Project. Book Design.
Purpose. To learn the traditional
parts and aspects of book design. To continue to refine typographic
sensibilities as they pertain to detail, harmonious relationship
of type to space, and the “finer points” of typesetting.
To consider the relationship between content and page size, proportion,
grid and margins. To learn to work with multiple pages in a single
complex linked document in InDesign. To work within and to become
familiar with the conventions of book design. To carefully and
intelligently break convention by allowing typography to express,
through type treatment and unconventional arrangements, a conceptual
point of view. To make a visually dynamic, intellectually challenging
typographic interpretation of the relationship between two (or
more) typographic voices/styles/messages. To use all the knowledge
you have acquired this semester to make an advanced final project.
Assignment. The last major assignment
for a sophomore class. The goal of this project is to design, typeset,
and bind a hardcover book which combines at least two different
texts, allowing the student to experiment with the relationships
between typographic form and verbal meaning. However, key to this
assignment is to do so within the limitations and conventions of “good
typography.” That is to say, careful attention must be paid
to all details of letter and line spacing, overall page proportion,
and visual harmony. Consonance and dissonance must be under the
student’s control; texture and pacing must be attended to;
and of course meaning and concept must be carefully considered.
We proceed in the following sequence:
1. Students choose one of
the two assigned texts. This year we used Pynchon’s The Crying
of Lot 49 or Marguerite Duras’ Writing.
They are given a plain text file and must come to class with the
text set in a readable format, exploring page size, margin size,
point size and leading. Typefaces are limited to those we have
been using all semester (Caslon, Bembo, Garamond, Univers, Franklin
2. Once the typeface, trim size and point size is
resolved, students must chose a second text to accompany the primary
text should serve as commentary, support, refutation, elaboration
etc. It can even be somewhat random as long as the student works
out a way to use it deliberately and intelligently to activate
the primary text. Simply put, there ought to be a point. In the
past I have seen everything from Yellow Pages ads to Walt Whitman
3. Students must include /invent:
Major heads, Minor heads
Running heads (or feet) + Folios
Call outs (optional)
The book must also contain the following: Half title page, Title
page, Copyright page, Contents page, Chapter openers, and Colophon.
Once students have completed the initial formatting of the entire
text, they phase in the second voice (their chosen text) with deliberate
intent. Using typographic design, they can co-opt, subvert or in
some way affect the primary text through the addition of this second
voice which (for example) could sneak in, or enter explosively,
or appear clearly but quietly. Consideration is given to how the
second text emerges. Students must think of the parts of the book
that might serve their needs conceptually. Throughout the whole
project, the focus is on typographic texture, harmony or deliberate
disharmony, pacing of the pages, and the relationship between the
main primary essay, and the secondary text. How can meaning be
affected by all the variables available to work with. How can this
text be “re-authored”?
5. Mid-project we have a workshop
on bookbinding. Students learn the fine art of (im)perfect binding,
a good though non-archival
form of presentation binding. They are given about one week to
finish production on their books and in the end all students make
a hard cover, cloth bound book.
This project is ultimately about
the parts of a book, the legibility of pages, the conceptual and
typographic possibilities of combining
two texts, and “authoring” a book through design and
typography. Students are encouraged to take risks. Be imaginative.
Creative. Controlled. Elegant. Wild. At once. CHALLENGE convention,
and do it well... Images are only allowed at the discretion of
Readings: Robert Bringhurst The Elements of Typographic
Style; Carl Dair Design with Type; various articles copied from
Format. 5 1/2" X
8 1/4" (14 X 21 centimeters) From 50 to 150 pages in length.
Time. Six weeks, twice a week.