Thursday 28 Nov, 2013

The London-based AVA Publishing (headquarters in Switzerland), specialising in Art and Design books for a predominantly educational readership, has built up a series of interesting titles over the years. Among them Visual Research: An Introduction to Research Methodologies in Graphic Design by Ian Noble and Russel Bestley, Visible Signs and Left to Right: The cultural shift from words to pictures by David Crow, and Good: An introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design by Lucienne Robert. Last year AVA were purchased by Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Shortly before the buy-out I was invited by Lucie Roberts (then Art Director at AVA) to design an upcoming book about Illustration, and later another one about Fashion and Textiles (published under the Bloomsbury name). Becoming a Successful Illustrator was released in June of this year, and Sourcing and Selecting Textiles for Fashion, already printed, will be out shortly.

These sorts of books always have a degree of complexity related to the range of text and information elements they carry, with the design of the navigation scheme of particular importance. Each one took six months to complete through a process of predefined production stages.

Designing the books was a prime example of 'working from a distance'. In the Fashion book – with me in Portugal – the editor was in London, the print manager in Hong Kong, and the author in New York – in today's world a common and largely unproblematic arrangement, although I remain curious about how physical meetings might influence the dynamic and the course of projects.

Below is the cover design I submitted for the illustration book. My only limitation was to follow a very simple template which specified the dimensions of a box for the title and the 'creative careers' identity on the top right corner. Rather than use the work of one illustrator on the cover, which seemed innappropriate considering the general nature of the book and the range of examples used inside, I decided to use a mix of work by different illustrators. In the end however, the publisher decided to commision an independent work by a freelance illustrator for the final cover design. 

Below, the final cover with an illustration by Steve Simpson.


The Fashion and Textiles book also experienced a turn-around with regard to the cover. I had been asked by the editor to browse the Victoria & Albert Museum Photographic archive to see if I could find an image for the cover. I selected the one below because of it's dynamic composition, the fabric pattern, and the strong black shape of the umbrella which I could use to contain the title. The design was accepted but when it came to ordering the photo problems arose and a substitute image had to be found.

The final cover uses an image that in all honesty I would not have chosen for a range of reasons but as designers we don't always get the final word. 

Images of the page layout will be posted in the portfolio section shortly.