Posted tagged ‘design’

Playing With Titles

May 12, 2015

Planning is ongoing for future projects, and so is the play-time associated with the design of the titles. Here are three examples; which one do you like?

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I’m thinking the above works, but it begs the question: what is so important about the big E.S. (other than it fits in the middle and end)

 

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Not bad, again it looks cool, but comprehension is somewhat lacking. Then again, if you don’t know Ecclesiastes from the first 3 or 4 letters, there’s another comprehension problem. This model at least begs for a long, thin engraving on the reverse page, as you can see the spread is shaping out.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 6.42.41 PMAnd this works as well, in that at least the change in direction does not follow in a “mid-word” crossover, like crossword puzzles. It opens the option for an illustration in the white space, or some text play, or just white space!

 

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2015: A Fresh Start

January 10, 2015

Ohhh, look! I’ve got a blog! I should really use it…

So, a new year and an energized press. By way of explanation, the last couple of (bookless) years have been a time of thought and entrenchment, crisis and recovery. With Greyweathers Press’ 10th anniversary this year, it is time to rip loose. For starters, I’m going back a couple of years to a project that ground to a halt in media res, a little Gothic Trifle with the rather clunky title of The Necromancer and the Seventh Daughter. A while back the title seemed fine, but now with the popularity of The Hobbit, the term ‘necromancer’ is known wide and far. Oh well. The original title used ‘sorcerer’, another word now famous, or rather infamous, considering real people burned with this brand are losing the heads in Saudi Arabia!

This is the second foray with Septima, her first being centered on dispatching a high-born vampire who was drinking her way though all the beautiful youth of the City. (There are still a couple of copies available.)

Now, keeping up with trends, it’s zombies, a festering golem, and something of an environmental message, along with Septima’s spunky “don’t fuss with me” girl-power attitude (a la Buffy & Joss Whedon). Setting type began just over a year ago, so that will resume, with my attention now on illustrations. Below are five of eight thumbnail sketches and an idea of what I’m thinking for Septima: The Sequel.

wraps

Sketches are very rough, the finishing will be done on the block. It is similar to what an inker does for the art in a comic book. In this case, it’s kind of hard seeing Septima standing there wearing an ironic look at something very tall. I added the stone cobbles behind her to help with perspective even though in this sketch it fights with the mummy-like wrappings she wears. I’ll work it out on the block.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet prance than a sprint, but it looks as though she's goin' like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We'll see.

Septima does a lot of running in this story. I found the image of a leaping runner going flat out; actually, this its more of a ballet leap than a sprint, but it looks as though she’s goin’ like stink! I may add a few zombie hands reaching out from the right side. We’ll see. The dress needs work – lots of ripples and wrinkles to show movement.

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The Ghost Fleet that threatens the City. A rough re-working of another image, probably of the Black Fleet, again from Tolkien. I will probably embellish the ships with dragon heads and skulls etc. The dramatic sky will give me a chance to try out my newly acquired multiple liner.

golem

And that’s just the eyes and forehead. So it’s really, really big, consideting there’s Septima, the wee little thing, down at the bottom. She’ll be tricky to get right… it only takes about six or eight tiny cuts to do a figure that small, so every one has to be perfect. Might use my big doughnut magnifier on this one. The letters on the forehead are backwards for a reason.

bath

Septima spends a lot of time in this installment crawling around in sewage, so her reward for saving the City and her family (AGAIN) is to be hustled off to a vigorous bath. I thought it was kind of funny at the time, until considering how to illustrate with propriety a 15 year old superhero in the bath. The solution is lots of bubbles, and just enough expression on her face to show her what she thinks about it. Of course, how I’m going to carve bubbles from wood is anybodies guess, but we’ll get there.

Measure twice, print once

December 13, 2013

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There is always the temptation to just throw the type down and print. But for the last few days, I’ve been setting and dissing type on the zombie book, working out the letter and word length for the fully justified columns of text. No ink involved at all. It’s important because there is no way this time that I will be able to set the entire text with the limited type that I have; page one on the press may face page four, so working out all problems in advance is the way to go. Also, setting and dissing the odd paragraph in different sizes helps me get reacquainted with the medium — it has been awhile since I did much creative work on the press (year round-up report coming later in the month). The good news is that I seem to have worked out most of the typographic spacing issues, and that’s thanks in part to using Adobe software (Indesign) to create my page layout and dummy. It allows me to parse the type to match very closely the metal type and thus, if the moon and stars align, it becomes a simple way to impose and paginate the text. It should work; I’ll keep you posted!

Zombies at Greyweathers Press

December 8, 2013
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Laser printed layout dummy for the first page. The square beneath the drop cap shows spacing for a long, narrow illustration.

And so production begins on The Necromancer and the Seventh Daughter, the sequel to the popular Vampire & the Seventh Daughter that we printed a few years ago. I didn’t start the press for vanity purposes, but once in a while it is satisfying to watch one’s own words roll of the press. These “Gothick Trifles” as I call them harken back to my reading and viewing roots in sci fi, horror and fantasy literature so I consider these works more than most personal projects.

firstpage

This was the title page for the first book. In it, we are introduced to Septima who, being a 7th daughter of a 7th daughter, has some extraordinary powers, and a particular brand of pugnacious courage that is a particular nuisance and foil to baddies. The baddy in that story was the vampire princess who was eating through her serving staff, and for some reason her father the king didn’t seem all that alarmed. Enter Septima and, well, it’s a fable so I’m hardly spoiling it to say that things go poorly for the vampire. This is often the case.

The second Gothick Trifle is longer, about 2,000 words and a bit more complex. I wanted to play with the story of the golem, but also work in some kind of environmental comment, and zombies, because, well, you know, zombies are hot.It may have been a bit too many devices for once very short fable, but there you go. The first draft was about 3,500 words. Even after crunching it down and taking out all the stuff I really liked, it still took about about 700 words of back story before Septima even got mentioned, so I rewrote the whole so that she came in at the beginning, and a little sooner in the story.

The first one had four pretty simple linocuts. This one will have perhaps eight wood engravings, or so that is my intention now.  I’ve doubled the paper (it will be sixteen pages as opposed to the previous eight) but I still thought I’d have to set in 10 point, but as it turns out, a little more judicious editing (the first draft was 3,500 words) and cutting a couple of illustrations means 12 point will work, which makes the setting job easier. Naturally, it will be hand set lead type, our house face, Italian Oldstyle. While I work on the type and engravings and printing, I’ll be pondering the binding, which I may do the same as the last one, or try something different entirely. I’m hoping for an edition of 75.

 

 

Brag Post – Alcuin Awards Ceremony, Toronto

October 11, 2013
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The quote on the right reads: “Book design is one of the excellencies by which a civilization can be measured.” – Munroe Wheeler

Holly and I made the journey to Toronto early this week to attend the Eastern Canadian presentation of the Alcuin awards for excellence in book design. Alcuin is Vancouver-based, so the west coast version took place the week prior in Vancouver. In Toronto, it was held at the storied Arts and Letters Club, where notable artists and writers, designers and architects and creative types have been hobnobbing since the early 20th century.

I’m enthusiastic about the Group of Seven, a cabal of Canadian artists who painted the wilderness in a very impressionistic manner. (I’m particularly fascinated by Tom Thomson, who died in mysterious circumstances in Canada’s north country before the Group formed, but he had an immense influence on the other members. Toronto wood engraver George Walker has printed an amazing wordless novel about the life of Tom Thomson – check it out HERE). The only existing photograph of all seven artists together was taken in the room where Alcuin (east) met for dinner and a speech on Carl Dair’s Cartier typeface by type designer Rod McDonald.

From the Arts and Letters Club great hall: the massive hearth, gothic window and fanciful coats of arms representing the founders of the club.

From the Arts and Letters Club great hall: the massive hearth, gothic window and fanciful coats of arms representing the founders of the club.

I could go on and on, but I was equally in awe of the surroundings, and of the many sketches and paintings of Canadian artists on the walls, and in the talent in the room that evening. We sat with the above mentioned George Walker and his wife Michelle, and artist, wood engraver (and club member) Alan Stein. Andrew Steeves from Gaspereau Press came from Nova Scotia to collect several citations for his peerless book designs.

A bit about the Alcuin Awards: they are the only awards in Canada (that I know of) that celebrates how a book appears, how it’s construction and how it feels. It covers all books from all publishers, big and small with categories like pictorial, prose fiction and non-fiction, poetry, etc. The awards are normally first, second, third and an honourable mention, although these are at the discretion of the jury, which changes every year. A jury could (and has) rejected all books in a given category, or conversely award ties for first or second, or more than one honourable mentions.

Our Tintern Abbey picked up an honourable mention citation in the limited edition category for 2012. I say ‘our’ because the book was very much a collaborative effort by three people. The judges made a special note about Holly’s calligraphy in the book, and also my wood engravings. I know it would not have made it so far without Redbone Bindery‘s (Natasha Herman) elegant binding design for the regular edition, which incorporates Holly’s painted papers.

The title page spread.

The title page spread.

Perhaps my only regret about the evening was that I went up alone to claim the prize. Being the second award called, we weren’t aware that groups could go up, as others did thereafter. As you can see from the photo above in the calligraphy on the title page and the colour of the ink, Holly bears a lot of the  responsibility for the success of the book, and I am always grateful to have such a talent in my camp.

I don’t have a book for Alcuin for 2013; this has been a year of promoting and organizing and showing and selling. But I will hopefully have two in contention for the 2014 awards.

MONDO GRAPHICA at Studio 22 in Kingston

September 22, 2013

mondoGraphica

Years ago I went to Kingston to a show at a newish gallery in Kingston, located right downtown behind the domed city hall, adjacent the market square. They were holding a paper show; I think it was actually called ‘The Paper Show’ and I thought: “Well, this is different…. a fine art gallery that loves type and design.” That sensibility comes from Hersh and Ally Jacob. Hersh is a designer and book enthusiast who loves art and expression, and Ally has an incredible design sense when it comes to space and working out the intricate puzzle of how an exhibit fits together and still works. Together they run Studio 22, one of the coolest galleries I know.

Last night, on one of the wettest nights in a very wet year, they opened the doors on Mondo Graphica, an group exhibition featuring design houses instead of individuals. Holly and I went in together as The Studio at Greyweathers, one of the very few times we’ve exhibited under our actual business and partnership name. What a refreshing and interesting show! Hersh and Ally brought in some veteran designers and some new young talent as well, showing what strong design talent exists in the region.

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Hersh Jacobs’ own work under The Idea Manufactory moniker – fantastic books and broadsides!

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One view of our display at Studio 22’s Mondo Graphica.

It was great to see Holly's calligraphic designs out on show and available again.

It was great to see Holly’s calligraphic designs out on show and available again.

If I were beefed up a bit more I'd look like the  bodyguard for some nefarious kingpin. But dressing black is easy; really I'm just happy to be there and seeing all the cool design work.

If I were beefed up a bit more I’d look like the bodyguard for some nefarious kingpin. But dressing black is easy; really I’m just happy to be there, seeing all the cool design work.

 

 

 

A Sampling of Type for the Ottawa Press Gang

August 17, 2012

From the poster sized type sampler printed earlier in the year.

I’m my own worst enemy. I have ages to work on the most recent Ottawa Press Gang project. In this, participating members of the Gang supply a comprehensive sampling of types from their cabinets. My original goal was to do have the work done on this sampler form the foundation of a stand-alone type specimen of all the types in the studio – a kind of record before I send some of the display types off to other homes. But time has had its way, and now I have to rush, the deadline being one week hence.

I love these Press Gang projects; they keep the lead flowing. But I don’t like rushing to a deadline, even though I am utterly hard-wired that way. Having run through all of the 35 trays of type in my possession, and having set in some manner or another the type therein, I know my OPG contribution will be a bit compromised.

I had done the poster-sized sampler last year and learned a few lessons about setting up type specimens, and a few incongruities in the composition of several of my trays of type. Somewhere I described the trays of type that I have acquired from other sources as “quixotic” and I have no intent of changing the description. Having delved more or less exhaustively into all the cabinets, I have found some very intriguing variations on the lay of the California case.

Page layout for my Ottawa Press Gang (OPG) contribution.

Lord Tennyson, the shop foreman, is not pleased with my work. Or my working when he wants his dinner.

For this new project, even after planning the layout, I realized that some of the larger faces (e.g. 60 pt Cloister Black) would have trouble fitting into the prescribed format: 4.25″ wide x 11″ tall, or an 8.5×11 sheet folder lengthwise. So when I say this is a sampler, I really mean a sample – several samples do not include the complete font. Many of the smaller faces will be presented in their full glory, but constraint was necessary. Even thus restrained, my dummy rang in at 16 pages.

Garamond, set and ready to print.

In ideal circumstances, with oodles of time, I’d like to do a specimen with a little more scope. A consistent order. Careful selection of characters, with all of them represented. Spread out, give the layout room to breath, upper case, lower case, figures and small caps on their own lines, and the caps letterspaced. Perhaps opposite, in lieu of illustrations, designs created with the appropriate type. Get some colour into the mix. Well, food for thought, and probably a project down the road. Another thing I like about OPG projects is that they stand as a kind of think-piece or dry run for more ambitious future projects.

(Almost) everything I’ve got.

This week, I’ve been churning through spacing material, leading and quads, filling up half a dozen galley trays with 60+ uppercase and lowercase type. And not done yet: title page, two pages using the type in a design, and a colophon (and my weekend is toast!). I own adequate spacing material for 10, 12, 14 and 24 pt, with barely enough to get by on in 18 pt. Sure enough, eight faces had to be set in that size, and the larger faces – 30, 36, 42, & 60 – require 18 pt spacers in combination with other sizes (e.g. 18 pt + 12 pt spacers works for 30 pt type etc.). And I burned through my supply of 20 pica leading – at least a couple hundred lines, then. I’ll have to cut some more.

Next week: morning, noon, and night on the press.


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