Not so much a slow blog week as a no blog week. Ace Jet's been oh so quiet because I've been oh so busy. Interesting projects/researches have consumed the Ace Jet brain. Expect to be re-entering the blogosphere any day now.
No FTF again I'm afraid. That last one was so damn good, a hard act to follow, so I'm not going to try until next week.
Instead, feast your eyes upon a set of high altitude enroute charts that Graham's sent me. Superb aren't they? I can now navigate my aircraft to Dakar safely or pop over to Caracas (where all the good looking girls live! Remember Gregory's Girl? No? Then that's just a very bad joke. Actually, even if you do remember, it's still a very bad joke). Ehum...well anyway, maps...
They're quite remarkable really; if a little too busy at times for nervous flyers (thankfully, I'm not one of them). Closer scrutiny reveals details to raise further concern, like the abundance of fuel dumping areas and rather casual reference to collision avoidance.
And I'm becoming increasingly worried that there's someone flying over Africa right now wondering where the hell their charts are.
Around the back of our main shopping mall, there is arguably one of Belfast City Centre's dodgiest streets: it's sex shop central. But at one end, there's my best Penguin book supplier. He's got a whole stash of them, tucked away in the far corner, thankfully well away from his more unsavory offering.
And that's where I found this edition of the Dictionary of Science. Again designed by Omnific/Birdsall, although I have no idea what the brief was, I really like the way they've taken the "derivative" idea and turned it into the idea for the design; the book is a derivative, so the design should be too. Genius!. Well, at least that's what I get from it.
This is one of the few old books that I've conscientiously sought out - and well worth the effort it was too.
As much about the business of being a graphic designer as the "art", when Garland wrote this classic in the mid-sixties certain things were, of course, massively different to how they are today, like most of the section on "the designer's tools" (it's all Rotrings and rolling parallel rulers. Actually, I'd bloody love one of them. Has anyone got one that they don't want?). The exception being the bit about the telephone (he emphasises the importance of clarity and accuracy).
Many things are just the same, like the bit about "useful redundancy"; where Garland suggests that there are times when the urge to simplify should be resisted. And the page on "establishing verticals in the image without a rising front"; the photographic technique of distorting the image within the plate camera to ensure verticals stay vertical. A technique I've never used but a result I've often obtained through the gift of Photoshop (I do like my verticals to be vertical and, for that matter, my horizontals to be horizontal).
Last week I set myself up nicely for Andrew and Dory's question about a must-read list for designers. So I've been thinking about it and what I thought was that there's no point me being obscure (like suggesting Vincent Steer's Printing Design and Layout, which is brilliant but ancient) because if it's not accessible it's not much use. I also thought there's not much point me giving you a list of the same old same old (like Spiekermann's sheep book, essential though it is or that Phil Baines book that everyone likes).
But then I thought it might be just ever so slightly more interesting and useful to suggest a list of books that are not obvious designer fodder but that might just help you become a more rounded designer. They also touch on some of those things that Adrian Shaughnessy talked about when he was here last week.
So, in no particular order (and no links to Amazon where you'll find most, if not all):
A Technique for Producing Ideas James Webb Young
A classic for advertising types but great for rationalising something that a lot of us designer types already do and oh, how I wish I'd known this when I started out. It's dead cheap and worth loads.
It's not how good you are, but how good you want to be
and Whatever you think, think the opposite Paul Arden
Full of simple (sometimes surprising) truths that we forget.
Perfect Pitch Jon Steel
Heralded by much cleverer people than me as the bible for anyone who has to develop and present ideas, don't be put off because it looks like a book for the ad industry. It's much more than that.
Common Sense Direct Marketing Jackson Bird
Again, don't be put off just because this looks like a monster. It's ugly but if, like me, you're from a design studio background but have to develop DM concepts, this book tells you how to do it and increase the chances of it actually working and not being a waste of money and trees.
Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers
and Copy-Editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Authors, Publishers
To quote Fletcher, "You can only muck about with language if you know what you're mucking about with. Otherwise, you're just being sloppy". These books will help with that and with the typographic details.
Art without Boundaries: 1950-70 Gerald Wood
Hooray! Something creative! This is a brilliant snapshot of amazing, inspiring, ground-breaking stuff happening between those dates. Out of print but easy to get, and cheap, and shows where we're coming from.
But surely that should be "Around...". It's almost as if they lost the cap "A" somehow and an all lower-case heading just seems a bit radical for a book like that. That said, I love the way the text is right up there, as high as it can go.
The Child's World is curious too: Helvetica, not the usual Akzidenz Grotesk. Set so nicely: tight, tight, tight. With a hanging "T". And super cool cropping of the picture, by Gerald Cinamon.
Chris's mate Adrian was in town on Friday to talk at the Design Futures event. He was really good: talking about the essential attributes of the designer: cultural awareness; integrity and the ability to string a coherent and meaningful sentence together in front of a client (talent being a given). He talked about the need to have a reason for doing everything and how "because I like it" is not one of them; how you need to think strategically and how you need to believe in something otherwise you can't expect your client to believe in you.
Oh, and how the ability to write and/or edit can be a valuable skill. Great and useful stuff. And a lot of that is not disconnected to something I'll post over the next couple of days. Adrian also showed us some work: Intro stuff and later collaborative projects like Varoom.
Before Mr Shaughnessy came on there were two other speakers:
First, Andrew Summers is chairman of Design Partners, "the industry/government body which promotes UK design internationally". And while his presentation lacked snazzy graphics, I think he covered important issues, like how, statistically, good design is good for business. Yes, I know we know that, but this man goes forth and tells the world. I also feel, while perhaps not as explicit as he might have been, he touched on this thing that Ben talks about.
GTF do really great work so hearing first-hand accounts was a real pleasure. For example: Andy talked through the work they've done for the Frieze Art Fair; first the branding then the promotional material. Unable to feature artwork (so many artists!) GTF suggested using images of the location, Regent's Park, and over the years have photographed the Park from various view points and during different seasons, while the event was rigging and from the air (amazing images). One year they even shot (er, photographed) the park's wildlife.
He went on to talk about what they've done for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Reluctant to take it on at first, fearing it too touristy, they took the plunge, proposing the idea of showing a different side of the theatre. Andy showed us fantastic photos of behind-the-scenes: actors, often in meticulous period dress, going about their back-stage business (the examples here are lovely but he showed others that were brilliant and hilarious).
Of course, GTF are also the people responsible for that very lovely Habitat logo (one of those, "I wish I'd done it" designs) and Andy explained how they were asked to look at it because Habitat's lawyers were telling them that they couldn't protect the much loved and enduring type style so needed a unique "fantasy mark". Funnily enough though, because Habitat has always had a type only logo, Andy explained, at first no none noticed that they'd actually done anything.
It was a brilliant Friday night out, made even better by the chance to mingle afterwards and have a bit of a chat and a plastic cup of something boozy.
Well, I've done it again, used images without asking. If anyone's got a problem with this, do let me know and they will be no more.
Lord Blog Almighty Russell Davies very kindly sent me this book. Blooming nice of him it was, not least because unknown to everyone probably, FTF is exactly one year old today (well, tomorrow technically). So it's right and proper that it should be a special edition.
There's so much to enjoy here: those extremely lovely Gill engravings, printed as the Good Lord intended them (i.e. letterpress); that mighty - I've never seen one so big - drop cap (below); a nice mix of coated and lovely pulpy uncoated paper and much more.
And look! A nice bit of centering.
So special thanks go to Russell. And thanks to Ben for passing on my address.
All contributions received with great thanks here.
I have an uncontrollable aversion to centring type. Yes, I do it occasionally, but more often than not, I just can't bring myself to centre. That's not to say I don't like a bit of type that someone else has centred. Like this, that I found "up there" last weekend, while trying to stop small children falling through the hatch (who takes a two year old into the loft?!).
It's kind of lovely and perfect don't you think?
Dated 1951 so it's feasible that the layout was left over from Tschichold's reign (1947-49), though don't quote me on that, I'm wildly speculating. Certainly it has a Tschichold perfection about it. Hans Schmoller then?