Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Student Book Design Work

Half title page design by Courtney Comfort for his book, The War of the Worlds

Title Page design by Courtney Comfort, The War of the Worlds. 

Title page spread by Dru Santiago for Down & Out in Paris and London.

Interior jacket flap with hand lettering by Dru Santiago,  Down & Out in Paris and London.

Title page spread by Mike Decky for Charles Bukowski's Post Office.

Table of Contents by Mike Decky for Charles Bukowski's Post Office.

Letterpressed bookcloth and binding design by Nevena Stoeva for Dandelion Wine.

Silkscreened cover on blank boards with spine cloth, designed by Nicole Gutierrez for The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Interior text page and footer by Nicole Gutierrez for The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Chapter opening and illustration by Rebecca Shapiro for Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths.

Table of Contents design by Joe Ucello for HP Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep. These pages are not yet sewn.

Chapter opening design by Joe Ucello for HP Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep. 

Interior page spread design by Joe Ucello for HP Lovecraft's Nyarlathotep. 

Above are sneak preview photos of students' recently handbound books. These books do not have the dust jackets on them yet so I will add more professional photos later when they are completed. Please check out my flickr page for additional photos of these and other books. I hope to upload more in the near future.
       With the future of book publishing somewhat in question these days, I consider myself very fortunate to teach a traditional book design course to 2nd year design students at a community college. It is actually an advanced typography course designed to teach lessons for managing and manipulating text in long documents. Students are assigned the task to reformat a text of their choice in it's entirety, using Adobe InDesign CS5. They most often acquire the text for their books at public domain websites or do an OCR scan (which is much less optimal). Most choose favorite novels, but I have had students design their own cookbooks, personal poetry, unpublished author's work and even a handbook for coffee baristas in the past. My own task is to provide students with a broad focus of 500 years of book design and tradition. I brief them on terminology, specific components of the book and dust jacket, the essentials of font legibility vs. readability, and all of the ideals and intricacies of page layout. We have also had some very lively discussions on the future of the book format, as I think we all find this very intriguing. In addition to my class, students take an advanced InDesign class to assist them with the production of their books. In the end, they each reformat their text, illustrate it (or photographs), print it, and hand bind them in an edition of two—one for themselves and one for our school.
       Since I began teaching this class in 2006, my students have consistently taken the top honors in Bookbuilders West—a scholarship program to foster emerging talent in book design for students in 13 Western states. I don't know if it is because there are so few schools teaching a book design program any longer or our students are just talented overachievers. Most likely, some of each and I am quite proud of them. Their books are a remarkable achievement and a centerpiece of their portfolio of work in the end. I am certain many of these students will never design another book in their career, but they do now have a better comprehension of how to manage and format text, choose fonts and design pages for print or screen. I believe book design to be an exceptional foundation course for any young graphic designer as it is teaches one to think about how we read.

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