In Vancouver we have a lovely bookshop called the Paper Hound, I like to visit their children's book section regularly, so when I heard that Sunny, which Judith Steedman and I designed was on their list of the best BC book designs of all time it was a nice surprise. Then, looking at the list I saw two of my designs, one from my student days: The Weather by Lisa Robertson. Ha! I remember moving those little white circles around for a long time, so concerned about getting it right. The other book was Owls See Clearly at Night, which I designed for Julie Flett for Simply Read Books.
Yesterday I held a small workshop on the Word festival in Vancouver, meeting with aspiring children's book authors. It was fun, hope to do it again next year. I couldn't take a good picture in the middle of everything, so no photo :)
Everyone had different projects, but I think two statements which applied to everyone were:
1. Identify the specific age range you're trying to reach (3–5 etc.)
2. Have a clear synopsis of your story
Most people are not sure where to begin a conversation about their project: the best way is to describe your audience, their needs, the main characters in the story and the story itself. Also, it's very helpful bring samples of your work with you. Good luck, everyone!
Just made a large honey cake and it turned out really well — here are my recipe notes before I forget:
· replaced 1 cup honey with 1/2 cup lemon infused honey + 1/4 cup plain honey + 1/4 cup ginger simple syrup
· replaced orange juice with lemonade
· replaced whiskey with Fentiman's ginger brew (ginger beer would be perfect)
· replaced coffee with chai
Kid-friendly version up on the windy blog
Oh my goodness! Two of my book designs were nominated for this year's best 50 Books / 50 Covers presented by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. I am genuinely very surprised about this. But here's to nice surprises.
I love Max Bill and I love Jan Tschichold. Generally, when I'm reading about historical debates between various Modernist avant-garde factions, if I'm honest, I'm often just rolling my eyes a little. Probably completely unfairly, I imagine them passionately arguing about the importance of the horizontal plane versus the diagonal over red wine while their wives are keeping an eye on dinner and the kids and sorting the socks. Yet, at the same time, it's such a privilege to take their ideas for granted. There's nothing I create that doesn't reference, borrow or build upon 20th century design.
Now, when it comes to the Swiss avant garde, I let them all off the hook. I am amazed every time at how beautifully the Swiss School analyzes type and space. Ernst Keller was successful in making "Swiss" a seal of quality, because when I see imitations on the internet, and there are a lot, there is a missing...something. Whatever sublime quality is evident when any object is crafted by a master.
I imagine the Swiss kept their passionate arguments very short, took notes, had a quick glass of water, and then hopped back to it at their desks (this is unsupported). So when I hear that Jan Tschichold, my favourite writer on the subject of typography and Max Bill, possibly my favourite Swiss School man got into it over the asymmetric (Bill) versus the symmetric (Tschichold), I am genuinely interested. The fight took place in the "Schweizer Graphiste Miteilungen" periodical on type in 1946. Jan Tschichold replied to a series of spreads published by Bill in the April issue with a layout of "Hafis", set classically, symmetrically, with a woodcut by Hans Arp in the June issue. He titled his reply "Belief and Reality". The pull that every designer feels, between the personal, the universal the theoretical and the practical, it's all in here.
Jost Hochuli and Robin Kinross, who detail the argument in "Designing Books", note that Bill supported his beliefs with catalogues and architectural layouts, while Tschichold, who had taken over at Penguin, supported his ideas with literary layouts. I think this points to the way in which what we design influences us. I rarely meet a book designer who is absolutist in their ideas and generally as a group we are pretty low key. As design positions go, it's a pretty humble one: most of the time your job is to keep your design underneath the material you're communicating.
Over these holidays I was really under the weather and consoled myself one day by watching Dolly Parton on YouTube. I used this list of her best 30 songs from the Telegraph, which was inspired by her performance at Glastonbury this year.
I thought of her after I heard Whitney Houston singing, "I Will Always Love You" in the doctor's waiting room on Christmas Eve (it is a real waiting room song, isn't it). I love the original, simpler version of the song by Dolly Parton from 1974, because it's so pretty and understated. It was written for the host of the show she's appearing on, Porter Wagoner, who introduces her at the beginning of the video. She wrote it as a way of thanking him but also confirming to him that she really wanted to leave his show and have a solo career. It wasn't a very amicable split, so the spirit of it is impressive to me. Update: My son is worried for me since hearing Dolly, saying, 'Mama, dad and I will have to teach you how to like good music. Like Mastodon. You like terrible music, Mama." OK, OK :)
The song is on the soundtrack of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, which I'd now like to watch again. Beautiful, clean poster.
happy birthday, little h.
While we were shooting the first 6 episodes of Windy, we suddenly needed a tiny spatula for one of the dolls (to flip pancakes). We had similar emergencies every hour or so :)
Anyway, our grip, Will, half owner of the great bike below, ducked out into the alley and made us this great spatula...cut out of a spoon. It is the best. I really miss seeing our crew every day, they were just great.
bike by Will and bandana by Melody
— at the Grant street studio during shooting for episodes 1 through 6 of Windy
I just received a lovely message that Julie Flett's web site is on its way — hooray! We were just talking about the endpapers for Wild Berries (which has been receiving awards and rave reviews all over the place) and I was so happy to see them again. Honestly, if I could have a job just designing end papers I'd jump at it. It's my favourite part of any book.
The Alcuin Society Awards for for Excellence in Book Design in Canada for 2014 were just announced. In the children's category, hundreds & thousands received first prize for how to by Julie Morstad and third prize for Wild Berries by Julie Flett. I'm grateful to the Alcuin Society for their support of Canadian book design and to both Julie and Julie who individually are each so talented and kind that it bowls me over on every project.
I've had a little sick kid at home for a few days and then it's nice to sit outside wrapped in a blanket and get some fresh air. It was pretty sweet this evening when he asked to go outside by explaining, "I'm lonely of the breeze." Anyway, he seems better at last.
Pierrot collar for Spring (a new Windy character) and some tiny hats. We shoot very soon. Yikes!
The last month or so, there have been loads of sweet limes at the market. I'm not sure if they were always around and I just didn't notice, or if there's a new importer in town (if that's how the fruit business works...). I had never tried these before, they sort of taste like sweet water with a slight essence of kaffir lime leaves. This salad, with soft baby spinach, fried tofu, fresh basil and pistachios was really good. Sort of mellow and juicy. It is also nice with curried almonds or seeds instead of pistachios.
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
— William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, 1923
mixing table in the ink lab, hemlock printers