‘Much Obliged’ Book by Stephen Sutcliffe



Much Obliged

Stephen Sutcliffe

Published by Book Works, London, 2019

Edited by Gavin Everall

Proofreading by Jenny Fisher

Designed by James Brook

ISBN 978 1 906012 81 6

Soft cover | 195 x 130 mm | 144 pages | Printed by Albe de Coker in Antwerp, Belgium,
on Symbol Tatami, Munken Pure and LumiArt papers | Typeset in Adobe Caslon Pro and Nimbus Sans

Much Obliged is a book by the Glasgow-based artist, Stephen Sutcliffe, that I designed for Book Works in London. Much Obliged is inspired by Joe Brainard’s seminal memoir, I Remember, and is a similarly constructed assemblage of loosely connected reminiscences drawing on Stephen’s experiences of childhood, family, art school, friends and work. Like me, Stephen is from Yorkshire so it was been a real treat to typeset words and phrases that are familiar from my own childhood. I very much enjoyed working on this project and Stephen’s text was been a joy to read, often making me laugh out loud.

This story is typical of the dry humour running through the book:
In Greenacres Stephen’s mam and dad once had John Spooner and his wife over for dinner. During the meal Stephen’s mam said, ‘You look brown John. Have you had your shirt off at work?’ John was a miner.

Printed on uncoated paper, the book features a glossy central section of images including Stephen’s own collages – often made as birthday cards for his friends – alongside family snapshots. My favourite is Stephen at a fancy dress party, dressed as Camila Batmanghelidjh. The cover has a high gloss finish – I've always wanted to do a book with a glossy cover so was delighted that the artist shared this ambition!

www.bookworks.org






























Gavin Everall, Co-Director, Book Works: James has a long history of involvement with Book Works, as a former valued colleague and friend, but this was the first time we had worked with him as a freelance designer. And it was a complete pleasure to work with someone who really understands artists, artists’ books, and the role of a designer in the publication process. Not only is he meticulous in his approach and delivery, but it was also a pleasure to be reminded of what fun he is to work with. 


Cover of ‘Much Obliged’ Book by Stephen Sutcliffe



This is the cover of Much Obliged, a new book by the Glasgow-based artist, Stephen Sutcliffe, that I designed for Book Works in London. Much Obliged is inspired by Joe Brainard’s seminal memoir, I Remember, and is a similarly constructed assemblage of loosely connected reminiscences drawing on Stephen’s experiences of childhood, family, art school, friends and work. Like me, Stephen is from Yorkshire so it has been a real treat to typeset words and phrases that are familiar from my own childhood. I’ve very much enjoyed working on this project and Stephen’s text has been a joy to read, often making me laugh out loud. This story is typical of the dry humour running through the book:

In Greenacres Stephen’s mam and dad once had John Spooner and his wife over for dinner. During the meal Stephen’s mam said, ‘You look brown John. Have you had your shirt off at work?’ John was a miner.

Printed on uncoated paper, the book features a glossy central section of images including Stephen’s own collages – often made as birthday cards for his friends – alongside family snapshots. My favourite is Stephen at a fancy dress party, dressed as Camila Batmanghelidjh.

More photos of the book to come soon…


Much Obliged Stephen Sutcliffe

Edited by Gavin Everall

Proofreading by Jenny Fisher

Designed by James Brook

Published by Book Works, London, 2019

ISBN 978 1 906012 81 6

Soft cover | 195 x 130 mm | 144 pages
Printed by Albe de Coker in Antwerp, Belgium,
on Symbol Tatami, Munken Pure and LumiArt papers
Typeset in Adobe Caslon Pro and Nimbus Sans

Discover RSA Autumn 2019



Discover RSA | Issue 112 | Autumn 2019

Designed by James Brook for the Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 2019

Booklet | 210 x 148 mm | 16 pages
Printed by Events Armoury, Edinburgh

I originally designed this newsletter in 2016, subsequently designing three further issues before the RSA handed the work to their in-house designer. I was approached again in early 2018 to update the design of the newsletter as a 16 page A5 booklet. This is the fourth edition that I have designed in this new format and style.

The newsletter takes visual cues from the design of the RSA Friends membership leaflet that I designed in 2018. The design is clean and rationalised, with a limited palette of colours and with just one typeface in different weights throughout. I used the burgundy that I had used in my refresh of the RSA Friends logo 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 logo and that is easy to read, even at a small scale. My original intention was to keep most of the typography aligned to the same baseline grid – however, over five issues, with varying amounts of copy and images to fit in, I have had to be more relaxed about being faithful to the grid, and, although there is an underlying rationale to the layout, I have had to be more playful, which has been strangely liberating!

I am particularly pleased with this cover, which features an image of a modified found ceramic piece by Jessica Harrison.



















Cover of Discover RSA Newsletter Autumn 2019



This is the cover of the latest Discover RSA newsletter. This is the fifth edition that I have designed in this new format and style. I originally designed this newsletter in 2016, subsequently designing three further issues before the RSA handed the work to their in-house designer. I was approached again in early 2018 to update the design of the newsletter, which had now finally 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 in charge of the design.

The newsletter takes visual cues from the design of the RSA Friends membership leaflet that I designed in 2018. The design is clean and rationalised, with a limited palette of colours and with just one typeface in different weights throughout. I used the burgundy that I had used in my refresh of the RSA Friends logo 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 logo and that is easy to read, even at a small scale. My original intention was to keep most of the typography aligned to the same baseline grid – however, over five issues, with varying amounts of copy and images to fit in, I have had to be more relaxed about being faithful to the grid, and, although there is an underlying rationale to the layout, I have had to be more playful, which has been strangely liberating!

I am particularly pleased with this cover, which features an image of a modified found ceramic piece by Jessica Harrison.



EAF Commissioning Circle Card



The Edinburgh Art Festival asked me to design a card inviting people to join their newly-launched Commissioning Circle, a patrons scheme created to support the work of the festival. The festival sent me some examples of other patrons scheme invitations that they liked, along with a loose brief to design something with ‘minimal, bold text’ that would fit with the other printed material that I was designing, and to be printed on ‘high quality paper/card’.

After showing some early iterations that used the typeface Freight for the body text with Freight Sans for the titling, the festival expressed a preference for a more formal font, so I selected Garamond which I used with Active Grotesk Bold for the titling. These early iterations had full bleed images of EAF commissions on the front with a similar arrangement of type as the finished version, reversed out of the image, and mainly ranged left in the top left-hand corner. The arrangement of text on the back was a simple hierarchy of ranged left, ragged right type that aimed to break up what is quite a lot of information, in to understandable parts.

I started to think about the festival’s preference for a more formal typeface and how that formality might be expressed in the design on the front. The obvious solution was to centre the type, which, I think, always carries some connotations of formality as it echoes traditional book typography. The centred type didn't work very well with the selection of images that the festival had sent me – and they had also expressed reservations about using only one image to reflect the range of their commissions – so I started to think about a circle logo and how that might be used instead of an image.

I developed several iterations of the circle theme and it became clear that a circle reverse out of a colour would be the best solution: the festival had already expressed a preference for an uncoated card and I knew that a flat colour would work very well on this stock. I had been using Photoshop to pick out colours from the cover images to develop a colour for the back of the card that would create a link with the front: the sage green happened almost by accident and I knew that this was the prefect colour – fortunately, when I sent the next set of iterations, including other colour options, the festival agreed that the sage was the best option.





The design was completed with a second, smaller circle logo on the back of the card, which was offset to the left so that it echoed the ranged left typography on the reverse and also emphasised the information about the levels of support. The second circle was printed as a 25% tint of the colour on the front as it hindered reading of the text (which was printed black). The EAF logo was placed in the lower right-hand corner as a way of grounding the design and creating a sense of balance.

The card is 150 x 200 mm and was printed on Horizon Offset 350gsm by Allander in Edinburgh.

Sorcha Carey, Director, Edinburgh Art Festival: We have worked with James Brook on a number of different festival design projects since 2014, ranging from substantial exhibition catalogues, smaller interpretation booklets and leaflets, through to devising bespoke identities for discrete projects and initiatives. He has a wealth of knowledge of typography, graphic design, print and book production, is incredibly thoughtful and considered in his approach, and always responds to a brief with creativity and rigour in equal measure. I can’t recommend him highly enough. 

Cover of Platform: 2019 Leaflet



This is the cover of a leaflet that I designed for Platform, Edinburgh Art Festival’s showcase for Scotland based artists at the beginning of their careers. The 2019 edition, selected by artists Monster Chetwynd and Toby Paterson, brought together new work by Anna Danielewicz, Joanne Dawson, Harry Maberly and Suds McKenna. The exhibition ran from 25 July until 25 August and was held at The Fire Station at Edinburgh College of Art, 76-78 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DE.

I have designed four previous iterations of the leaflet, using a logo and identity that I originally developed in 2015. Each year’s version featured a unique arrangement of the cover elements alongside a new cover colour, taken from the imagery within. For the fifth year of Platform, the Art Festival invited me to refresh the identity: I created a new look that draws on elements of the previous designs with a new size, 210 x 165mm, that aligns it with the EAF commissions booklet that I also designed. The new design includes the circles (taken from the colon that appears in Platform: 2019) with imagery selected from one of the four artists, in this instance, the work of the brilliant Harry Maberly. I used two typefaces, Freight Sans Pro and Adelle Sans, selected for their character and readability, and used different weights of Adelle Sans to create a new logo that echoes the previous logo, which was set in Akzidenz Grotesk. Inside, the layout follows the design of the previous four iterations but the wider page size gives a feeling of space and gives images priority. The leaflet was printed by Allander, Edinburgh, on Horizon Offset 170gsm.

www.edinburghartfestival.com

Cover of ‘Stories for an Uncertain World’ Booklet



This is the cover of Stories for an Uncertain World, the booklet that I designed for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2019 commissions programme.

In the context of ‘major geo-political and societal shifts’, the EAF Commissions Programme brings together five artists with new projects that ‘reflect the uncertain times we find ourselves in, poised between the disintegration of an old world order, and taking the initial faltering steps towards an unknown future’. The participating artists are: Nathan Coley, Alfredo Jaar, Rosalind Nashashibi, Sriwhana Spong, and Corin Sworn.

While working through ideas for the cover of the booklet, I was thinking about ideas of uncertainty, using transparencies and gradients to create type that dissolves, almost to the point of becoming unreadable. The main titles are set in uppercase and centred on the page, echoing traditional book typography and creating a sense of authority that generates a tension with the ethereality of the fading type. A further sense of uncertainty is created by the use of Museo for the titles, a typeface that initially appears rational but that, on closer inspection, carries subtle quirky elements that disrupt this message. Museo was designed by Jos Buivenga – his love for the uppercase letter U inspired this unique set of fonts: “In a daydream I saw the top of both stems bended into semi-slab serifs.” It is these curved slab serifs that give the typeface its idiosyncratic character.




I have used colour gradients on the inside and back covers (above), an effect that I wouldn’t normally use, but that felt appropriate in this context – the sky blue echoes the landscape in the cover photograph, a still from a film by artist Rosalind Nashahibi. For the body text and captions, I have used the typeface Aktiv Grotesk, a deliberately low-key choice that sits quietly in contrast with Museo. Imagery from the five artists is placed in sections that broadly correspond to the discussion of their work in the essay written by EAF director Sorcha Carey that forms the main body of the booklet.

The 24 page (plus 4 page cover) booklet was printed by Allander, in Edinburgh, on Horizon Offset 250gsm for the cover and Horizon Offset 140gsm for the text pages. The size, 210 x 165mm, follows the series of books and leaflets that I have previously designed for the Art Festival.



Order/Disorder



This is the original artwork, made in 1977, by the artist Jamie Reid (born 1947) for the front cover of the LP Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols, it is currently on display in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, as part of the excellent Cut and Paste survey exhibition. The text panel that accompanies the artwork explains that, what appear to be letters taken from newspaper headlines, were, in fact, specially printed (on newsprint), then cut out, kerned, and arranged on a simple grid (just visible). I love this collision of order/disorder.

Speaking about the cover, the Sex Pistol’s manager, Malcolm McClaren (1946-2010) recalled “The only real thing about Never Mind the Bollocks was that it had to look ugly. We came up with the ugliest cover we could think of; that in a sense would attack the idea of super-graphics. I wanted to make ugliness beautiful.” The cover is notable for not featuring a photograph of the band: Jamie Reid said “What’s the point when you’re already on the cover of the Daily Mirror and the Sun – It’s just tarting up the sleeve and they were ugly anyway. I wanted the graphics to articulate what the attitude of the songs was, what the attitude of the whole band was…”

The unique artwork, made of printing ink and cut paper collage on cardboard, measures 271 mm x 271 mm, and is owned by the V&A, as part of the Theatre and Performance Collection. The final cover was, of course, printed in lurid fluorescent inks, which, along with the title, were, according to the V&A website, ‘chosen in order to be noticed and to offend … McLaren, has said that, to this end, Reid’s “style subverted the spectacle and commodification of every day life by being bolder and more shocking”.’

Although the sleeve looks simple, Jon Savage, in the book Up They Rise: The Incomplete Works of Jamie Reid, describes it as a ‘printing tour de force’ because the sleeve featured a series of complex overlays, with yellow and fluorescent inks, both notoriously difficult to print. This technically-challenging sleeve, coupled with multiple changes to the title of the album and the track listing, as well as changes to the release date, meant that there were several iterations of the design, alongside a series of printer’s proofs that reveal the many attempts by Reid to get the design and printing of the sleeve right.

The design, which became one of the most defining images of Punk, spawning a host of imitations, reflects Reid’s interest in the ideas of the avant-garde political group, the Situationist International. Reid had co-founded the Situationist-influenced Suburban Press in 1970, after leaving Croydon Art College; he also collaborated with Christopher Gray on the 1974 book Leaving The 20th Century, the first anthology of writings by the situationists ever published in English. At the Suburban Press, Reid developed the style of radical cut-up graphics that formed the basis of the artwork that he produced for the Sex Pistols – Reid noted that “The images and techniques were very similar to those we’d developed over five years at the Suburban Press. There was hardly any time to think about developing a new style for the Sex Pistols”. Of the sleeve of Never Mind the Bollocks, Reid said that it is “intended to articulate ideas, many of which were anti-establishment and quite theoretical and complicated”. “The Sex Pistols seemed very much a perfect vehicle to communicate the ideas that had been formulated during that period [the late 1960s and early 1970s], and to get them across very directly to people who weren't getting the message out of the left-wing politics of the time.”

More than forty years later, it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the furore that the Sex Pistols, their music, image and their record covers generated. Punks were attacked because of their clothing and hairstyles: Jamie Reid was beaten up outside a rockabilly pub in the Borough because of a t-shirt that he was wearing that featured his own artwork for the Pistol’s God Save the Queen single. Many record stores refused to carry Never Mind the Bollocks and some record charts refused to list its title, showing just a blank space instead. A Virgin Records shop manager in Nottingham was arrested for displaying the record after being warned by the police, citing the 1899 Indecent Advertisements Act, to cover up the word ‘bollocks’. Even the word ‘sex’ in the band’s name seemed confrontational. Seeing this artwork framed as an artwork in a gallery would have been unimaginable in 1977, but this image still has the power – if not to shock – to arrest the viewer; it has endured because it was created with an attention to detail that powerfully transmits the complex, radical and politically-charged ideas that informed Punk.

“Punk was like an exorcism which cleared up a lot of the shit that was left over from the Sixties. Punk was about spontaneity and it also carried with it a really vicious sense of humour” – Jamie Reid.


Rose Frain Survey Book Wet Proofs



Here are the wet proofs of the text pages and cover of the book that I have been designing for the visual artist, Rose Frain. For the two A2 wet proofs I took a selection of images from the book alongside a section of the cover. It was good to see the proofs and was an opportunity to make some adjustments to a couple of the images. The cover will be printed in metallic silver and black with a spot colour, on GalerieArt Satin: here you can see the two experiments we tried with a high gloss laminate and with a matt, scuff-free laminate. The matt, scuff-free laminate was the definite winner! The book is being printed by Allander in Edinburgh and it will be bound by Charles Letts & Co., in Dalkeith. We hope to pass on press this week.

Rose Frain Survey features 18 of the artist’s major projects, citing stylistic and conceptual developments; it includes critical essays, full chronology and bibliography. The book has been realised with an award from Creative Scotland and will be published by Sissy Graffiti in September 2019, with launch events and related exhibitions at the Glasgow Women’s Library, Newcastle University, and Goldsmiths, University of London.













Rose Frain Survey Dummy Book



I am very excited to see the dummy of the book that I have been designing for the visual artist, Rose Frain. The book is being printed on 150gsm Munken Lynx Smooth with endpapers of Colorplan Smoke Grey 135gsm by Allander, in Edinburgh. The cover is printed metallic silver and black with a spot colour, on GalerieArt Satin with a scuff-free laminate; it will be bound by Charles Letts & Co., based in Dalkeith, who also made the dummy.

Rose Frain Survey has been realised with an award from Creative Scotland and will be published by Sissy Graffiti in September 2019, with launch events and related exhibitions at the Glasgow Women’s Library, Newcastle University, and Goldsmiths, University of London. The book features 18 of the artist’s major projects, citing stylistic and conceptual developments; it includes critical essays, full chronology and a bibliography.



Proofs of Platform: 2019 Leaflet



Here is the proof of a leaflet that I have designed for Platform, Edinburgh Art Festival’s showcase for Scotland based artists at the beginning of their careers. The 2019 edition, selected by artists Monster Chetwynd and Toby Paterson, brings together new work by Anna Danielewicz, Joanne Dawson, Harry Maberly and Suds McKenna.

I have designed four previous iterations of the leaflet, using a logo and identity that I originally developed in 2015. Each iteration had a different arrangement of the cover elements alongside a new cover colour, taken from the imagery within. For the fifth year of Platform, the Art Festival invited me to refresh the identity: I have created a new look that draws on elements of the previous designs with a new size, 210 x 165mm, that aligns it with the EAF commissions booklet that I am also designing. The new design includes the circles (taken from the colon that appears in Platform: 2019) with imagery selected from one of the four artists, in this instance, the work of Harry Maberly. I have used two typefaces, Freight Sans Pro and Adelle Sans, selected for their character and readability, and have used different weights of Adelle Sans to create a new logo that echoes the previous logo, which was set in Akzidenz Grotesk. Inside, the layout follows the design of the previous four iterations but the wider page size gives a feeling of space, prioritising images. The leaflet is being printed by Allander, Edinburgh, on Horizon Offset 170gsm.

Platform: 2019 opens on 25 July and runs until 25 August at The Fire Station at Edinburgh College of Art, 76-78 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DE. Admission is free.

www.edinburghartfestival.com






Proofs of ‘Stories for an Uncertain World’



I am very pleased to see the proofs of Stories for an Uncertain World, the booklet that I have been designing for the Edinburgh Art Festival 2019 commissions programme.

In the context of ‘major geo-political and societal shifts’, the EAF Commissions Programme brings together five artists with new projects that ‘reflect the uncertain times we find ourselves in, poised between the disintegration of an old world order, and taking the initial faltering steps towards an unknown future’. The participating artists are: Nathan Coley, Alfredo Jaar, Rosalind Nashashibi, Sriwhana Spong, and Corin Sworn.

For the booklet, I have played with ideas of uncertainty, using transparencies and gradients to create type that dissolves, almost to the point of becoming unreadable. The main titles are set in uppercase and centred on the page, echoing traditional book typography and creating a sense of authority that generates a tension with the ethereality of the fading type. A further sense of uncertainty is created by the use of Museo for the titles, a typeface that initially appears rational but that, on closer inspection, carries subtle quirky elements that disrupt this message. Museo was designed by Jos Buivenga – his love for the uppercase letter U inspired this unique set of fonts: “In a daydream I saw the top of both stems bended into semi-slab serifs.” It is these curved slab serifs that give the typeface its idiosyncratic character.

I have used colour gradients on the inside and back covers, an effect that I wouldn’t normally use, but that felt appropriate in this context – the sky blue echoes the landscape in the cover photograph, a still from a film by artist Rosalind Nashahibi. For the body text and captions, I have used the typeface Aktiv Grotesk, a deliberately low-key choice that sits quietly in contrast with Museo. Imagery from the five artists is placed in sections that broadly correspond to the discussion of their work in the essay written by EAF director Sorcha Carey that forms the main body of the booklet.

The 24 page booklet is being printed by Allander, in Edinburgh, on Horizon Offset 250gsm for the cover and Horizon Offset 140gsm for the text pages. The size, 210 x 165mm, follows the series of books and leaflets that I have previously designed for the Art Festival.

www.edinburghartfestival.com

















‘An Observation’ Invitation



Here is an invitation that I designed for my talented friend, the glass artist, Amanda Baron, who is showing at a pop-up exhibition as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. The exhibition stems from archival work undertaken by Amanda for the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust and will place her beautiful pieces alongside works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, selected by the director of the trust, Rob Airey.

www.amandabaronglass.com






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