Mar 072010

This time around the topic isn’t children’s books themselves, but a how-to on illustrating them. This was another find from Eureka Books that dates to the 1950s. There really is so much overlap when it comes to the design of kids’ books and that of artists’ books.

This especially got me thinking about possibilities for illustrated end papers and book covers, along with other aspects of book structure.

But what I most wanted to do was share the chapter on typography with bookmakers I know who tend to think of font and type matters as afterthoughts, if they think about them at all. Henry P. here says:

“Type is the most important element in most books. Even in the young child’s picture books it is still a factor of great moment. No book could be considered well designed unless its type faces were well chosen, its size appropriate, and the type panels well proportioned and well printed. And the relation between type and illustration must be a successful one….Illustrations are almost always near neighbors of type in some form, and they must be compatible…

Occasionally, an illustrator is tempted to use an exotic type face because it goes well with his pictures, but here another factor enters: legibility. There are many…display types which excite and delight the eye for a line or two but which bore and repulse if pursued page after page. The so-called book types have stood the test of countless hours of reading and have survived because they do not weary….

Picture and text are bound to influence each other, beneficially or adversely. Who would choose any but the way of cooperation between them?”


Mar 052010

Books meant for kids often have some of the best ideas for artists’ book structures. They are, in many respects, often quite similar–they have an emphasis on illustrations with perhaps a little bit of text. Sometimes they also have an unusual structure or shaped pages.

I recently came upon a couple of children’s books from an earlier era.

The first was sent to me by a friend. It’s a German translation of an English book that was called Animal Lore and Disorder. It advertises “more than 200 comic animals.” The pages are divided horizontally, so as you turn them, you create little mish-mashes of mixed up animals and mixed up descriptions to go with them. This here is a “Cowk,” a cow/elk: “This animal lives in the farmyard. He gives lots of milk and cream and…hunters often go around Canada hunting him.” The book itself is interestingly made. It is essentially a pamphlet with hard covers and a buckram spine. The paper cover wrapper is glued directly onto the book boards, with flaps left free. They tuck in around the front of the book. You can see the raw edges of the book board.

The second I found in a bargain bin at Eureka Books. It’s not in great condition, but I liked the form of it and the way it was made. It’s an accordion. The pages are shaped book board panels, all joined together with book cloth hinges and a cloth spine. It’s satisfying to open and arrange these heavy, smooth panels joined with cloth. The sections move in a way that wouldn’t be possible with the cheaper production methods of newer picture books.

I’m already imagining how elements of these two book forms can be worked into my artist’s books.