Book Research

In an attempt to get students away from creating single flat images, we were invited to look at some archival materials. Examples of artists book, specifically. They were stored in a separate library from all the normal books. This place was operating on more of a British Library kind of vibe; reference only, not quite appointment only, but kind of. No bags of any kind allowed in the library, etc etc.

Since we were discouraged from photographing the material in question, I did you some drawings of the books. Aren’t I clever? No? That was a rhetorical question. You’re not supposed to just throw me under the bus like that. Jeez…


Les murs ont la parole mai 68, possibly written by Julian Besancon and edited by Claude Tchou

The first book I looked at was quite small, horizontal in shape and completely typographical. And to top it all off, it was in French. Having had the good fortune to consult with one of the student in our class who speaks French, it was concluded that the book was a collection of inspirational quotes and the like written right before during or after the tumultuous period of upheaval in France during 1968.  I’m always given to the idea that design books are pretty things mostly lacking in substance, but to come across this one which captures the spirit of a political movement, which may or may not resonate in France today, well that is interesting. The message (whatever that may be) is delivered with minimum fuss and no unnecessary ornamentation. I feel encouraged that one can simple leave the message at the heart of the design without mucking around with sideways text and  splitting up words.


All My Rubber Stamps by Mark Pawson

Moving on, the next book I looked at had a black cover with nothing on it. Inside it was a collection of rubber stamps belonging to Mark Pawson.  A very cool book, which I imagine he was selling at art fairs, since no ISBN number means no stocking in book shops. I suspect that’s the case with almost all of the books in that library and probably why someone thought it was a good idea to essentially keep these things under lock and key, but I digress…

He could have manufactured these books by himself, since all he would need to do is make empty books and stamp in the stamps, heck if he had young relatives, he could have enlisted their help. I’m sure they’d have loved it. Also, making your own stamps is an interesting concept, of course, I’m instantly reminded that it is completely possible to do such things on photoshop, which I already have and which it will cost me no more to make use of as opposed to going and buying some stamp kits and screwing up a few times until I get it right. Ah, what is one to do?


The First and Last Straw by Andrew Lanyon

The last book I looked at was an interesting cynical look at Cornwall, from what I can gather, using collage, illustration, photography and more to poke fun at the modernisation of Cornwall. It resonates quite well with our focus on Southampton as I understand it, which is effectively looking at how Southampton has modernised on a way open to ridicule (at the ver least by Owen Hatherley). The variety of techniques applied to support the common theme is probably the sort of thing staff are hoping to see out of students.

Looking at these books and the ones other students were looking at has me thinking about concertina books, dust jackets with posters on the inside, pages with cut outs or made of different matterials to interact with each other, all sorts of things.

My little sketches don’t do justice to the work I’ve talked about, but hopefully my artwork will be able to do justice to my ideas when all is said and done


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