All this week on the blog I’ll be writing about books, so I thought it would be a great idea to start thing off with this lovely video with Italian designer Massimo Vignelli discussing his approach to book design. The video – which was designed and animated by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and Aron Fay – shows Vignelli explaining his design process and his particular reverence for the grid.
Over the last few nights I’ve been stealing my girlfriend’s iPad and reading Jörgits & the End of Winter. It’s an illustrated and animated novel for children written by Anders Sandell and created by Tank and Bear. I had never read an interactive novel before and the adventure of the Jörgits was a wonderful introduction to the format.
Beautifully illustrated and designed by Anders, the book is filled with fantastic illustrations and the story is rich in interactive elements, allowing you to learn more about the characters, the environments and the story. You can get a good introduction to the book by checking out the video above.
You probably know by now that I’m a big fan of Nobrow Press. Yet despite my enthusiasm for the indie publishers, it wasn’t until recently that I got to check out their self-titled flagship magazine. Already up to issue 8, each publication is a fantastic compendium of contemporary graphic art, bringing together a wonderful collection of comic creators and illustrators.
The older I get the more I gravitate toward plants. It started about two years ago when I visited Joshua Tree for the first time. While hiking around the desert I began to notice the variety of plant life, and how a lot of it looked like things you would find under the ocean. The plants reminded me of seaweed, of urchins… and this was a crazy concept to me, that the desert and the ocean would have plants that could look so similar.
Encyclopedia of Nature, a new book released by Lars Müller Publishers, explores the breathtaking floral arrangements by Makoto Azuma. You could describe Azuma with the general term of a flower arranger, but that would be a serious over-simplification. Azuma takes the idea of flower arranging and turns the potentially mundane practice and completely flips it. He takes flowers and plants and creates what can only be called works of art.
Upon pondering posts for Iceland week, I immediately thought of one of my favorite books, Icelander by Dustin Long. Though it was published by McSweeney’s in 2006, it has remained in my conscious ever since. Not that I’d want to compare Mr. Long’s work to anyone else—because it’s assuredly singular and original—but his lackadaisical murder mystery is like Agatha Christie meets Vladimir Nabokov meets Haruki Murakami with pop culture and magical realism thrown in. There’s so much to love here including the cover design by Josh Cochran.
Last month Nobrow Press launched an exciting new children’s book imprint called Flying Eye Books. Over the last 4 years, Nobrow has been producing some really incredible books and comics and it’s exciting to see that they’re now bringing their talents to the world of children’s books. Focusing solely on publications for kids aged 4 to 11, this new imprint isn’t just exciting news for Nobrow fans, it’s exciting news for kids everywhere!
Over the course of the next year, they aim to release 12 new titles, ranging from picture books and comic books; to fiction and non-fiction. Some are generated in-house while others are translated versions of handpicked French and German titles. Looking at their upcoming releases it’s clear to see that these new titles will be just as good as their parent publisher’s output.
Imagine that the internet is dying and everyone is moving back to print. (Yes, the opposite of now.) And imagine that both older and younger people are the ones spearheading and embracing this change. Imagine that you’ve only ever known digital books and physical ownership is a new concept. Your world has only ever consisted of using, swapping, and sharing images and words online. You’ve never actually received a book as a gift with a handwritten inscription nor cut books into pieces then collaged them back together again gaining rights to your remixed work. This is the ethos behind the fantastic new Gestalten design book, Fully Booked: Ink on Paper. It’s a tongue-in-cheek yet serious (and necessary) ode to the concept and design of printed matter in our accelerating digital age.
Last week, after several years and two talks about organizing art, Ursus Wehrli published his latest book The Art of Clean Up, wherein he attempts to organize… just about everything. Bowls of soup, a single pine branch, or even a sky full of star, it seems nothing is immune from his penchant to introduce order. His process (photographed by Geri Born and Daniel Spehr) is carried to absurd extremes, where flower arrangements are made into tidy stacks of detached petals and stems, convoluted train maps are turned into neat stacks of lines, text, and dots, and even type itself is broken down into useless stacks of lines and curves.
A couple weeks ago I rather uncouthly declared on Twitter that our last Re-Covered Books contest, featuring The Hobbit as the subject, was a flat out disaster. I shortly after received an email from Adam Busby taking me to task about the comment. He had worked hard on his cover and it wasn’t fair to sweep the contest aside. He was right, and I was wrong. He sent me a copy of the cover design he created, and if you ask me, it was quite a winner.
I think what Adam did right with his cover is that he made it feel contemporary but still with a nod to the book because of the hand-made nature to the map in the background. It’s got all sorts of distressed print marks around the edges of the cover which makes it feel like the map has been used numerous times on a number of adventures. The font he chose/created for the title is also full of character, with a lopsided H and an I that’s shorter than the T. The back cover is simple and well organized, exactly what you’d want to see.
Overall I think Adam nailed this and absolutely had a chance of winning the contest. This cover is so spot-on you could imagine it being sold at Anthropologies and Urban Outfitters everywhere. You can see more of Adam’s great work by clicking here.
Icinori produce some of the best picture books I think I’ve ever seen! The publishing studio is made up of illustrators Mayumi Otero and Raphael Urwiller, and their publications often come in the form of impressively engineered pop-up books filled with beautiful illustrations and incredible paper constructions.
The book above is called Momotaro and it’s a retelling of a popular Japanese folk story. The name ‘Momotaro’ literally means Peach Taro, which is commonly translated as Peach Boy. According to the legend, the story tells the tale of a strange child born of an apricot who undertakes a quest and travels to a distant island to fight oni, eventually becoming a great hero in the process. Like much folklore, Momotaro is a fantastically off-the-wall tale but it also sounds like a really great story. You can learn more about it here. I love the look of Icinori’s adaptation and I really love how it manages to feel very traditional and yet completely modern all at once. Make sure to see more of their work by checking out their website here.