Studio Visit to Four Corners Publishing

Richard Embray and Elinor Jansz of Four Corners Books.

As part of studio culture week, we visited Four Corners Books, a small independent art book publisher based near to our university. Company founders Richard Embray and Elinor Jansz do all of the publishing in-house whilst working with specific designers on specific books.

Elinor talking about their book on Sister Corita Kent

They walked us through some of the ins and outs of their jobs, talking about what factors govern the design decisions they make, from the choice of book cover to the materials used for the pages. Their body of work mostly falls into two categories: producing art history books and special illustrated editions of classic literature.  They had examples of both present, ranging from a bright yellow edition of Dracula to an art book on nun-cum-graphic designer Sister Corita Kent.

The Four Corner’s edition of Dracula, looming as large as its titular character

Having been graciously allowed working space within a Grade 1 listed building, they set up their office with computers for both of them, a few shelves for pertinent books and a large area which they used to show us examples of their work.

Four Corners Books’ take on literary classic The Picture of Dorian Grey

When asked how the workspace effected their workflow, they commented that they felt most of their inspiration and driving focus came from all the time they spent outside of their workspace, interacting with fellow design enthusiasts.

Richard and Elinor both made reference to keeping costs in mind when making any design decisions, trying to negotiate the best balance between ambitious and expensive ideas from the designers with the realities of cost and market viability. Richard accentuated the point by adding “We try to allow ourselves one extravagance per project. The important thing is that the reader is aware that the thing is extravagant, otherwise, we’ve spent the money for nothing.”

Richard talking about how one gets bang for one’s buck.

In regards to looking at their workspace with a mind to consider our studio setup, I draw the following conclusions: practicality is important; make sure your space accommodates your daily needs. Don’t be overly concerned with having ‘inspirational’ things lying around. It’s best to find inspiration outside of your workspace and bring it in with you.

Check out what Four Corners Books are up to here.




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