Beautifully Briefed, December 2021: Holiday Edition

Beautifully Briefed, December 2021

It’s the yearly wrap-up and the holiday season! Recap and Rejoice!

Hermès Does Windows

“Journey of a Lifetime” is this year’s window display for Hermès — yes, Hermès should have an accent, but I can’t seem to summon it today fixed! — so let’s go with a picture instead:

Hermes window display

All in paper. No, let me repeat that: it’s all paper. (Well, perhaps some glue.) From artists Zim and Zou. Here’s another, one of their earlier works:

Zim and Zou, previously

Read more at This is Colossal about the window and the church. Nice.

Yule Ogg

While we’re on the subject of the holidays, check this out:

Yule Ogg

That’s right, it’s one of those four-hour Yule log videos — but with a twist. Those are wooden type pieces going up the flame. Check it out, along with the backstory, at It’s Nice That.

Top Architectural Photography Projects

Closing out, we start the year’s “best of” round-ups, this one Dezeen’s top 10 architectural photography projects of 2021:

Soviet (Asia) Photography

Above, Soviet architecture, central Asia, by Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego. Below, Structure Photography by Nikola Olic:

"Poetic" Architecture Photography

The latter is called “poetic,” a description I’d completely agree with. The Mother Road, USA, by Hayley Eichenbaum (previously mentioned) is there, too. Enjoy.

That’s it until after the holiday. Around the first, stay tuned for my favorite book designs of 2021 and more. Take care!

Beautifully Briefed: Icons and Typography, Mid-June, 2021

Three items for you here, starting off with the 2021 Logo Trend Report, from the Logo Lounge. From the Asterisk to Electric Tape, Quads, Chains, and more:

2021 Logo Trend Report

Bill Gardner discusses all fifteen different trends, with logos to back ’em up (naturally).

Next, “A Cabinet of Curiosities” from Hoefler & Co.

Printers once used the colorful term ‘nut fractions’ to denote vertically stacked numerators and denominators that fit into an en-space. (Compare the em-width ‘mutton fraction.’)

This is beautiful:

Dutch Curio, H&Co

A Dutch curio, representing the letters z-i-j.

Read all of the rest.

Lastly, these are amazing . . . and simple, the better form of “simply amazing.” Yeah:

111 Shadow

See the rest at This is Colossal.

Happy June!

In Stitches (of CMYK)

In “XXXX Swatchbook,” Evelin Kasikov explores all of the variables of CMYK printing without a single drop of ink. She catalogs primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, two-dozen combinations showing how rotation affects the final pigment, and a full spectrum of rich gradients. In total, the printing-focused book is comprised of four base tones, 16 elements, and 400 swatches of color entirely hand-embroidered in 219,647 stitches.

Six years. Six years.

More @ Colossal.

Inside Hook on Peter Mendelsund and book design

In fact, for all his acclaim in the field of book design, Mendelsund himself isn’t particularly fond of book covers, generally seeing them as an impediment that inevitably colors a reader’s perception of a book. “As much as I love book covers — I love making them, it’s fun — I don’t love the fact that there’s somebody between me and the text.”

These days, actually, the renowned book designer who never wanted to be a book designer tends to simply rip the covers off his books altogether. “If it’s a paperback, I’ll rip the cover off,” he says. “The books that are most important to me in my life don’t have covers on them.”

I didn’t know Peter Mendelsund’s name off the top of my head [Memory not what it used to be? —Ed.], but we’re sure familiar with his work, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Atlantic’s recent redesign. And what an interesting relationship with book design he has. Read more

The New Website and Foreword Blog

Back in the ’90s and Aughts, my ex-wife and I ran a popular book design blog called Foreword. For a variety of reasons, from divorce to moving to Georgia and then deciding to do photography full-time, I got away from it. I even let the company name, ospreydesign, get away from me.

I’ve been seriously regretting losing Foreword for a while now — and its return one of the driving reasons for the new web site. Part of that has to do with a return to book design, and wanting to comment on the same, but also because I don’t do social media and have wanted a space to talk about — and get feedback on — items to do with book design, photography, and so much more. There’s no place better than your own web site. Thus, Foreword is back, this time as part of my personal site: gileshoover.com.

Memory Lane

Here’s what ospreydesign looked like way back when:

ospreydesign as of February, 2001

The site evolved, but only to a point — those were the days of having to pay attention to screen width. Remember: 15-17-inch screens were the new hotness; 13-inch was more normal. (Hence the small layout.) There was something comforting about it, though, and this look preserved for years. Here’s another screenshot:

ospreydesign’s home page, as of January, 2007

Foreword, a relatively new item called a weblog, or blog, was both a vehicle of discussion and publicity. And it worked — this little blog grew and gained followers, basically riding the early “wave” of blogs.
Here it is from 2005:

Foreword in March, 2005

The “look” changed shortly after, while the popularity continued to grow. Here’s another, from fourteen months later:

Foreword‘s new, wider-columned look, from June, ’06

At this point, Foreword was at its utmost; thousands of readers, #1 in a Google search for “book design,” pretty much everything — and I, quite frankly, blew it.

The Photography Era

Changing my priority to photography full-time was both awesome and a completely mixed bag. I absolutely loved the instant results of digital photography, and enjoyed the possibilities of editing them; filters, textures, black and white, and more. The creativity was more immediate, as well, in that I was my own “editor,” for lack of a better term, not answering to as many people as designing books can be.

Making money was more difficult than with book design, but somehow more exciting; in many ways, it’s a performance art — I had to get it right at the time (there are no redos — events move on!), then make it better in the edit. But, I quickly found that weddings and events were not my strong suit. Like many making a profession out of a passion, I too often clashed with the “vision” thing; what I wanted to do — architecture, landscapes, “things” more than people — wasn’t what you made money on.

Maine Schooners, 2009

Worse, I was ahead of an extremely powerful wave: photography as something ubiquitous. With the rise of everything from a flood of new folks doing photography full-time to practically everyone “being” a photographer with just their cell phone, there was absolutely no way I could make the success out of it that I could have had I just stayed with book design first and photography second. Sure, I still did book design — I was early in the photography book genre — but photography as a career waned after a few years.

Lesson learned.

New Memories

So, Foreword has returned, and book design is again what I do first, with photography back to being a passion instead of a full-time job. I’m better for it, frankly; so, hopefully, will my readers, as we can again share my love book design — along with why I’ve returned to it full-time.

Having a blog again also gives me a chance to talk about design, book production, photography and how they’ve changed in the intervening years, and recommit myself to regular posting; something I’ve missed and hope others have, too.

Welcome back.