Monday, September 8, 2008

A mix of Jenson and Contemporary Blackletter

Searching through the AIGA Archives, I came across this book design that included Jenson along with a contemporary form of blackletter that really caught my eye. The 1999 book design published by Horse and Buggy Press is titled "An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold." I was only able to borrow the image of the front cover to show the delicate balance created by the designer between the contemporary blackletter type, credited as Goudy Lombardic Capitals, and Jenson.

I found the choice of typefaces for this particular book theme fitting, especially on the cover that sets the overall tone of the content of book, which is from the 16th century. But what I find most interesting on this cover is the mixture of Jenson and the Goudy Lombardic Capitals form of blackletter. In class we discussed that blackletter was formed to be illegibile so that lower classes couldn't read it, and then Jenson was the first successful roman cut typeface design created for purpose that people would be able to read it. This cover has two typefaces that back in the 15th century might have caused controversy due to the contradicting typefaces. In my opinion, whether or not the designer did it on purpose, I think it's very well designed!

The inside spreads are handled with Jenson and Jenson italic. (You can go to the AIGA Design Archives and search jenson under book designs and find this book design to view the inside spreads.) The inside of the book contains a pen and ink drawing of a creature to compliment a poem on each spread. I personally loved the use of typography and artwork in the book. Jenson a clean, easily read type, balanced well with the intricate designs.

Michelle Elkin

1 comment:

April G. said...

The credits note that "In reference to the historical nature of the book’s content (17th­ century Elizabethan bestiaries) and the medium of illustration (pen­ and ­ink drawings), the book was printed in black ink with red titling." I'm curious as to what the black and red ink symbolize? Reading this comment makes me think that those two colors must mean something. Then, it makes me think of a poetry book that I own "A New Treasury of Poetry." Paging thru the book I noticed that it's done in two colors - red and black. Are the colors somehow linked to this time frame of poetry?

Regarding beastiaries and the blackletter type on the book cover, I found this link on bestiaries. Examples of the books and illustrations are shown, and you can see the use of blackletter type in the message that accompanies each illustration. I'd like to know if the blackletter was repeated anywhere on the inside pages of this book as the sample pages show only Jenson used inside. The blackletter on the front cover definitely sets the tone of the book, and the use of Jenson keeps the poems legible.