I Love Typography’s 2020 Favorites

“It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since I published one of these annual Favorite Fonts lists. A lot has happened in the interim: I now have less hair, more grey hairs, sometimes complain about my back, and now live in another country! Anyway, that’s quite enough about me. Here are, then, in no particular order, my favorite typefaces of 2020…”

Some great choices here, especially:

A layer font — something described as “fashionable for a while” — this one deserves to be on a book cover.

Special mention: ILT’s web design. This blog and this entry both are easy to look at, well put-together, and something that makes me a little envious.

Read all of the 2020 favorites, or ILT’s main page.

Downtown Gallery Updated (and… Updated)

As mentioned yesterday, Gerald purchased a Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f1.8 — a very nice, German-owned (Japanese-made), manual-focus lens — last month, and he was kind enough to loan it to me for a couple of days.

We — that is, the lens and I — went for a short photostroll in downtown Macon this afternoon. Check the results in the updated gallery.

Edit, 6 March, 2021: I’ve rejigged the Macon galleries, and the featured photograph from this post is now in the Macon – Miscellaneous gallery (as the Catholic church is up the hill from downtown).

Rose Hill Gallery Updated (Again)

My good friend Prof. Gerald Lucas has been collecting lenses again, and since we both shoot with Leica L-mount cameras, we’re able to share — and he was kind enough to do precisely that. (Thank you, sir!). He’s added classics like the Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.8, Olympus Zuiko 28mm f/2.8, and Юпитер-8 (Jupiter-8) 2/50. (He’s added a brand-new Voightlander Ultron 21mm f1.8, as well — nice.)

Rose Hill and Riverside serve as familiar ground for us, meaning that when new photographic tools are available, we go there to see how well we work together; the gallery is twelve years old. See the update here. Enjoy.

Peter Mendelsund’s The Look of the Book

From Bookshop.org’s description: “Why do some book covers instantly grab your attention, while others never get a second glance? Fusing word and image, as well as design thinking and literary criticism, this captivating investigation goes behind the scenes of the cover design process to answer this question and more.”

“As the outward face of the text, the book cover makes an all-important first impression. The Look of the Book examines art at the edges of literature through notable covers and the stories behind them, galleries of the many different jackets of bestselling books, an overview of book cover trends throughout history, and insights from dozens of literary and design luminaries.”

Looks like great stuff (if you’ll pardon the expression). Get it from Amazon Smile or Bookshop.org. (Via Kottke, unsurprisingly.)

My 20 Favorite Book Covers of 2020

This list is simple and straightforward: these aren’t necessarily all of the best book covers of 2020, only my favorites — gathered from the combined lists of LitHub, Creative Review, NPR’s 2020 Book Concierge, and the Casual Optimist, along with sightings in the New York Times Book Review, BookRiot, and Spine Magazine. Interestingly, despite the year many of us would rather forget, the best book covers are, as usual, memorable.

My favorite, by quite a lot:

There’s no other way to put this: it’s brilliant. The Party Upstairs by Lee Conell; design by Stephanie Ross. Read about how it was put together, along with initial ideas and drafts, at Spine Magazine. Great, great stuff!

The rest, in alphabetical order:

On the one hand, exactly what you’d expect — except a) it’s a novel, and b) it’s not really what you’d expect. Nice. Design by David High.

The left and right halves here are a perfect union, and I’m a sucker for hand lettering. Design by Anna Morrison.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a two-color cover I liked so much — major kudos here. Design by Emile Mahon.

Blue tigers. Red eyes. Crooked title block. Yet somehow rich beyond easy description. (The author calls it “haunted by place.”) Design by Grace Han.

Can’t. Unsee. The. Rat. Home run of horror. Design by Wil Staehle.

Simple type that’s well executed meets brilliant original painting. Proof that less can be more, if you’ll pardon the cliché. Design by Stephen Brayda.

One of this year’s best uses of color, along with another great illustration. Design by Adalis Martinez.

This design has gotten a good deal of attention — and deservedly so. Eye-catching by fives. Design by Jamie Keenan.

Explosive. (Sorry.) Actually, I’m personally jealous of this one: it feels like one I would have done, given the sudden (and unlikely) moment of creative greatness. Design by Christine Foltzer.

The hand work on this one — both illustration and lettering — just make it. A universe of goodness. Design by Sara Wood.

Scary good. Well, just scary, really, especially for a resident of the South. Excellent design by Henry Sene Yee.

Retro style and simple typography combine to make something excellent. Suppose a cover, with design by Katy Homans.

When has one color print been more compelling? This book would stand out on any bookshelf. Imagination by Jack Smyth.

The original artwork (by Kai McCall) really grabs your attention … and then hangs on, staring straight at you. Wonderful. Design by Stephen Brayda.

Here, the simple background illustration is enormously enhanced by the choice of colors, the “heart” cutout, and typography choices. A case of 10 + 10 + 10 = 1000. Design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

Deceptive at first glance, the colors here keep adding up (to build on a theme). Another excellent example of hand-lettering adding so much, too. Another great design by Lauren Peters-Collaer.

Unexpected choices lead to great new places here, especially with the yellow band overlaying the wolf. So, so good. Design by Rachel Willey.

No speculation here: this one takes me by storm. (Sorry.) “We are not ready nor worthy” applies to the cover, as well! Design by John Gall.

Like Weather, Zo uses illustrations to huge effect — but this time with a huge typography effect to go along with it, and lo, it works. Great design choices by Janet Hansen.

Now, let’s all survive 2021 so we can do this again!

New Book Celebrates Risograph Printing

It took 850 days, 74 tubes of soy ink, fifteen colours, 660 masters, 690,000 sheets of paper, three fans, two digital Riso duplicators and four people to complete this 360-page book that focuses on one thing: the process of Risograph printing.

I have to admit: I hadn’t heard of risograph printing before — Wiki has a (very) brief intro — but the book looks like something very interesting indeed, along the lines of a Pantone catalog on steroids. Read more at Eye Magazine.

Dust Jackets: A History

Although books as objects have been around for many hundreds of years, by looking at the history of the dust jacket, we can see how young the modern book design really is.

Book Riot has posted the interesting “The History of Dust Jackets: From Disposable to Collectable” for all of our entertainment, education, and general love-of-books reading.

(Check out their “Why are Books That Shape?” and “The History of Deckle Edges,” too.)

American Alliance of Museums: Q&A with Book Designer

After reviewing hundreds of entries every year, the jury for AAM’s annual Museum Publications Design Competition awards only one publication with the Frances Smyth-Ravenel Prize for Excellence in Publication Design, recognizing it as the best submission overall. This year, the winner is David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire, a publication of the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, designed by Design Monsters studio. We recently talked to the book’s designer, George Corsillo,to learn more about the concept behind his prizeworthy design: a four-volume retrospective of the artist David Levinthal’s photographs which took two years to complete.

Read on!