Monday, September 22, 2008

Field Trip

I really enjoyed going to Wash U for the field trip. Viewing slides in class gives you a general idea about what books and ads looked liked during a specific time period, but you can't experience them. Being at the museum, touching the books, feeling them, seeing how they were made, really made a difference. I had no emotion toward the works, just seeing them on the screen, but now I can get into them and understand them more. I definitely enjoyed the modern books and prints as well! Seeing some of those things was just so neat! It was amazing what some artists could do with paper. I liked the globe, and the candy box the best. Printmaking is such a tedious process, and I have a lot of respect for those that do it. I took printmaking last year and I had a really hard time with it. It was very frustrating for me because I am a perfectionist and every little flaw bothered me. My teacher told me that those were marks that proved that the work was hand made, but it was still hard to get past that concept. Some of the books at the museum reiterated that concept. The makers liked to show off that it was hand crafted, like one book left the green thread that bound it together visible. It is amazing how books were made many years ago, and how so many illustrations in them were hand drawn. 

Field Trip

I too enjoyed the field trip very much. Being in graphic design and so constrained to the computer, I often forget the importance of hand-made materials and what a difference it makes to the overall feel and quality of the art. Paper for instance, makes a huge impression on the piece and there are many types to choose from be it thick, thin, translucent, colored, etc. I'm so used to getting the standard Epson paper, I need to remember to venture out of the box (when appropriate). I'm glad to see contemporary artists take the time to invent new books and reading styles. I think Wash U has an invaluable resource at their hands and if anyone starts feeling bogged down by standards, grids, or computers, an artistic bit of fresh air is just what they need and is waiting for them at the library.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wash U Field Trip

The most interesting thing I experienced on the field trip was that the books and leaflets were actually real. I know that it was said that they were real, but I really didn't believe it. But on closer examination of those things you could tell that they were in fact VERY old.

I liked several of the pieces, including the Gutenberg Bible leaflet, most of the contemporary books, and another book written in French I later found out (the one that had the history about everything way back when). The Bible leaflet was incredible! To look close up at the printed section and then compare it to the hand written section you couldn't see any differences between the two. My favorite of the contemporary pieces was the "candy box". How clever and ingenius!

Overall the trip was fun and educational.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Advertisements During the Industrial Revolution

This is a great example of what advertising looked like during the Industrial Revolution. Many typefaces were used, and even some were hand drawn. Often times the most important text have shadows behind them. A lot of information was crammed into one advertisement. Some information so small that you could hardly read. I have also noticed that most advertisements during this time used distorted text. Mostly in the shape of an arch or a wave. The ads were very decorative with a lot of detailing, often around the edges. Information, images, and text were placed all over the place with no rhyme or reason. Most things I have mentioned are cons, but there are some pros. For instance they knew that to provide emphasis on something they should make it bigger, bolder, or have shadowing to make it pop out at the viewer. They were able to put a lot of information into one ad and it may not be very successful but they have started to group information together and form the beginnings of a layout.

If I growing up during this time I would want a little more layout design to come into play. As a designer I would go to printers and offer design services to them to help get information across clearer. A designer could work for the printer, so that when a company needed an ad made they got a little bit more of a personal experience. When the company came into the printer, a designer would be there to help them formulate an ad. I would also suggest that they use fewer typefaces in one single ad, and try to choose typefaces that are easy to read at first glance. Organizing the information better, and trying to simplify it would be a great start. A good layout is very important. 

The Industrial Revolution brought about a lot of new products and services, and many company's needed advertisements, and they needed them fast. I assume that this is why ads were thrown together like this with little thought about design.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace was a great innovation of the industrial revolution in Great Britain. It was both acclaimed and criticized for its design.
The pros of this creation include:
--It was modular (made of standard units that could be easily constructed)
--It could be (and was) disassembled to function for its temporary use
--Made of fairly inexpensive materials (glass and iron)
The cons include:
--A mechanical design that was criticized for its dehumanization and standardization
Stylistically, before the industrial revolution, buildings were made of concrete, stone, and heavy materials. Gothic Revival architecture was still popular, so this lead to the battle between Gothic and Classical. The Crystal Palace lead the way to the modern style and just as expected, cleaner, simpler forms became popular.

Friday, September 12, 2008

If you Google the Victorian Era, images of fashion arise. Yet if you type in Victorian Era art paintings appear.
The paintings are like photographs, you are not sure whether it is a painting or a real photograph. But then you realize it is in color and there was no color photography back then. They are almost dream-like, that they don't seem to really exist. Some appear whimsical in that they are fantasy paintings. Of a maiden walking through the forest with sun peering through the trees lighting the way. A unicorn at her side and arriving at a palace in the woods. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?
Painters don't paint like that anymore. I don't remember the last time I saw a painting like those from the Victorian Era. Its as if there is no more imagination (thanks to video games). There is no sense of what was and what is. When did dogs noses start looking like triangles instead of a rectangular form?
I am going to contradict myself of what I just wrote, but if I were to be a painter back then, my thought of what should come next would be a more simplistic way of painting. More shapes than images, more subtle colors not such a wide range of (paintings wouldn't take as long to paint), I guess that's what you could call abstract. And so that would bring us into another era.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I found this image in the AIGA design archives. This is the cover art (designed by John Gall) for the book Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. Doctor Faustus is a work of fiction that follows the life of a German composer in the 1940s.
The typestyle used for the cover is Fraktur, which was based on calligraphy. This particular typestyle was created by a German printer, Anton Schonsperger, in 1506. I think this typestyle works well for the cover of the book for a few reasons:
  • This typestyle just looks very German to me (which makes sense, considering that it was created by a German). Without knowing anything about the book, I assumed it was about someone German, or something related to Germany, just by looking at the cover.
  • I have not read this book, but all of the reviews I read claim that the book has a very dark and pessimistic feel to it. To me, this typestyle is very dark and ominous looking, which seems to fit the book.
  • At the time this typestyle was created, the word Fraktur was not only the name of a typestyle, but also a generic term used to refer to all blackletter type. Blackletter type has a very dark feel to it, which goes back to the dark tone of the book.

I think the designer did an excellent job of conveying the feel of this book. It shows that you don't always have to use a lot of color or pictures to get your point across. You can tell just from looking at the cover that this book is not a fluffy piece of reading, but a very heavy one.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Well, my image wouldn't save either, but to look at it just search the design archives and search for the book titled Still Such because the cover is designed in the typeface Sabon as well as the text in the pages of the book itself.
Sabon was designed by German typographer and designer Jan Tschichold in 1966, based on the sixteenth-century typefaces of Claude Garamond. It is classified as Humanist or Old Style and the typeface is frequently described as a Garamond revival.
The typeface is appropriate for this book's cover because the book is about classical literature and Sabon is a classical font. I read a quote from the book and it spoke of "first country life" and "first Europe." It seemed to me that the speaker was inspired by his/her country's rich heritage, enjoyed Europe's beauty and splendor, and had a zest for life. The reading seemed almost poetic and the Sabon typeface shares this tone. Its fluid, organic shape and varied thick-to-thin curves reflect the human form from which it was inspired and it is used successfully in this design.



I was looking in the design archives for an example of something displaying the Garamond typeface. I couldn't find a direct match, but the font displayed on this book is very similar. The Garamond typeface was developed in the 1500's, during the Renaissance. It was one of the first typefaces to eliminate the black letter, Gotchic type, and it is still used today. It makes the font clearer, and easier to read. It is probably why the designer chose this typeface for the cover of his book. It gets the message across clearly and quickly. It is perfect for this book which was designed to display the beauty of typography and the power that words can have. The book cover is simple, but gets the point across. There aren't bright colors, or beautiful images, or eye-catching graphics, just words. It is elegant, and it grabs my attention because it isn't gaudy, or overworked. It would stand out on a bookshelf for those reasons. The layout is nice as well. I can't think of any ways to improve the design. It just shows how important typography is to the design world. 


Well, the photo I was trying to upload wouldn't, so I'll just talk about it.

I found a book design off of the AIGA archives search engine. It was titled The Potomac Canal and having it set in Jenson typeface is seemed very scholarly. It was a history book and I could tell this by the name, George Washington, underneath the title. And on second thought, the type seemed to disappear into the clouds of the painting that was also on the cover causing a little airy feeling.

I think the designer of the book cover did a decent job. I think the title could have been larger, because the painting becomes the center of attention when first you want to know what kind of book it is. When I first looked at it, I thought it was an art book then I went in search of the title and found it to be a history book.

While the cover is simple it also packs alot of information onto the cover and it makes the reader want to find out more about the Potomac Canal and George Washington.

If you would like to see the book cover simply:
1), and click on the archives at the top of the screen
2) Once inside the archives, search Jenson
3) The book cover was the seventh choice.