Edition of books in progress

In-progress edition of manuscript books

I’m so excited about the edition of books I’m working on now. This makes … uh … three different variable editions of manuscript books I’m working on at the moment. Ain’t it great!

The first seven of this 12-book edition are going to my book exchange group so I won’t show the whole thing just yet. But they’ll be going in the mail in about 10 days, so stay tuned for more after that.

Oh, all right. I’m too enthusiastic about it to be totally discreet. Here’s a sneak peek at the text block.

Scintillating text & stuck-edness

Sometimes in the making of a book edition, you get stuck. I am, or was. I’ve been working with a few texts about stars, and had dyed a stack of Arches Text Wove. The possibilities for structure and order and style having overwhelmed me, I took a step back and chose just one of the texts for a broadside. Nothing like a deadline to get the ink flowing. This was made for submission to “Inktober” an exhibit whose main requirement was that it include ink. The theme for the exhibit is “a few of my favorite things”. Stars are more than a few of my favorite things.

Politics in art and graphic design

Copy-fitting a 1961 quote from John F. Kennedy on the importance of the press. The left side is done with an EF66 nib cut to a small broad edge; the right side is done with a #6 Mitchell nib. Walnut ink. Drawing paper.

I’ve been making progress on my latest variable edition of manuscript books, which includes, in part, quotations from presidents 1-44 on threats to democracy. Writing out these quotations has been a good experience, reminding me that our nation has had some great leaders.

It’s interesting to see what how other artists are addressing our current political problems.

“Gerry” typeface: rendered maps of gerrymandered districts. Ben Doessel and James Lee , typographers.

Hyperallergenic reports on a new typeface, “Gerry”, which renders maps of gerrymandered districts into letters of the alphabet as a commentary on the “eroding of democracy.” The entire article is here.

I would like to have attended the exhibit “Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-2018” at the Design Museum in London last year … before many of the artists removed their artwork from the exhibit early to protest the the “artwashing” of an arms industry leader: the museum hosted a private event for Leonardo, an Italian defense contractor.

Paul Kennard had donated Union Mask, which featured an image of a gas mask spewing US and UK missiles, to the museum, but demanded that his work be withdrawn from the exhibition. As he put it, “I certainly don’t want my work to be viewed during a jolly by arms dealers at the museum.” Protesters held signs that read, “#NopeToArms and “The revolution will not be patronised.” Clever.

AIGA has devoted an entire category (or is it a tag?), Politics + Design, on their website. My favorite recent article, filed in Design History 101, is one about Corita Kent.

Playing, preparing, or procrastinating? Or all three?

Glair and gouache with brushes and pens on various book papers.
Glair and gouache with brushes and pens on various book papers.

The design is complete and the text copy-fitted for my next variable manuscript book edition. I’m ready to start lettering.

So I’ve spent the past three days trying to decide what paper. I’ve been testing lettering and painting on various book papers, from Somerset Book to Hannemuehle Ingres to Lana Laid, and more.

All that testing has brought up ideas for other books, and reactivated my attention toward the “other” edition I’ve been working on. But first things first: I’ve got a lot of lettering to do on the present design. I’m totally absorbed in this one, but, objectively, these test marks might be more interesting.

I’m loving working in my studio every day. Can you tell?

Starting new work

We calligraphers have so many choices! Size, compression, letter spacing, slant, line spacing, ascender/descender length, color, weight, shape, serif, tool, paper, writing fluid — the list goes on and on. Sometimes I begin by lettering a line in as many ways occur to me within the parameters of the page size. It can be a way in to a new project.

Jump-starting the design process for a new piece. Walnut ink with 1mm Brause nib on a scrap of watercolor paper about 5 in x 7 in. First line of George Marion McClellan’s poem, “A September Night”.

And some more gothicized italic

After just a few days off, the hand seems to slip through my fingers when I lose focus, but I am enjoying gothicized italic. This page was done June 11.

Gothicized italic, Moon Palace sumi ink, 2mm Brause nib on Strathmore Drawing 400 paper – 9 in x 12 in.

Catching up with a few pages of daily lettering

I’ve been negligent here on my blog — has it really been two months? to the day! — but I’ve been working pretty steadily in my studio. Here are a few pages of daily lettering, mostly delving into gothicized italic and uncial letter forms.

May 24 – After mixing color to match a colored background, I just kept going because I was having so much fun.
May 25 – A first approach to uncial, which I had not studied in years. Just trying to remember the feel of uncials: round, short, fruity (okay, that’s some weird kinaesthesia going on).
May 27 – Getting a little more specific by studying a handout received from Sheila Waters c. 1986.
May 30 – The same uncials, but taking it down in size.