James Brook / Design

Ewan McLure: Inside and Out Catalogue

This is Ewan McClure: Inside and Out, a catalogue that I designed for The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Ewan McClure is a painter who studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen; he practises observational still-life and landscape painting as well as portraiture; his work hangs in private and public collections including The Robert Fleming collection, Princeton Theological Seminary and The Royal Scottish Academy. 

The artist lives and works in Kirkcudbright, known as the ‘artists’ town’ – while I was working on this catalogue, I had a short holiday in the town, witnessing at first-hand some of the views that have inspired the artist. The image on the front cover is a detail of Kirkcudbright, Summer, a painting from 2021, which is very typical of the works in this exhibition. 

As well as views of Kirkcudbright, the exhibition includes still-lives alongside paintings of the artist’s travels in Sweden. The final section of the catalogue, Veiled Light, really attracted my interest: these experimental departures for the artist are painted on various panel surfaces with patterns of defects, such as cork tiles and mosaics of jigsaw puzzle pieces. For the back cover (above), I selected one of these paintings Light and Moisture, a landscape painted on polyester mesh, as a foil to the more traditional painting on the front cover. The mesh-like fabric of the painting has a translucency which allows for a design in the space behind to show through the matrix of holes, creating an almost 3-D effect which, although difficult to reproduce in print, I hope is revealed in this close-up detail. 

The book is typeset in Clarendon URW, Minion Pro and Freight Sans Pro. It is 190mm x 240mm and is printed on white silk paper with a matt finish by Pureprint. 

Ewan McClure: Inside and Out was at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ, from 5 May to 28 May 2022. 



From the Archive: Discover RSA Covers, 2016-2021

These are covers of Discover RSA, the newsletter that I designed for the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from 2016-2021. The first three issues that I designed were A4 in size, folded to A5 for posting, following the format of the previous newsletters. Having re-designed this newsletter in 2016 and then working on three subsequent issues, the Royal Scottish Academy decided to use their in-house designer instead. 

I was approached again in early 2018 to update the design of the newsletter, which had now become a 16 page A5 booklet; a change I had planned in 2016, but never implemented as the Academy had not approved this move while I was doing the design. For the new design, I wanted to create a clean, rationalised design based on a grid, with a limited palette of colours and with just one typeface in different weights throughout. By keeping – almost – all of the typography aligned to the same baseline grid the newsletter looks ordered and rationalised. 

Taking visual cues from the design of the RSA Friends membership leaflet that I had designed the previous month, and using the burgundy that I had used in my refresh of the RSA Friends logo (which appears top right on the masthead) as an accent colour alongside an extended palette of greys. I typeset the newsletter in Aktiv Grotesk, a typeface that sits well with the Akzidenz Grotesk that I used on the RSA Friends logo and that is easy to read, even at a small scale. In 2020, the logo was dropped altogether to reflect the fact that the newsletter was being sent out to a wider audience of RSA members. The design and layout has constantly adapted to include different types of information and new features – the only real constant has been the design and layout of the covers.

The newsletter is 210 x 148 mm with 16 pages and is printed on an uncoated paper by Events Armoury in Edinburgh.


From the Archive: EAF Platform Covers, 2015-2021

Thse are covers that I designed for Platform, Edinburgh Art Festival’s annual showcase supporting artists in the early stages of their careers to make and present new work. I originally developed the Platform logo and identity in 2015 and there were four iterations of that design. Each iteration has a different arrangement of the cover elements alongside a new cover colour, sampled from the imagery within. In 2019, the Art Festival invited me to refresh the Platform identity to create a new look that draws on elements of the previous designs while offering a fresh new take with an image from one of the four artists on the cover.



Cover of Perspectives Magazine

This is the cover of the first issue of Perspectives, a magazine that I have designed, published by Haileybury School. The publication was developed from a desire to showcase the school’s heritage, current academic and cultural issues and new research about the school’s collections. It has been established in order to examine its role in a variety of cultural practices and issues, and to think critically about the way in which it interacts with other cultural institutions locally, nationally and globally. 

For the design of the magazine, I worked closely with Toby Parker, the Director of Learning and Research at Haileybury. Through a series of conversations and exchanges of visual material, I developed a design that makes some nods to Haileybury’s visual identity but which is distinct enough to stand alone. 

The design is based around a flexible layout that can accommodate different types of information, giving each section of the magazine its own distinct identity. The basic layout is a three column grid with type arranged on one or two columns giving a variety that helps differentiate each article. Titles, body text and images are often hung from a guideline that runs through the magazine giving a sense of order which is occasionally broken to create emphasis or visual energy. I have used type at different sizes, weights and combinations to create interesting titles and headers, arranged in sometimes playful ways with the text and images. 

My initial thoughts for the choice of typeface was to use a serif and sans-serif that have been designed to work together – I initially considered Meta Pro and Meta Serif Pro or Freight Sans Pro and Freight Text Pro. The school’s branding is based around the typefaces Calluna and Calluna Sans, so, although not a requirement to do so, it made sense to use these typefaces in the magazine. Calluna has some interesting characteristics that are revealed when the typeface is used at a larger scale, as on the masthead.

Images are prioritised in the magazine: some were specifically chosen to be placed within particular articles but I was also given another set of images to be placed throughout the magazine to act as punctuation and to create an alternative dialogue that runs alongside the main articles. It was wonderful to be given a free rein to arrange these images and I hope I have placed them in a way that creates another level of reading in the publication.

The plan is to publish the magazine quarterly with issues in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each issue will be themed, with this one titled ‘Innovation’. The magazine is being launched on 14 May and we are already working on the next issue. The magazine is 210mm x 245mm and is printed on Edixion Offset by Gomer in Wales.


Poets on the Attack Poster

This is an A3 poster that I designed for Poets on the Attack, an event at the The Royal Scottish Academy, performed by Alan Riach and Corey Gibson that looks at the flyting* between two of Scotland’s greatest modern poets, Hugh MacDiarmid and Hamish Henderson. The poster features an image of a painting of the poets by Alexander Moffatt RSA and is typeset in the new, designated RSA typefaces, TT Ramillas and Usual Sans, alongside the new RSA logo, designed by brand consultants Eido Studio. The QR code leads to the events page on the RSA website. As well as a poster, I also designed an A5 flyer for the event. 

*Flyting or fliting is a contest consisting of the exchange of insults between two parties, often conducted in verse.



Cover of Ewan McClure Inside and Out Catalogue

This is the cover of Ewan McClure: Inside and Out, a catalogue that I designed for The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. Ewan McClure is a painter who studied at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen; he practises observational still-life and landscape painting as well as portraiture; his work hangs in private and public collections including The Robert Fleming collection, Princeton Theological Seminary and The Royal Scottish Academy. 

The artist lives and works in Kirkcudbright, known as the ‘artists’ town’ – while I was working on this catalogue, I had a short holiday in the town, witnessing at first-hand some of the views that have inspired the artist. The image on the front cover is a detail of Kirkcudbright, Summer, a painting from 2021, which is very typical of the works in this exhibition.

As well as views of Kirkcudbright, the exhibition includes still-lives alongside paintings of the artist’s travels in Sweden. The final section of the catalogue, Veiled Light, really attracted my interest: these experimental departures for the artist are painted on various panel surfaces with patterns of defects, such as cork tiles and mosaics of jigsaw puzzle pieces. For the back cover (above), I selected one of these paintings Light and Moisture, a landscape painted on polyester mesh, as a foil to the more traditional painting on the front cover. The mesh-like fabric of the painting has a translucency which allows for a design in the space behind to show through the matrix of holes, creating an almost 3-D effect which, although difficult to reproduce in print, I hope is revealed in this close-up detail.

The book is typeset in Clarendon URW, Minion Pro and Freight Sans Pro. It is 190mm x 240mm and is printed on white silk paper with a matt finish by Pureprint.

Ewan McClure: Inside and Out is at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ, from 5 May to 28 May 2022.



RSA Membership Leaflet 2022

This is an update of a leaflet that I first designed in 2018. The original leaflet was designed for the RSA Friends, an organisation that has subsequently been amalgamated with the Royal Scottish Academy. The RSA has recently rebranded itself with branding created by Eido Studio; I was invited to update the leaflet with the new RSA logo and designated typefaces, Usual Sans and TT Ramillas, that form part of the new branding. 

Rather than re-design the leaflet from scratch, Nick Wong, the development manager at the RSA suggested that I edit the previous leaflet to include the new logo and the new typefaces alongside new images, new copy and new colours including a motif, extracted from the logo, for the coloured background. Of course, in graphic design, things are never so simple and, although much of the structure remains the same, this is essentially a new design as everything needed to be re-worked and re-sized to fit in the new typefaces.

Usual Sans is not dissimilar to Aktiv Grotesk, the typeface that I used for the previous leaflet (and for other items that I designed for the RSA) but it is interesting to see how the addition of TT Ramillas affects the tone of voice of the leaflet – Aktiv Grotesk has a warmth with subtle humanistic elements that are revealed when the letters are shown at a larger size whereas the warmth and friendliness of TT Ramillas is present even at a smaller size. 

Above is the cover of the original leaflet from 2018. The burgundy colour came from the RSA Friends logo, which I also refreshed in 2018 – I was asked to keep the hand-drawn representation of the RSA building and the colour to maintain continuity with the previous iteration of the logo and print material. Although there are no specific colours defined for the new branding for the Royal Scottish Academy, the preference is for pastel colours – the pistachio green on the leaflet below was used on another piece of print and Nick was keen to use this again. I suggested several new colours, including the lilac blue seen above and, in the end, because Nick and the team at the RSA could not decide which one to go with, they printed both versions. The leaflets were delivered just in time for the opening of the RSA Annual Exhibition, an important event in the RSA calendar.

Read more about the design of the original leaflet here.


DIY Art

DIY Art 

Designed by James Brook for Edinburgh Art Festival, 2020 – ongoing 

Booklets  | 297 x 210 mm | variable page count 
Printed by Edinburgh Copyshop on 120 gsm matt digital stock 

I have been collaborating with Holly Yeoman of the Community Engagement team at Edinburgh Art Festival on DIY Art, a series of activity packs from EAF and selected artists, that invite people to get creative at home. The instructional creativity kits give insights into an artist’s practice, showing how to use their processes and techniques to create unique artworks.  

For the series, I created an identity that has a DIY/homemade aesthetic but is underpinned by a cool, pared-back rationality that reflects the previous work I have done with the Festival. The brief was to create a simple contemporary design that was flexible and could accommodate different types of information but that would still present a cohesive series appealing to children, teenagers and adults alike. Produced during lockdown, a major consideration was that, although a number of packs were being printed and distributed by the Festival, most would be downloaded and printed at home so I took care to keep the artwork within standard print margins and not to use areas of unnecessary flat colour that would drink up lots of ink! 

As a starting point, the Festival gave me some examples of activity packs from other arts organisations to look at, which gave me some clues for the initial direction of the design, particularly the choice of typeface: a common feature of the packs was the use of simple, geometric sans serif typefaces. Having assembled a list of appropriate typefaces I then started to think about the DIY element and how this could be expressed in the design. I was thinking about rubber stamps, potato prints and other DIY printing techniques so I started to investigate display typefaces that carried this aesthetic. Using an initial selection of typefaces I developed a series of logos, eventually settling on a circular motif, hopefully reminiscent of a potato print. I presented a shortlist of iterations using different typefaces to the team at EAF and we finally settled on Metallophile Sp8, designed by Mark Simonson, not only for the logo but also for the typesetting of the text inside. 

The text and images for the activity instruction pages from each artists are quite different, requiring a different approach for each pack, but all packs have elements that are consistent, and are underpinned by the same grid, making a cohesive, connected series that also respects the artists’ very different practices.


 

DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Housemates by Sofia Niazi

DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Waiting Painting by Alexa Hare

DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Wow Orange by Naomi Garriock

DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Hello by Peter Liversidge

DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Feeling Lost Feeling Found by Pester & Rossi


DIY Art Home Creativity Kit Drawing: Explore and Expand by Louise K Fraser
Drawing: Explore and Expand
is Edinburgh Art Festival’s first home creativity kit made with, and for, people with visual impairment. The design of this pack follows the design of the previous activity packs but with some differences that make it accessible to visually impaired people; following guidelines and feedback from the artists involved, I adapted the design to suit these needs. One of the major changes was that the pack needed to be downloadable as a Word document so that users could have the option to increase the type size (or change it completely) to suit their needs – as Metallophile Sp8 (the typeface used on the other packs) is not freely available, I typeset the document in Century Gothic, which closely resembles the basic structure of Metallophile but is available on most computers. Century Gothic has a taller x-height than Metallophile as well as a clarity of letterforms and distinct differences between characters – the document is typeset at 16 points so, even without scaling, it should be comfortable for readers with visual impairment.

Holly Yeoman, Community Engagement Manager, Edinburgh Art Festival: I have been working with James since 2020 to develop Edinburgh Art Festival’s DIY Art home creativity kit series, which through their strong identity, visual appeal and easy-to-use format, designed by James, have supported us to introduce artist’s practice and process to audiences, helping us to maintain and grow our audience through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. I always look forward to working with James. 


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