I own a handful of books on typography and while they’re educational and inspiring, the overall design isn’t all that beautiful. They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but for a designer, that’s easier said than done.
While the titles on my bookshelf covered the history of typography, there weren’t many images. I wanted to see more visuals of type specimens and the effects history and design trends had on typography as a whole. I knew that there had to be some meatier books out there that covered what I was looking for.
Then, I discovered Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles (try saying that 10 times fast!) and it was perfect. Comprised of two volumes, this book is a visual masterpiece. The first book covers pre-20th century type specimens while the second covers 1900 through the mid 20th century.
Weighing in at 720 pages, this book expertly traces the history of the printed letterform and has snippets from signs, books, catalogs and more. In my opinion, it’s a total must-have.
Featured title: Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles
Photos and scans: Shauna Haider
I have a longstanding love of Madonna (just scroll to the end of this post to see how long!) and when I first spotted this book in Melbourne, I knew it had to be mine.
It’s a gritty yet glam walk down memory lane beginning in May of 1983 when photographer Richard Corman got a call from his mother who was casting for a Scorcese film. Over the phone, she told Richard of a woman she’d just met. “She’s an original! I’ve never met anyone like her!”
Richard obliged his mother’s wishes and followed Madonna across the Lower East Side and later to some of her earliest gigs. Of this time in Madonna’s career, he said, “She was amazing, but she was also a part of a movement of creativity where the more you pushed, the more it yielded — and there were so many young artists all pushing at once.”
Truthfully, these photos and scans just can’t do the book full justice — it’s beautiful. The cover of the book resembles a tightly wrapped canvas and is a piece of art in its own right (I keep my copy sitting out in my office).
Back on the subject of my longstanding love of all things Madonna, it all started around 1985. After preschool, I’d hang out with my teenage cousin Tracy and to kill time, we’d play dress-up. She had all the cool belts, bandanas, rubber bracelets and black layers. I was always a willing subject to impersonate Madonna!
“This is an invasion of privacy! Why won’t the paparazzi leave me alone?! Oh sorry…it’s just you again, Aunt Shannon.” Huge props to my aunt who always had a camera handy and captured the drama of my childhood!
Featured title: Richard Corman: Madonna NYC 83
Photos and scans: Shauna Haider
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The Print Revolution explores how fashion designers have put the new technology of digital printing to use. Covering a wide array of designers from new to established, the book catalogs their inspiring results.
Traditionally, silk-screen printing was the standard method of applying patterns onto apparel but it could add substantial cost to the product since each color required a separate screen. Because of this, multi-hued patterns were limited to higher-end collections.
With digital printing, the process works in a similar manner that an inkjet printer would, meaning that the complexity and scale of patterns is now unlimited. It’s pretty amazing to see how this technology has rapidly opened the floodgates for designers of all sizes to apply surface patterns to their apparel.
The Print Revolution was provided courtesy of Gingko Press. All opinions are my own.
Ages ago, I shared a few choice visuals from one of my favorite books, It Is Beautiful…Then Gone but not enough to do it justice. This book is one that I go back to repeatedly because it’s mostly collage-based but has a strong sense of design weaving throughout its pages. I made collages long before I was a designer and this book reminds me of why I love it so much.
A lot of the work here was produced in the early 90s as the author struggled to find his footing in art school. The transition from creating design by hand to using computers was in full swing. Instead of fully embracing the clumsy computers, he revived many of his school’s forgotten relics including the darkroom and wove together his own unique style.
Though Venezky’s style has visible design roots, the hand-done elements are obvious and give his work dimension — you can see the photocopied pieces and the layers of the overlapping images. His work is a reminder that we don’t have to be totally dependent on computers to create a layout and that sometimes, it’s necessary to step away to push our personal boundaries.
Featured book: It Is Beautiful…Then Goneby Martin Venezky.
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In 2004, I was walking through Powell’s Books and spotted Excess: Fashion And The Underground In The 80s. I bought it on the spot.
The book features a tightly edited collection of hundreds of fashion photos ranging from the runway to the club scene along with countless essays on the role fashion played in 80s culture, from music to movies (with coverage of everything from Blade Runner to Wall Street).
The interesting slant is that while 80s fashion as a whole is covered in depth, there is a particular focus on Italian fashion (the publisher is Italian). Italian designers played a huge role in the transition to a more structured, sculptural look and a lot of their work is woven throughout the book across many obscure ads and magazine covers.
It’s always fascinating to see the key trends of a decade and how art, politics, movies and music intersected to influence it all.
This book does a great job of navigating the complicated world of 80s fashion (with everything from Armani powersuits to New Romantic looks getting starring roles) while retaining a diplomatic tone — there are no clichés, only a realistic glance back at how things were.
Featured book: Excess: Fashion And The Underground In The 80s