Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Beautiful books

We were very lucky today at Woodlane to have book cover designer and typographer David Pearson, famous for this work with Penguin, come down and do a lecture. Oddly it was an MA Fine Art lecture, but plenty of the graphic designers attended – as David is after all a graphic designer!

I can honestly say it was one of the best lectures I think I've ever been to at Woodlane. No doubt partly because David does what I would love to do – work with type and books. He also came across as a really nice guy, humble about his work but absolutely passionate about what he does.

He also talked passionately about Penguin, the publishers that he was lucky enough to work at for 5 years. First as what he called a "text designer", basically laying out and typesetting the inside of books, and afterwards as a cover designer. Whilst at Penguin he proposed the idea for a design retrospective which became a printed reality. I in fact own this book but didn't realise/remember that he'd designed it!

Some notes:

David Pearson on Hans Schmoller, Penguin designer from the 50s with an eye for detail: "He could tell the difference between a Bembo and Garamond full stop at 50 paces."

David Pearson on himself: "I'm kind of okay with type."

He said when designing for a series, of any kind not just books, it's useful to make a few initial design decisions. In his case, for the Great Ideas series, one colour and a purely typographic outcome.

Also, "don't always assume you can do everything yourself" - collaborate and share.

Try using rubber stamps for that letterpress/lino print feel. (Definitely going to look into this for myself, genius idea and from his book covers you can see it works brilliantly.)

Patterns are good! Do patterns when you can!

David set up his own small publishing company with another person, White's Books, a few years ago and they focus on producing beautiful books. He works as art director and typographer alongside illustrators with the highest standards and passion for their craft. I think I'll invest in one of the editions of Treasure Island – one of my favourite books beautifully designed.

David Pearson on type: "All typefaces are useful for something, you just have to find the use! There's no such thing as using too many typefaces."

Type as image! Also, check out his Flickr.

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