Designing an artist’s book...
“I want someone who will design my book, not their book”…
When I’m designing something about art, I like to let the art breathe. Like a skilfully-tailored garment, it’s all about the structure, the fit and the choice of materials.
When an artist wants to inform a book, that quiet approach is applied to the project itself. Options, discussions, tests, costings, reviews – it’s a longer process than a project where the creative work is designer-led.
Alongside its exhibition, the book Seeing Changes shows a project by artist-photographer JC Candanedo with students and staff at Waltham Forest College taking part in a Prince’s Trust programme. It brings together people, place and discovery – portraits taken with an Ensign film camera once produced down the road, analogue photography skills (with the added unpredictability of working with a vintage camera), and self-expression via writing on film, each participant adding words to someone else’s portrait. Some statements are complete; others not; many speak of the insight and hope felt by participants as they move through challenge to opportunity.
The book takes its 10 x 8 inch format, simple materials and glassine envelope and photoprint box packaging from the industrial history in the project.
The image layout gives the participants shown equal emphasis and in its stillness, highlights the movement in and differences between the portraits.
All the way through the project, from materials and binding through print process, suppliers and quantity we have looked for the best balance between technical and creative requirements and environmental impact.
Production has had its own challenges in supply and behaviour of materials and machinery. That’s where decades of experience and knowledge come into a project’s problem-solving, and the good fortune to have worked my rookie years at companies that made designers see their print projects on press.
Will people notice the design? Probably not, and that’s exactly as it should be. It’s JC’s book. If people read the words and look at the images, my work is done.
Read more about the project here.