Tag Archives: PAC

Book series logo and first cover

I’ve researched some well know publishing series for inspiration on producing a consistent look and feel to my book covers for the PAC project… Penguin, Faber & Faber, New York Review of Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate and more… here’s my Visual Research.  I’ve decided to loosely follow Marber’s grid for Penguin but applied it to an A5 format.

I’m calling the Series Times Turnovers. This is a reference to a tradition at The Times when they would publish major articles starting in the last column of the right hand page and they would continue when the pages was “turned over”. When the paper was published in this way it became known as the Turnover Book.

The subject in the series will loosely follow the sections of the newspaper – News, Sport, Arts & Culture (i.e. society) – and I thought it would make sense to adopt the colours that the paper uses to signify these sections.

I’ve had a go at designing a logo which would be applied to the covers, based on the turnover theme. It really tested my Illustrator skills to do this page curl effect, and the first feedback I’ve had from my dear wife is that it “looks like a paper plane” and that maybe a straight edge, more like a fold, would be better… so more experimentation to come, but for the time being here’s the logo as applied to the 4 subjects and one without colour which will be applied to spines (the black background on the slideshow is not very helpful):

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I also did a logo which was more semantic typography than illustrated, which is below. I’m not convinced by this:

I’ve then brought this all together in a front cover for the Jim Laker cricket book discussed in my previous post. Here are a few iterations, the last one of which uses the logo as above (the others were done with the semantic logo).

Version 1                    Version 2                    Version 3


Version 4                    Version 5


Version 1 was criticised (again by my dear wife, who should know about these things as she’s a literary agent) as being too unclear. The quote was too dominant and it wouldn’t be clear what the book is about. I was rather pleased with my quote so wanted it to be large on the cover! I made is smaller in version 2 and increased the size of the title (and changed the title). I also look out the photo to see if that made any difference. It looks clean but possibly a bit dull. Changing the layout of the quote in version 3 helps, I think and with the photo in version 4 I think this works. Version 5 uses the branding I’ve been working on today. Looking at the thumbnails as I write this post, I think the layout is beginning to work. It’s still not right but I thought I’d put this out there before Friday so maybe I can get some feedback.  Thanks!


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Laker’s Test – 1956

At the heart of my PAC project – creating a collection of books using content from The Times Archive – is a re-interpretation of old news in a modern way. I do not just want to create a pastiche of historical newspapers – facsimiles of front pages, archive photography etc – particularly on the front cover. The collection itself will be sub-divided into subject categories which will be inspired by the areas covered by the newspaper but, more importantly, led by the subjects that the audience for these books will want to read about. One of the categories will be sport and I have highlighted a couple of old sporting tales that I am going to try to illustrate. The Test Match in 1956 when Jim Laker took 19 of the 20 Australian wickets is one. The Rumble in the Jungle – Ali’s title fight against Joe Frazier in 1974 which took place in Kinshasa in what was then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).

The headline above is hoe the final day of the Laker Test match was reported in The Times of the day, but a reproduction of that headline or something something like this cover of a book about the Test Match printed at the time, just wouldn’t be right:

Having read all the match reports, it is the final paragraph that sums up the achievement… “In Australia’s second innings he took 10 for 53, in the match 19 for 90, and yesterday 8 for 26 in 36 faultless overs. Surely there may never again be anything like it.” It’s this last one that signifies what this match meant, so I thought I’d try and design a cover based on this. To make it clear that it’s about cricket, I’ve taken inspiration from the classic cricket scoreboard – pre the digital age where numbers were made up of tiles of metal…

… and not the digital screens we see today:

And after several hours battling with Illustrator, here’s the result:

Let me know what you think!

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Cracks in the Pavement…

What a week… I’ve been trying all week to make some sense of my Structure and the City project and by yesterday was ready to climb into the nearest crack in the pavement as that’s where it seemed to be heading nowhere. However, after a good session with Scott in the printshop and some different analysis of my visual research material, I think I may have rescued it. I’m posting this here just because I need to record it somewhere. I don’t expect anyone to read it or comment – but feel free to do so if you wish! All feedback is appreciated.

So the visual analysis bit first… I tried classifying my images of the pavement into various typologies… What is it I was seeing?

I found grids…      I found dots…    I found rectangles…   I found arrows… 

and I found weird hieroglyphics that I had become somewhat obsessed with while out researching… 

But once I’d laid it all out on the table, I struggled to find a thread, a connection or something that would make a vaguely interesting publication…

Then it hit me… What I realised about the surface of our city is it’s a cesspit… Money and attention is lavished on the vertical – the buildings, the expensive advertising, signage etc – but when it comes to what’s under our feet it’s treated with no respect.

Paving slabs are cracked, we cover it gum… and those hieroglyphics I’d become obsessed about are an eyesore – while they serve some purpose (to notify those who dig up the roads where the pipes are – although that doesn’t seem to stop burst water mains) – they still seem to be there long after the work is done, or maybe the work just never gets done…

However, it’s not all gloomy… I found some bright spots in my research and this is what the publication will be about: that, while most of the city’s surface is a mess, there are some examples of where it is being used to enhance the environment in both an aesthetic and functional way. The two examples I will use are:

The new layouts of Exhibition Road  and Oxford Circus 

And Ben Wilson, the chewing gum artist who I was lucky enough to track working in a secret location yesterday….

And where did Tony in the printshop help? Well, I took a dummy to him yesterday that I’d made of the publication – the content was slightly different from how I know envisage it. I’d included colour images and a fancy throw-out (folding out centrefold) as a “big reveal”. I learned more about paper size, page layout and the economics of printing in half an hour with Tony than I could image I would. He also gave me some great ideas about the cover and how that would impact on the design.

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Structure and the City – Look at your feet!

I came to Friday’s session with a clear idea of my area of research, only for Tony to suggest a bunch of other great ideas to all of us… Numbering the City was what he suggested to me, and that sent my mind thinking along many different lines – post codes, bus routes, house numbers, floor numbers, buildings named by numbers (No. 1 London, for example) – but I still kept coming back to my first thought, which I hope I communicated to you all on Friday…

My premise is this… we are told to “look up” to see the unexpected (click on the image)…

… and to look ahead or suffer the consequences…

… but what do we learn from looking down?

There is communication at surface level throughout the city, some of which serves a useful purpose…

… and some of which serves no purpose at all…

I’d like to explore communication in the city on this horizontal plane to see what there is and how effective it is… A secondary question that I hope my research might uncover is how much can we tell about where we are from looking down?

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Lines from curves and City Hall

When I visited City Hall yesterday, I took a look inside. In much the same way as Tate Modern is all straight lines – referencing the structure of the building – City Hall is more about curves…

Thinking again about whether these curves could actually be a series of lines, I experimented with the curved wall, drawing in Illustrator using different stroke weights for the lines, from 2pt up to 40pt to see if this showed something about the point where the curve disappears… As is the theme for today, here’s an animation

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Westfield Shepherds Bush

Inspired by City Hall??

20120201-031921 PM.jpg    20120201-031947 PM.jpg

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Malevich to Kounellis…

Malevich was the founder of the Suprematist movement whose aim was the “lend supremacy to the basic means of art, colour and form, over the mere depiction of phenomena in the visible world” [Art of the 20th Century Ruhberg et al, Taschen]. The work Dynamic Suprematism at the Tate is dated “1915/1916” and is a clear use of basic visual grammar – squares, lines, rectangles, dots – the most extreme examples of which Malevich produced being Black Square on a White Ground (1913), Black Circle (1913) and White on White (1917)…


… which forms are reflected in the Kounellis piece, Untitled…


Malevich is also credited as being one of the first artists to appreciate the expressive nature of empty space, which is very clear in the Dynamic Suprematism piece…

And this becomes even clearer when you learn that he had been flying, not that common in the early 20th Century… A direct influence on Russian poster design on the 1920s…

A connection between Malevich and Calder also becomes clearer following this further research. You can see the influence of the pure forms of Malevich in the Calder piece, which is also reflected in this piece by Velzeley:

So where is this stream of consciousness leading… I’m not sure, other than it’s made me more aware of the open space and a greater appreciation of the visual language we have been studying that will inform some experimentation soon…

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Tate Modern Structure…

Everywhere you look at the Tate Modern there appears to be a grid or formal structure. As Susannah has very clearly shown on her blog the building itself is of a very simple, symmetrical design which can be reduced to rectangles and lines. This is then reflected throughout the building which appears to have no organic forms within it. It’s all straight lines… from the turbine hall, which is this vast tunnel that draws you into the building, to the flooring, the lighting and even the staircases. The are all arranged at right angles…


This structure gives the Tate its physical identity and so, not surprisingly, it has been carried through into the gallery itself in the signage, the cloakroom layout, the way the shop is laid out and the layout of posters, for example…


Clearly the architects worked with the structure of the building when they designed the conversion. Indeed, as it says on the Tate website (“The final choice [of architects] was Herzog and De Meuron, a relatively small and then little known Swiss firm. A key factor in this choice was that their proposal retained much of the essential character of the building.”).

I’ve not yet done the research around the City Hall area but I know the building at it has a very different form from Tate Modern. It’s a curvaceous building with a structure made from panes of triangular glass that the architects, Foster & Partners, have made somewhat a “house style”. They are also responsible for the Gherkin and the Great Court at the British Museum.


So maybe in the way that it has been possible to classify the pictures according to simple, complex and random structures it is possible to do the same with buildings… Some more “random” looking buildings might include the Guggenheim in Bilbao (Frank Gehry), or the works of Gaudi in Barcelona:



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Tate Pictures… Random (or no?) structure

And here are a few that I think have no formal structure… although the piece by Vezeley (top right) is reminiscent of Malevich where there is more research needed…

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