• Visualeditions_8
  • Visualeditions_7
  • Visualeditions_6
  • Visual_editions5
  • Visualeditions_4
  • Visualeditions_3
  • Visualeditions_2
  • Visualeditions_1
  • Visualeditions_9
  • Visualeditions_10
  • Visualeditions_11
Graphic Design

Visual Editions

Posted by Will Hudson,

London-based book publisher, Visual Editions, started early last year by Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen have just launched their first title The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne. Sharing a love of books and a (mischievous) desire to do things differently, Visual Editions want to offer a new experience for their readers and writers.

To quote their site, “What we do is make sure we turn all that love and mischief into beautifully, lovingly, wonderfully written and crafted books”. Having seen a copy of their first book last week we knew we had to find out more about one of the most exciting publishing companies to emerge in recent years.

Hi Britt, Visual Editions is all about something you call ‘Visual Writing’, what does that mean?

Visual writing is our starting point. As a term, it’s something we made up, but as an idea, there’s a rich literary heritage of this kind of writing. Here’s how we like to think about it: it’s about writing that uses visuals as a way to help tell a story. Those visuals could be something simple like a crossed out word, or it could be something not so simple like a page with words die-cut out of the page. We think now, more than ever before, people are reading differently. We’re more visually literate than ever before, so we wanted to publish books and experiences that embrace that: where both the visuals and the words on the page feed into one another.

Your first book, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is out now, tell us more about the book…


Tristram Shandy was first published in nine volumes in the late 18th century by Yorkshire-man, Laurence Sterne. The book is completely bonkers: it’s full of digressions, meanderings and is visually rich (with astericks, dashes, illustrations and a marbled page). The sad thing is the book has come out in so many different editions since it was first published, that it’s completely lost its magic and playfulness along the way. So what we wanted to do was to dust it down from its shoddy Dover classics and make the book relevant and contemporary again. We did that by exaggerating some of those visual elements, while also introducing new ones, all the while staying faithful to the book’s original spirit.



The attention to detail in the design and production of it is first class, how have the designers and printers reacted to what you’re trying to do?



We worked closely with the wonderful APFEL who embraced the design of this book with all the care and thoughtfullness it deserved. They were "first class" in bringing new ideas to the book (the folded page for a "shut door", is one of our favourites) without ever being decorative or gimmicky. As for the printers, we ended up working with a Chinese printer, who were great and made the hand-finishings not only possible, but affordable. Our hope is that all of our books will be read (not put behind prestine glass cabinets) and that they are priced in a democratic way.



You don’t have to look very hard to find articles on the death of print and publishing companies having a hard time of it, what makes you think Visual Editions will be any different?


The thing is, we don’t know what the future of publishing is going to be. No one does. But we’ve given this a lot of thought and our answer comes in two (related) parts. First thing is, we think there’s a place for Kindle. Tescos 3 for 2 disposable holiday books should and will live on Kindle. But we also think that for a book to merit being printed, there’s got to be something about that experience that can only live on the page. Our second book, by Jonathan Safran Foer, is completely die-cut. It’s a paperback book on the outside, that when opened, is a sculptural object. A sculptural object that has a story, that you can read. That kind of tactile, sensory experience you just can’t replicate on the screen. The second part of our answer, though, is this. We keep thinking of our books as more than just objects, we think of them as experiences. And every book we publish is a different experience. So it may well be that one of our books in the future will live better on the screen than on the page. Watch this space.

What can we expect from Visual Editions in the future?

After Shandy we have Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer (as mentioned above). Our third book is a book in a box. It’s called Composition No.1 and it was first published in the early sixties. It’s literally loose pages that come in a box, that you can read in any order. We’re also working on another book with Jonathan Safran Foer and a collection of short stories by an emerging writer, Seonaid MacKay. Our ethos is this: as long as the book is a great looking story, in whatever shape or guise, and as long as we (our writers, our designers and even our printers) have fun making them, then we’re up for it.

Visual Editions first title, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne is available to buy through the It’s Nice That shop, for more details please visit www.itsnicethat.com/shop

Wh-300

Posted by Will Hudson

Will founded It’s Nice That in 2007 and is now director of the company. Once one of the main contributors to the site he has stepped back from writing as the business has expanded. He is a regular guest on the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Emptyfilmposters-itsnicethat-list

    Sure this isn’t the kind of thing we usually post, but the sun’s all blazing and glorious outside our windows today, so we thought we’d be kind and give you something to stare at for the next few hours until it’s time to make your way to the closest beer garden available. You know what these images are don’t you? They’re iconic film posters with all traces of branding and characters removed – the bench without Forrest, a sunset with Simba removed and a deep blue sub-aquatic fade that’s one shark short of of a multi-million dollar blockbuster franchise. These posters are the result of hours of hard photoshopping by French art director Madani Bendjellal, and for making our afternoon pass that little bit faster we owe him our thanks. Thanks!

  2. Faber-modern-classics-itsnicethat-.list

    A couple of months ago, we spoke to a number of book designers about whether they felt you had to read a book to design its cover. Whichever camp you sit in, it’s clear that with something as powerful and evocative as a piece of literature, summing up complex and emotive ideas in a single cover is no mean feat, so we were keen to hear more about how the process worked when designing for Faber’s new series of modern classics. The series launches this week with ten books including Look Back in Anger by John Osborne, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, TS Eliot’s Selected Poems and Self-Help by Lorrie Moore. A further six titles are to be released in June.

  3. Production-type-itsnicethat-list

    It seems to me that half the job when you work at a type foundry is finding the best way to showcase your wares. In an industry now bubbling with interactive websites, weird apps and even the occasional trailer, typeface specimens are an old fashioned means, but as Paris-based digital foundry Production Type proves, they’re often the best.

  4. I-give-an-xpentagram-itsnicethatlist

    Where an “x” was once a kiss, it’s now something rather different – a mark that signifies your voice in the election. This little but very powerful symbol is at the heart of a new non-partisan project by Pentagram, I Give an X, which saw Marina Willer and the team create hundreds of different x marks which they hope people will use as their online profile picture.

  5. Wardheirwegh_itsnicethat-list

    Some graphic design projects seem straightforward; a lovely foil, and Bob’s your uncle! Others demand a bit more attention, however, and for those we call in the likes of Ward Heirwegh. Based in Antwerp, Ward specialises in design for exhibitions, translating complex, abstract concepts into coherent, understandable printed accompaniments. In my opinion this branch of design requires a very specific and quite elusive skill for compressing and transforming information.

  6. Hightide-itsnicethat-list

    If there’s one thing New York design studio High Tide knows well, it’s how to brand a luxury startup. Danny Miller and his team have worked with brands like Warby Parker since they were just a glint in the lens of their founder’s spectacles, then subsequently with all manner of high-flying fashion brands. As a rule they opt for effortless minimalism, but the selection of work below demonstrates the studio’s tailored approach to every new client they take on, whether it’s footwear or fragrance they’re peddling.

  7. List-innocent-sorcerers-image006

    Posters for Polish film never fail to excite; the strange, b-movie quality they have, the bold cut-and-paste aesthetic and the unabashed melodrama make them utterly captivating. So it’s always exciting when Kinoteka Festival rolls around in London, not just to have a chance to see the movies the posters promote, but because of the ace satellite shows of Polish cinema visual ephemera. This year, the festival boasts an exhibition of posters for director Andrzej Wajda’s films. As well as work by Polish artists, international designers such as Peter Strausfeld, Dominique Guillotin, Otto Kummert, Milan Grygar and Erhard Grutter all have posters on show. It’s a gorgeous spread of work, all on loan from the archives of the Film Museum in Lódź.

  8. List-respect_byd_ad-itsnicethat

    D&AD has commissioned a rather playful campaign to promote 2015’s Judging Week, created by design agency The Oldham Goddard Experience and illustrator Marion Deuchars. Marion’s signature off-kilter typographic approach makes a great counterpart to the instantly recognisable black and yellow of the D&AD brand, used across a number of tongue-in-cheek slogans. All in all, it’s a simple, smart and effective solution to what must be a rather daunting brief.

  9. Milton-list

    “I knew that I was obsessed with drawing as a child, and that it was a source of my greatest pleasure. There was nothing else I would prefer doing than drawing. Actually that is persistent to this very day.” So begins The New York Times’ short film looking at the spectacular life and career of Milton Glaser, and if this wonderful clip doesn’t restore your faith in design (and in the same amount of time you’d spend making a coffee, too!) then I don’t know what will.

  10. Atelier25-vagamodes-itsnicethat-list

    Sunny graphic design for a bright Monday morning? Consider it done. Atelier 25 are a Parisian pair of designers – Capucine Merkenbrack Tercé and Chloe – making work for cultural institutes, festivals, record labels and publishers; always with an emphasis on strong conceptual foundations. The duo take a hands-on approach to their practice, often working in physical media instead of heading straight to the computer. This leads to some seriously tactile results and projects often bear the marks of the process that spawned them. This is particularly true in their work for Vagamondes festival, where a moiré of intersecting diagonals is layered colour by colour, highlighting the physical process of lithographic printing.

  11. Cooperhewitt-howposterswork-itsnicethat-list

    We feature a fair amount of poster deign here on It’s Nice That but in the pell-mell rush for aesthetic appreciation it’s rare to take time out to consider how this particular design discipline works. Luckily the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York has forced our hand with its new show How Posters Work. Displaying 125 of the museum’s 4,000-strong collection, the aim of the exhibition is to illustrate how poster designers go about maximising the potential of the medium.

  12. Secret7-itsnicethat-list

    The annual Secret 7” show is always eagerly anticipated and this year’s exhibition – which opens today at Somerset House in London – looks like it lives up to our high expectations once again. The brainchild of Kevin King, the format’s success is tied to its simplicity with seven tracks from seven well-known musicians offered up to creatives from around the world. This year’s songs include Underworld’s Born Slippy, Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, The Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers and St Vincent’s Digital Witness and the artists and designers taking part range from big names to young talents. For the time being whose sleeve is whose is kept under wraps, but we’ve spotted a few styles that we can immediately identify. After the show all the sleeves will be sold off for the same price with proceeds going to music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins.

  13. List

    South Korean creative Bohuy Kim splits his time between filmmaking and graphic design. Having trained in film, TV and media at the Sungkyunkwan university in Seoul he’s now the proprietor of his own studio, Printlab where he produces visually arresting work for the likes of Samsung, KIA and local creative enterprises. His impressive portfolio is the result of “rigorous creative exploration,” and, let’s face it, a great sense of colour.