When you hit upon a memorable book title—and Joseph Conrad certainly did that way back in 1899—the book’s cover design is rightfully expected to give the title (and the story it encapsulates) equally memorable visual expression. The dozens of book cover designers of Conrad’s classic—and devastatingly bleak—novel have mostly taken a woefully literal approach, presenting various tableaux of generic landscapes and jungle scenes to illustrate the book’s brutal Congolese setting.
British artist Fiona Banner’s Heart of Darkness, a reinterpretation of Conrad’s story as a contemporary photographic essay, brings a modernist designer’s austere sensibility to the publication’s cover design, and, quite simply, gets to the heart of the matter. Seems Banner, an artist celebrated for her text-based compositions, knows that words this eloquent and powerful deserve to stand alone—in the dark.
What’s a graphic designer to do when he loves both typography and dogs? Find a way to marry the two, of course. That’s precisely what Romanian designer Andrei Clompos has done with his Dog Alphabet, a self-initiated project in which he’s juxtaposed dog breeds with their related letterforms. Some illustrations are cleverer than others—the Weimaraner is a wow—but all offer an excuse for dog lovers to wallow in the unmitigated cuteness of pooch expressions. And there’s some useful information to be gleaned from Clompos’ project, too—like how to pronounce Xoloitzcuintle, better known as the Mexican Hairless Dog.
The Columbia-born, France-based contemporary artist Ivan Argote works in a range of media that includes painting, photography, sculpture, and video. Little wonder I’d be partial to this recent poetic installation, “Excerpt: Tell me Lies”—which may look like a serendipitously fractured urban wall, but is, in fact, a carefully composed hybrid of architecture and text, realized in concrete, paint, polyurethane, and steel.
The British illustrator Charlotte Day has the unfair advantage of being a trained horticulturalist and a gifted draughtsperson—both of which serve her most conveniently when a spot of ‘botanical beautification’ is called for. Her alphabet suite of Edible Flowers features elegant typography emblazoned with exquisitely detailed images of edible flowers, each composition rendered expertly in gouache. Aside from their intrinsic prettiness, this A-Z collection offers some practical information for gardening novices: in a pinch, those violets, day lilies, and clusters of yarrow make for some good munching.
What’s an eco friendly font, anyway? One that requires less ink when printed, say Grey advertising agency and UK stationery company Ryman, who’ve teamed up to offer “the world’s most beautiful sustainable font” for free. Ryman Eco is a font comprised of a series of lines, as opposed to a solid line, a distinction indecipherable at font sizes up to 10 pt., but purported to save 30% in ink usage. As for what distinguishes Ryman Eco from other ‘green’ fonts, like 2009’s Ecofont, for instance, Grey and type designer Dan Rhatigan claim it requires less ink still, and looks beautiful even when enlarged. No argument here.
Handbag designer Kate Spade is entering the low-priced multiples art market with a series of 10 limited edition letterpress prints for the collecting, the first being this Exclamation Print, sized at 11×14″ and letterpress printed on matte stock. No word on how limited the edition is, but at $38, typophiles needn’t worry much.
Allen Grubesic’s mixed-media light box puts a more, well, exciting, spin on a standard exit sign.
A lovely illustration for the Washington Post Magazine’s 2012 year-end issue, which recounted the lives of 6 recently deceased local citizens, by the Berlin-based studio, Ariane Spanier Design.