I had some trouble figuring out the design for the jacket of What You Will. I knew what size it was (roughly), I knew what color the paper was, and I knew, basically, how the design on the inside worked. But the cover wasn’t quite coming together.
I put it down. I digressed. I came back to it. I put it down again. I picked up another book, The Pink, a book of Kyle Schlesinger’s poems that was released in 2008 by Kenning Editions. The Pink has a striking cover, designed by Jeff Clark/Quemadura, a poet and graphic designer that lives in Michigan, that designs some of the nicest looking books out there.
While I was inspecting The Pink, looking closely at the printing (screenprinted, I think, with a glossy ink at such density that it becomes three-dimensional, the type coming up from the surface of the chipboard cover) and flipping it over and over again in my hands—
I came to a realization, probably a similar realization to what Jeff Clark had a while ago—the book does not need to have the title and author’s name on the front cover/jacket. That was the problem I was having with the design—getting all that info displayed appropriately and interestingly. But I just kept moving the type around, never questioning its necessity, never questioning the “rule” that was governing my actions. I flipped The Pink over and over, opening and closing it, feeling the paper and the ink. I re-realized the objecthood of books—it’s funny but not surprising that I would have to “remember” one my primary artistic concerns. I thought that if I could make an interesting cover, interesting enough to turn a viewer into a reader, seeking the information not there, getting them to investigate and realize the book as an object, then the design was successful.
And now I was free to follow and work through the design ideas already set forth in the pages. And the book begins to function as a total object, complete with missing parts. And its made-ness becomes part of the experience of the text-book-object.