Without wishing to hoot our own vuvuzelas, last night’s Nicer Tuesdays was really quite something. Educational, fascinating, powerful and at times, very very sweary, we heard from three speakers who are experts in design and this month’s theme, Books. But all the effing and jeffing in the world couldn’t detract from how superb Sarah Boris, Craig Oldham and David Pearson are at their craft, and at storytelling.
First up was Sarah, a London-based graphic designer, art director and artist who now runs her own practice having worked as Phaidon Pvx,ress’ art director until February this year. She talked us through recent projects including her brilliant designs for the ICA’s Rhythm Section book – beautifully done, despite the organisations initially saying they didn’t want to create a printed book at all. It aims to create the feeling of an animation, the perfect fit for the collection of writings by journalists for difficult-and-weird-music mag Wire. We saw Phaidon designs including those for the collection of works by French illustrator Sempé and Tomi Ungerer. Sarah also related the fascinating (and perhaps slightly frustrating) story of designing the cover for an English reprint of a Larousse book about bread. There were many, many back-and-forths about how many loaves to feature on the front, but judging by the final designs, the laborious design process was more than worth it.
From bread-worthy typography to politics: next up was Craig Oldham, whose sweary and superbly powerful delivery of the story of his very personal project In Loving Memory of Work had us openmouthed and humbled. The Manchester-based designer’s book examines the UK miners’ strike of 1984-85 through a graphics-focused lens, showcasing the superb designs of badges, placards and posters that have been woefully overlooked. Craig’s impassioned talk came straight from the heart: his father, who we see in a poignant video, was on strike for an entire year, and was arrested during a peaceful protest to fight for his and thousands of other mens’ jobs. Managing to merge politics and the importance of graphic design sensibilities, Craig’s talk used hundreds of “fucks” to explain how he created a new typefaces from the hand-drawn letters of the strikers, and how a “brave” printer created covers using real coal dust.
Our final speaker David Pearson conveyed an equal amount of passion in his fascinating talk about book design. Over his career David has created numerous designs for Penguin, and his adoration of not just the brand but the power a designer has in creating a supremely smart, evocative design hasn’t faded yet. He took us through what’s most important in designing, from “speed” – it’s important to take your time, the unashamed perfectionist tells us, but a hastily created cover can also convey a thrilling amount of energy – to the importance of space. It’s wonderful to see how diverse the colours, typefaces and little penguin graphics were in the early days of the publisher; and to get an insight to David’s meticulous process, including printing the cover for Cormac McCarthy’s The Road using oil, water and a traditional printing press. Seeing his passion for book design and the stunning results it yields, it’s little surprise that David’s career has been as impressive as it is.
Founded in 1991, Park Communications is considered by many to be London’s preeminent printer. With a roster of both corporate and cultural clients, Park is a one-stop-shop to translate, artwork, print and bind literature of many different kinds, from the finest coffee table books and catalogues, through FTSE annual reports, to niche market magazines and brochures. Working closely with clients to develop bespoke creative solutions, Park’s reputation is built on the highest quality, reliability and flexibility.
They have brought their professionalism to both our Printed Pages magazine and the It’s Nice That Annual 2014, and we look forward to working with them in 2015 and beyond. To contact Park, email Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the www.parkcom.co.uk.
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.