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Re: [BKARTS] Designing poetry books-



Well said Michael! Poets, typographers and graphic designers everywhere I'm
sure are grateful for your detailed analysis.




on 12/10/02 2:33 PM, Michael Brady at jbrady@EMAIL.UNC.EDU wrote:

> Ben
>
> I believe almost all of your assertions are flawed and wrong.
>
>> Here are some things I gleaned:
>>
>> 1. Linda Mullin, Illustrator * Author * Publisher .... She
>> designed and illustrated a very nice "popular" type poetry book
>> recently. I met her at an antiquarian book show in Vancouver Canada
>> and visited her this last year. She is largely an illustrator.
>> ... I can't remember the title though. What
>> makes the book special is the illustrations.
>
> That last sentence speaks volumes! Nice drawings, forgot the title of
> this book you admire! Maybe the poems were just not very memorable.
> That's not an encouraging thought.
>
>> 2. I think a poetry book needs illustrations.
>
> Why? The example of Mullin's work isn't enough to support this assertion.
>
>> 3. The primary thing behind white space is that endless text is
>> boring to people.
>
> Not everyone would agree with you. Tschichold, for example, just to
> start the list. Others, too.
>
>> A normal amount of white space between lines of
>> text and margins looks balanced,
>
> Ah, what's that word 'normal' doing in there? What is a 'normal amount'
> of white space?
>
>> ... and this depends of the text. Poetry
>> books have much more white space than novels because of the variable
>> line lengths.
>>
>> 4. White space beyond what is normally required is a waste of paper.
>
> Whew! That's a sweeping statement, and it resonates with the sound of
> horror vacuii and the graphic equivalent of Victorian knick-knacks
> cluttering up the drawing room. [drawing = illustrations, get it!]  :-0
>
>> It is used as a cheap alternative to having illustrations.
>
> But why the illustrations, anyway? Actually, you're also asserting that
> illustrations are filler to cover up the white paper that the author
> didn't write enough words to cover.
>
>> 5. Illustrations provide symbols to help the mind identify each poem.
>
> Illustrations provide *the artist's or designer's* symbols. The poet's
> symbols are already there, in the words. (The exception of William Blake
> is noted for the record.)
>
>> 6. Illustrations could even be clipart. The very popular book "What
>> Color Is Your Parachute" appears to use old non copyright engravings.
>
> Whoa! How contemporary can old public-domain engravings be? Dover Books,
> watch out, the Poetry Patrol is looking for a few good cuts.
>
>> 7. Even simple graphic symbols and shading help to make each poem
>> look different.
>
> The poems will look different because of the appearance of their words.
> Poems are made to be read, silently or aloud, not to be decorated with
> someone else's images.
>
>> 8. Poetry is not as popular as it used to be and so innovative
>> methods have to be found to increase it's readability and popularity.
>
> Capitulating to the same sense of self-defeat to which education has
> succumbed: Make it fun! It's boring without illustrations! Kid's learn
> math if you have Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon sneak it into their
> awareness. Poems are so dull, we need to jazz them up with clip art and
> stuff.
>
>> 9. Be bold and use new techniques to make your book stand out.
>
> This exhortation doesn't sound like you mean for the designer to use
> old, noncopyrighted linecuts.
>
>> 10. Think about using a non serif font like Arial or Helvetica.
>> Apparently such fonts are the standard in Europe. New research
>> indicates that it is actually easier to read than serif fonts, even
>> thought North American hearsay says that serif fonts are easier to
>> read. A non serif font like Tahoma actually has about 30% greater
>> font area than the same size in Times and takes up marginally more
>> page area.
>
> Serif? Sans serif? This is a spurious standard. And, if you're going to
> endorse any sans serif, Helvetica (or its lame look-alike, Arial) isn't
> the one. It (along with Univers) was quite popular in the 60s and 70s
> during the rage for the 'Swiss" look.
>
> If you gotta go sans, try Frutiger (or its look-alike, Myriad).
> Poppl-Laudatio? Even Optima, which is far too langorous, I'd think, but
> that's a call to make with the text in front of you. There are some
> contemporary designs that are hybrids of serif and sans, such as Libre.
>
>
>
> --
> Michael Brady
> http://www.unc.edu/~jbrady/index.html
>
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      For subscription information, the Archive, and other related
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        Archive maintained and suppported by Conservation OnLine
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