Work / Graphic Design

Designer Joe Gilmore’s investigative approach to book design

Designer Joe Gilmore creates typographically-led work for various print and digital projects. His bread and butter is book and cover design and Joe is interested in “the ways in which one can approach the design of making a book”. When designing he considers how readers navigate a book, how it’s read and used.

“I’m also fascinated by the interplay between content and form, how text, image materials and finishing work together to form a whole experience,” Joe explains. “One aspect of my practice is concerned with how books exist in relation to other books, how they contain, reference and reflect each other, how together they form collections, categories and archives.”

Recent projects includes two books for Timothy Taylor, a book for Eddie Martinez titled Sculptures and a book of Alex Katz’ drawings. A stand-out piece of work is Sigla, which forms part of Joe’s personal practice and is more investigative of the book form. For Joe this work is often inspired by the author James Joyce and his awareness of the relationship between his writing and the physical, published book.

“In Finnegans Wake, Joyce generated his own typographic system, a series of symbols and letterforms which he called ‘sigla’,” says Joe. “Through my two books, Sigla and Sigla Addendum, I explore the meaning of these glyphs and how they relate to each other. I am interested in how the sigla operate somewhat ambiguously between logogram and alphabetic letterform.” Adopting a clean colour palette of green, red and white, the design is pared back and pushes what a book can really be.


Joe Gilmore: Sigla Addendum

Another ongoing project is Void(), a series of books that explore the idea that “topology and the printed surface of a book can be considered a non-linear surface”. In the second book, published by Catalogue Library, found images have been arranged cross two unconnected pages in relation to two patterns of organisation and overprinted in two colours. “These projects blur the distinction for me between the practice of book design and book arts,” says Joe.  

In regards to his process Joe works closely with who he’s designing the book for, whether that’s an artist, curator or gallery. “It is important to understand the work, its context and to then decide which aspects are integral to the understanding of the work as seen through design,” Joe explains. “I suppose most of the time my process is quite a usual graphic design process (i.e. research, development, refinement). But my process is probably subjectively affected by the way I think about design as a series of stratagems or systems of organisation.”


Joe Gilmore: Sensory Systems


Joe Gilmore: Kim Fisher, A Little Bit of But


Joe Gilmore: Haroon Mirza, A User’s Manual


Joe Gilmore: Ge-stell


Joe Gilmore: Ge-stell


Joe Gilmore: Gay Areas Telephone Directory


Joe Gilmore: Tabua Auerbach Folds


Joe Gilmore: Sculptures


Joe Gilmore: An Individual Note of Music, Sound and Electronics


Joe Gilmore


Joe Gilmore: Void