploring both digital and analog techniques. Sawdust’s genre-defying creative work has won many typographic design and identity awards. The most prestigious to date was in 2015, when their bespoke typography created in collaboration with Wired, the global technology and culture magazine, was nominated for the Design Museum’s annual “Designs of the Year” award.



“WIRED” MAGAZINE DIGITS Sawdust’s creative partnership with Wired has resulted in many outstanding 3-D typographic designs. This creative exploration continued when Wired UK commissioned them to create a series of bespoke numbers for the “Wired World in 2016” issue. The standalone numbers, which spanned from 0 to 9, were designed to reflect the new ideas that are shaping the world, the lead feature in the magazine. A sense of freedom was afforded the duo when they realized the numbers wouldn’t feature sequentially, but would be used individually as full-page section openers. The resulting digits echo the unimagined, futuristic, innovative concepts featured in the article. However, despite never appearing in sequence, the numbers needed to work as a family, to create unity throughout the magazine. This was achieved using strong color coordination and by standardizing the distribution of chrome detail and structural elements.



What is Graphic Design  
What is Graphic Design