Typographic Writing (Process)

This project was for the module Typography, and was all about understanding typographic detail. We were given the unformatted text for a book called Typographic Writing which was a collection of essays and biographies that had been published in ISTD journals over the years.

The task was to take the text and design the layout of the book. We had to do the cover, spine, introduction, contents pages, essays, biographies and section dividers.

I started with some research into publications that I liked and I looked at the original book to see what what wrong with it and how it might be improved. The audience needed to be young design students so I wanted my design to feel contemporary, fun and bold. Continue reading


Book Review: ‘Just My Type’ By Simon Garfield


I was recently given Just My Type for my birthday (thank you Hannah) and I shot through it, which is unusual for me because I normally lose interest in non fiction books after a few chapters. This one however had me hooked, I thought it was really well written and funny too, full of anecdotes and trivia. Obviously it would be of particular interest to the design-savvy but I would recommend it to anyone really, type should be interesting and relevant to everyone, because type allows us to communicate. We come across thousands of typefaces everyday and we infer meaning from them subconsciously. Some are bold and confident, others more personal and intimate. Some look sleek, clean and professional, others not so much, *cough* looking at you Comic Sans. Either way, type is a hugely significant part of design, I mean, imagine a world where everything is set in the same typeface… nope, I can’t either.


Earlier in the year we did a typeface design project for which I did some research and yet I was still surprised by how little I knew about the world of type design, the history of movable type and the advances in printing over the last 200 years. Just My Type included lots of history but also plenty of information and stories about contemporary designers and the future of type design. I really liked learning about the origins of characters and the intricacies of type anatomy. It sounds very niche but Simon Garfield writes in a way that makes it very readable and light.

Structurally, the book is a dream. The chapters are varied and concise and the general history of type design is told in semi-chronological order. Between chapters there are ‘fontbreaks’ with more specific information regarding one of the more prolific and well known fonts or one with a particularly interesting backstory.

As a design student, I have always been interested in typography but since finishing this book, I have become hypersensitive to it, maybe even a little obsessed. I hope that I am now better equipped, type-wise, to start my Graphic Design degree. Thank you Simon Garfield, type god.


‘All Booked Up’ Development

The ‘All Booked Up’ project was a book cover design project. It was the first visual communications pathway project that we’d been set and it ran for the 4 weeks running up to the Christmas break. We were allowed to choose an author from a list and the brief was to design a series of 4 book covers that were similar in style and had a familial feel. I chose Jean Rhys because I have read Jane Eyre and had heard of her book Wide Sargasso Sea which is written as a prequel. I did some initial research into Jean Rhys and also looked up some of the existing covers for her books. I felt strongly that I ought to know what the books were about in order to design faithful covers so I read Wide Sargasso Sea to give me a starting point. I realise now that, in the real world of design, there is not always the opportunity to do such things before starting a project and that I should perhaps have just read reviews, blurbs and synopses online. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the book and found it extremely useful to have read it for this project.


My first port of call for research is often Pinterest and so here is my board for this project. I liked the idea of combining photography of the handmade with digital design as well as simple imagery and symbolism. I was particularly inspired by this work by Helen Yentus and Edel Rodriguez for Chinua Achebe’s books. I like the way that their covers are bold and expressive and yet still simple and considered.IMG_9710*SPOILER ALERT* After mind mapping a few ideas, I decided that fire/flame imagery was my favourite for Wide Sargasso Sea. In the book, the main character Antoinette experiences a fire that destroys her home and it is an image that also forewarns the devastating events that involve her in Jane Eyre.



IMG_9717I ended up becoming really interested in the idea of cutting out silhouettes in black and using them to create typography and images. I was inspired again by the work of Saul Bass and his use of cut outs for image making. I also decided that I really wanted the covers to be hand made in some way, or at least I wanted them to have an element of texture to them. I spent a while sketching little thumbnail drawings of some ideas for layout. By this point I was convinced that black and a contrasting colour would be the way forward. I used watercolours to add colour to the sketches and loved the way that it looked as a background so the design in the bottom right hand corner in the image below became the one to take forward.



IMG_9720After deciding on the general direction for the designs I tackled the other books that I’d chosen: Voyage in the Dark, Good Morning Midnight and After Leaving Mr Mackenzie. Each one needed to have a background texture in watercolour and a clear image that linked somehow to the content of the book.


IMG_9723IMG_9724For Voyage in the Dark I went with a feather to represent Anna’s delicacy and fragility and a grey stormy background to reflect her view of London. For After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, it was a pile of coins and a golden wash to highlight Julia’s obsession with riches. And for Good Morning Midnight, I chose a wine bottle and glass and dark pink to symbolise Sasha’s dependence on drink.  I struggled a lot to try to get the pile of coins to work as a silhouette and I wish I had chosen an image that was clearer to identify when it is silhouetted.


I did a quick mock up of the cover on Illustrator and finalised the design. I also started thinking about the spine, back cover and dust flaps. For the blurb, I wanted the text to be filled with the same image as the background to give the effect of it having been cut out. I spent way too long trying to get this to work as I was still in the early stages of learning how Illustrator works and after much googling I eventually figured out clipping masks and HALLELUJAH it worked!


When it came to assembling the book covers, I painted four watercolour washes and cut out the words Jean Rhys from black card along with the images I’d chosen. I experimented with cutting out the letters for the titles by hand with a scalpel and although I really liked the handmade quality, I found that it took too much time and my hand ached so I asked about using the laser cutter instead. This worked much better and I really like the way that the titles look when they’re laser cut.


IMG_2707I was even able to laser cut little penguins which I thought were adorable and really wanted to use but they turned out to be difficult to photograph and so unfortunately didn’t make it into the final covers.



For each part of the cover, I laid out all of the components and photographed them on the background. I was particularly pleased with the way the cover for Voyage in the Dark came out and it was definitely my favourite.


I was really excited when I finally printed out the covers and I was able to see what they would look like on a real book- lame I know, but it’s the little things.

Voyage In The Dark

Jean Rhys CollageI am ultimately extremely pleased with the way the covers turned out and I have found that, since this project, my use of watercolour has increased a lot – I love it! Also, this project helped improve my skills on Illustrator enormously and I have felt much more confident since.