Saturday, June 11, 2011

Student Book Reports

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. Redesign by Stacey Rozich.

It always gives me great pleasure to display some of my student's book design work each year. This is my 5th year of teaching this typography course where students reformat a book of their choice and interpret the author's narrative by designing a new book from front to back cover. They learn principles of micro and macro typography, hierarchy and contrast, navigation, font selection, readability, legibility, the traditions of book design, and skills for managing long documents in InDesign. I can't teach all of this alone in one quarter and a tremendous shout out goes to the irrepressible Chris Sullivan for teaching InDesign II in conjunction with my course and suffering through all the endless production questions. Chris teaches several pre-press classes in our endangered Publishing Art program at the Seattle Central Creative Academy and has been an indispensable asset to our students and staff over the years. Ultra fine artist Claire Cowie has been teaching the illustration class where she assists them with the interior illustrations for their books. And I don't know what I would do without the assistance of professional bookbinder Bonnie Thompson Norman who teaches workshops in sewing signatures and casing-in books each year. Many of my past students have designed stunning portfolio cases after learning basic bookbinding skills from Bonnie. 
       It has been my good fortune these past 5 years, to teach in a very intensive 2 year community college design program which still values book design. It is a legacy class I inherited and one of the few of it's kind in the nation which has received continued support to date. As an advanced typography course, no other can compare to the challenges faced when designing a book. There is a rich heritage and history of book design which takes us back over 500 years, and now, as we face a current evolution in the industry, we need to adapt and continue to train students for these new processes. In the end, the typography principles remain much the same—for print, web or for ePub devices. I just hope we don't have to wait another 500 years for the ePub devices to match the quality and readability of the book. 
       It is so wonderful to see what books the students choose to redesign each year. Out of 47 students, I had 2 students choose the work of Jorge Luis Borges, 3 H.P. Lovecraft, 2 Kafka's and 2 Bukowski's. Most all of them are very passionate about their choices and care deeply about their design and illustration work. I have had students land book design internships with publishers such as Taschen Books in Los Angeles, acquire positions as book designers with numerous book packagers and publishers, receive independent book design contracts and for the past five years they have consistently won the top awards in the Bay Area's Bookbuilders West scholarship program where students compete from 13 Western states. (This years' scholarship winners will be announced in the very near future). 
       This post is a follow-up to the book report I made back in February on other book work from my class this year. Below are a number of books from this year's group. Credits and portfolio links are provided in the captions below each set of students' books. I will be posting a few more impressive books from students before the Portfolio Show in coming days so please stay tuned. Meanwhile enjoy this set of gems.

H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu. Design and illustration by Kevin Cox.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Design & illustration by Nevena Stoeva. Nevena also letterpressed her book case on the spine and front cover.

George Orwell's Down & Out in Paris and London. Design by Dru Santiago. See more interior images of this book on my previous post
Rijuta Trivedi's design of Heavy Weather by P.G. Wodehouse with trompe l'oeil image of folded signatures on the cover's spine.
Charles Bukowski's Post Office. Design by Michael Deckys. See more interior images of this book on my previous post.

Christopher Olsen's interpretation of Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. Christopher is a passionate student of Borges' writing.


  1. Really interesting to see the student work - tho you can't tell it is student work! Particularly like the H.P. Lovecraft cover by Kevin Cox. Simple yet you'd have to pick it and look inside. You can't ask better of a book jacket.

  2. That means a lot coming from you. Thanks for sharing S.A.!


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