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Yes, we’re back. We came back in the middle of the mess our renovations are still causing and it was also the end of the semester, which meant grading, so yep, in short we missed an update – sorry! However, it’s time for the traditional round of “The Books We Bought While Away.” This time, though, it’s going to be a short round, guys.

Truth of the matter is, we bought exactly two books. (We saw a few other interesting things but we ended up ordering them on Amazon afterwards. We’ll share when they arrive.) The first one was the kind we always buy instead of postcards and other souvenirs: a pop-up illustrated panorama. You saw them before on our blog and here’s the Berlin edition:

Illustrations by Sarah McMenemy.

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One of the few attractions we actually managed to see (but not the most exciting one).

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We only saw Alexanderplatz through the train’s window.

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But we did get to walk through a huge part of the Tiergarten.

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And another book we bought was actually a gift for our son and it quite enchanted us. It’s a small picture book about a mouse and a hedgehog who live in a garden and grown different plants. It’s printed with water paints on eco-carton, which we condone wholeheartedly, and it’s a lot of fun.

The toys come from our home collection. J has a lot of hedgehogs because of his name and he really loves rodents so the characters in the book were already a good match.

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Our school German is virtually non-existent but it suffices to read this book.

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The paper is naturally gray so that white elements have to be printed onto it and it gives the book a pleasant, natural, a little old-fashioned feeling.

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And that’s it, not the most fruitful trip in this respect but we were spending a lot of time at the conference and the only exciting bookstore we found in the city was closed for a national holiday.

We wrote more about Typo Berlin here, should you be interested for some reason.

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Coming back from a meeting a few weeks ago we stopped by a nice bookshop full of artsy treasures and, of course, we impulse-bought a children’s book we want to share with you today. It’s by William Grill and it’s called The Wolves of Currumpaw. Fair warning: it’s not exactly a happy book, more of a cautionary tale, as it tells the story of a wolf hunter and how his biggest catch made him turn into a preservation activist (I guess this is the happy part in the end; but first there’s wolf-killing and we honestly found it hard to read).

The loveliest part of the book is the illustration style: how it cites Native American art but also makes it very approachable and child-friendly. The use of crayons for the drawings makes them softer, almost like a blanket, and we feel this softening is quite welcome, considering the subject matter.

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(The wolf starring in the photos is our son’s, from a series of plush toys that help support  WWF.)

An example of the lovely sense of space the book creates.

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The illustrator creates masterful variations between spreads. Some are panoramic views of the landscape, some resemble infographics while others are dynamic action scenes. The color palette is lively and hushed at the same time.

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And this one is somewhere in between an infographic and an action scene.

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(The wolf is called “Oww.”)

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The two wolves eternally happy in the wolf heaven.

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We were quite touched by the book because, well, we love wolves. The issue of  preservation of our local ones is very dear to us and we try to support it as much as we can. (And if you feel similarly, you may always consider donating to WWF or another similar organization. Just saying.)

If you know as at all, you know we love tangible type, book covers and paper. Our “Inspiration” archive is full of such finds and today we decided to share a few lovely works which combine all these things: prepare to be amazed by book cover designs where the title is made of paper.

We will start with ours – and everyone else’s – favorite, the brilliant Peter Mendelsund and his covers for Ben Marcus. The covers use deceptively simple typography on slips of paper interwoven with almost as simple ornaments. The ornaments directly refer the parts of the titles (flames, sea) and boast lovely, subtle color palettes. It’s always particularly impressive when something looks almost too easy to bother with and yet is masterful.

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This cover designed by Gabriele Wilson also uses the traditionally printed words which are surrounded by a seemingly random, but really quite sophisticated composition of shredded paper strips. Together they create an atmosphere of mystery and maybe even danger but mixed with the kind of ennui in administrative offices (I’ve no idea what the book is about, just interpreting the cover image).

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One of the common – and usually quite successful and guaranteed to make us happy – tricks is writing made of paper which peels off, revealing something underneath it. However, in this design by Zoe Norvell, the three-dimensionality of the text doesn’t focus attention on the layer underneath. Instead it allows for its entanglement with the threads, playing on the title.

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And in this cover by Tori Elliot the cut-out of letters and shapes plays a more traditional function. It creates the clash between the simple white outer layer and the green illustration underneath, suggesting the lushness of jungle but also how it is not evident at first sight.

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This design by Sinem Erkas uses memo notes to refer to the theme of memory and as material for the creation of semi-spacial letters. Even though the letters are very simple in shape, they prove that the designer possesses a lovely sense of form.

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And here are sticker bookmarks used in an delightful – and impressive – composition by Jon Gray. Not only is this design a smart comment on the complexity of the novel, it is also very pleasing esthetically.

Finally, three covers by one of our favorite cover designers ever, an extremely prolific David Drummond. Mr. Drummond is the master of an ingenious idea realized often with minimalist methods, and quite frequently employing paper.

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Paper/page topography.

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Paper lettering.

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Remember we said it would be both minimalist and ingenious?

Obviously, this is only a small selection because paper might be the most versatile material designers get to work with and it allows for all sorts of solutions. Personally, we tend to be most charmed by simple-yet-brilliant ideas executed with a mix of efficiency and lightness, as evidenced above.

Also, traditionally we’re informing you about a 20%+free shipping promo on our Society6 stuff – you’re most welcome to visit our store.

 

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Last week we showed you a lovely Animalium book and promised that there are two. As you might already know or at least expect, the other one deals with the exciting world of plants and is called Botanicum. Having already enjoyed the one about animals, we were delighted to get the second part for last Christmas.

Just like the one about animals, Botanicum presents various families and groups of plants with gorgeous illustrations reminiscent of old encyclopedias. It’s both decorative and inspiring scientific interest.

Introduction.

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Elaeis guineensis (says Google Translate).

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Palms and cycads. (We love the little ideas, e.g. how one-color illustrations begin to form an ornamental pattern while in full color they are informative.)

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Rain forests.

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Trees. The pattern again and also this typeface works really well in this design.

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Fruit trees.

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Today we want to share with you the first one of two lovely books from our bookshelf. We got it a little bit by accident and really loved it. It’s illustrated by Katie Scott and called Animalium because, you know, it’s about animals. (Also, we got it in Polish so look at the margins for the translation of the spreads’ titles but you can easily get in it English.)

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The book recreates a natural history museum and present all sorts of animals in an educational (and lovely) way. On the cover you can even see a golden hotstamped ticket (in the top right-hand corner), which says “Animal Museum Ticket” (it says “Welcome to the Museum / Admit All” in the original version but I like the Polish version better, I think? by a narrow margin) and this little detail sets the tone for the whole book.

Welcome to Animalium. Introduction

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Inside you will find illustrations and descriptions of all kinds of creatures from across the whole animal kingdom, arranged according to clear criteria. There are so many things to love about the book:

  • Illustrations. They are obviously inspired by old scientific encyclopedic etchings, only more colorful and partly modernized
  • Title typeface, a pretty one by Hipopotam Studio
  • Lushness. The book is just full of gorgeous details and, as the ticket on the cover suggests, has a certain luxurious quality to it (also because it’s really big, format-wise)
  • No age limit. It can be exciting both for kids and adults. Our son loved Animalium even if he was technically too little for books
  • Educational value, no duh

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Cnidaria (admittedly, not a word I knew before)

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Amphibians

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Natural environment: woods

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Penguins

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Bats

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Rodents

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Library

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In case you want it, here’s a 3-day promo link for free shipping in our Society6 store.

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In the middle of winter (well, hopefully, at the end of it), we’re sharing a vaguely spring design we did last year. We created a catalog for an exhibition called Planting Seeds that happened in the Łaźnia Art Center. This was an event by Irwin group from Slovenia.

The exhibition was promoted with the photo of the artists who were, well, planting seeds and we needed to use it on the cover. At first, we planned to cut it into four parts, with different covers having different parts of the photo but it was necessary to use the whole photo in the end. So we arranged it in such a way that you can combine two covers to see all of it.

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Inside we used a bright pink color for one language version of the text and as a strong visual element. As a decorative motif we created a grid of dots to symbolize seeds and used them throughout the publication.

Title page with dots and pink.

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Close-up of the contents pages.

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Introduction to the catalog.

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As Irwin art is rather conceptual the catalog contains more texts than images so it was important to find a good layout for the articles.

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Catalogs – always one of the best kinds of job.

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You might remember our previous posts of literary primers by Jennifer Adams with art by Alison Oliver. Or if you don’t, here’s Dracula and here’s the gem of Pride and Prejudice. As we were visiting our friends, Z&A, we spotted on their bookshelf another book from the series: this time a weather primer based on Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. So, of course, we immediately borrowed it (thanks guys!) to share it with you.

This primer introduces weather-related adjectives with rather idyllic scenes from around Wuthering Heights.

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A short introduction.

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The doctor travelling through the mists.

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Sometimes “sunny” is a word you need to teach your child.

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But these days this feels like a more useful description.

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…Aaaaaand puppies.

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