• Main

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow (detail)

Graphic Design

Publication: A celebration of the golden era of Russian children's book design

Posted by Rob Alderson,

A couple of weeks ago over on Creative Review, Jim Sutherland wrote a really interesting post about designers’ predilection for making children’s books. He suggested it was a way to let one’s visual imagination run wild in contrast with the daily grist of tightly prescribed identity work.

But what perhaps Jim didn’t explore was the importance of children’s books in the long term; we can learn a lot about a society by what they show to their youngsters. This point is illustrated perfectly in a new book by Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya called Inside The Rainbow: Russian Children’s Literature 1920-1935.

It includes more than 250 terrific examples of book design from this period, where the artists’ imaginations were allied with the rise of Suprematist and Futurist vernacular as well as certain socio-political pressures (although these were far less oppressive than in later Soviet years).

It’s a celebration of values not readily associated with Russian aesthetics – colour, vibrancy and charm – and a series of contemporary photographs which run throughout roots these titles in the real lives of their target readers.

  • Glebova-8

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Lissitzky-2

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

In his foreword author Phillip Pullman calls the collection “incomparably rich” and wonders: “What were they doing, these commissars and party secretaries, to allow this wonderland of modern art to grow under their very noses? I expect the rule that applies to children’s books was just as deeply interiorised in the Soviet Union as it has been in the rest of the world: they don’t matter. They can be ignored. They’re not serious.”

He adds: “For a few years Russian children’s books were free of the darkness that descended over the Soviet Union, and the light they shed, a lovely primary-coloured geometrical wonderland-light sparkling with every conceivable kind of wit and brilliance and fantasy and fun, is here in this book still.”

Inside the Rainbow published by Redstone Press is out on October 10.

  • Stommel-6

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Numbers-(cover)

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Naamloos-28

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • I'm-a-pressman003

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Habitat-(5)

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Dsc_02204

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Dsc_0043_1

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • Baradek

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • About-how-pioneer-gans-saved-strike-committee-(cover)

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

  • 10_1

    Julian Rothenstein and Olga Budashevskaya: Inside The Rainbow

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List

    Lotta Nieminen is one of those graphic designers who is able to creating a lasting impression with her work in spite of it often being incredibly subtle in its approach. In my opinion this goes above and beyond her colour palettes, though they often combine pastel shades with serene muted tones; rather her projects seem to be finished with a kind of nuanced subtlety that resonates long after you first see it.

  2. Main2

    Not much makes us as happy as a brilliant studio churning out spectacular work, but to find out each member is a fantastic designer in their own right is even better. Diogo Potes just got in touch to show us some of his personal work away from his day-to-day collaborative venture, Portuguese design studio Alva Alva. Diogo’s solo work boasts all of the vibrancy, sense of humour and love of hand-drawn elements that Alva Alva has, but also contains a good dollop of personal style. For me, I think his work is strongest when he incorporates photography into his designs – something about choosing off-the-wall shots and enveloping them in rich colours and bold typography is very, very pleasing. Nice work Diogo, keep it up!

  3. List

    Like their counterparts over at Unit Editions, the Viction:ary team has an unerring eye for putting together graphic design books that are a cut above the competition. This stems from their ability to select a theme that is relevant and interesting and (crucially) identify the right creatives to showcase in exploring that subject.

  4. Wadelist

    When showing off a new typeface, most designers opt for the go-to panagram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” On one of the promotional posters for his new font Hardy, Wade Jeffree has plumped for “It’s too easy being a c**t.” In other words, this is a typeface with attitude.

  5. List

    20 years ago in 1994, little known designer Eike König set up his “graphic design playground” Hort, creating a community in the centre of Berlin where creatives could collaborate on ideas and client briefs side by side. Nowadays, the playground is slightly bigger, undertaking work for Nike, The New York Times and Walt Disney among others, but the underlying emphasis on collaboration and experimentation remains exactly the same.

  6. Main

    Political, powerful and poignant (although not always all at the same time), Abram Games’ work earned him a place as one of the 20th Century’s most iconic and influential graphic designers. Notoriously, one of his posters was banned by Churchill in post-war Britain and, although he crafted advertising for the Times, Transport for London and Guinness, his most impactful work was created for noble causes. During the Second World War he designed hundreds of recruitment posters and images discouraging waste, with slogans like “Use Spades, Not Ships” and bold dynamic graphics.

  7. Andrealist

    Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest to pull off, but that is precisely what Andrea Evangelista’s graphic design achieves with quiet aplomb. I imagine most young creatives would quail at the notion of designing a book titled Trafficking Survivor Care Standards, but Andrea’s work is confident and careful, lending the text the clarity it demands. He lets the content sit in plenty of white space inside its buttercup cover, resisting the temptation to chuck in a bunch of pretty images.

  8. List

    As newspapers change, so the meaning, placement and purpose of their mastheads change too. This archive of Indian newspaper nameplates is therefore a celebration of the beauty and communicative skill that goes into them, and a snapshot of the contemporary news media in the sub-continent – see how the odd editorial email address crops up alongside some pretty historic type treatments. The collection has been compiled by Pooja Saxena, a Bangalore-based type designer who previously worked in Apple’s font team and studied at Reading University’s world-leading Type Design and Graphic Communication school.

  9. List

    Here at It’s Nice That we’re very aware of how often we cover certain creatives on the site, and we constantly make time to search out talented practitioners we don’t know as well as feting the latest work of those we do.

  10. List

    Every year during graduate season we sift our way through an enormous number of grad show identities. It’s arguably one of the trickiest briefs for a young student; creating a comprehensive identity for a showcase of upwards of 100 creatives’ work – all of them with different styles and concerns. Some of what we see is excellent, but many seem to struggle under the pressure of pleasing their peers.

  11. List

    Creating a visual identity to capture an aural experience seems like a near impossible task, let alone when the music is as lustrous and strange as Amy Kohn’s, but Non-Format have succeeded gracefully with their work for her new album PlexiLusso. The USA and Oslo-based team manipulated original photography by Merri Cyr to recreate the ethereal quality of her music, conjuring up a glass-like aesthetic with a hint of abstract surrealism in the form of floating boulders and rippling waves. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is all conceptual nonsense though; they’ve also made an original typeface to mimic the sonorous melodies, using disconnected arcs which resemble the notation of quavers and clefs laid out on the stave, as in sheet music. It’s an oddly alluring combination which creates an impression of Amy’s music before you’ve even pressed play.

  12. List

    Some cracking work here from our friends at Studio Makgill with this beautiful Specials Applied book for our other pals at G . F Smith. The paper company has an unerring knack of working with some of the best design studios around – whether that’s Hamish and his team or the ongoing partnership with Made Thought – and the quality of their promotional material is testament to the importance of creative, collaborative working relationships. This book showcases G . F Smith’s more unusual stocks and through a clever use of cut-outs we’re taken on a journey through a selection of interesting samples.

  13. List

    We’ve long maintained that to really get to know how a creative’s mind works, it’s best to explore their personal work, which often tells you much more than their professional portfolio. Another good example of this comes from London-based identity designer Iancu Barbarasa, who works under the name Iancul, and his terrific new Drawriting project, which “turns thoughts and their letters into visual puzzles.”