I am collaborating with a poet, Christopher Ellott, to create my next book ‘Dance’.
This will be a small limited edition of 7 poems and illustrations and a screenprinted cover. It will be launched at the Rope of Words exhibition. The size is 14cm wide X 30cm high when closed.
I love calligraphy – don’t get me wrong – but I don’t think it’s always the best solution. The illustrations have a slightly calligraphic feel to them. I did a bit of market research asking people from different backgrounds, who did not necessarily have a calligraphic bias, what they thought. I asked family, a literary festival curator, 4 book artists and 4 calligraphers:
- Tessa (daughter): Graphic designer: Without a doubt it MUST be calligraphy and a font. When it is just calligraphy it loses impact.
- Megan (daughter) Writer: I prefer the mix, I like the contrast and the cleaner feel.
- Des (brother) Geology on mines and photography: I find the font easier to read so the poem flows, with the caligraphy I find ones eye stalls on some words and the flow of poetry is lost.I love the illustrations and the bold calligraphic line in the middle.
- Writer / literary festival curator: I would prefer calligraphy for the front cover and with the illustrations but a clear, easy to read font for the poetry. Otherwise, the design gets in the way of appreciating the poem, My personal view is that the words should be able to speak in a poem. Because the visual image tends to be stronger than anything else, if i see beautiful calligraphy I am admiring the artistry rather than engaging with the words.
- From my Open Books, Artist-bookmaker’s group:
- Response 1 (used handwriting a lot in her books) : I find myself liking the calligraphy + font better. I think it ‘showcases’ the calligraphy element more. Plus, I think a lot of non-calligraphers can find all calligraphy hard work.
- Response 2: (uses handwriting a lot in her books) I echo the above.
- Response 3: Artist bookmaker, calligrapher: I feel in this instance the clarity and beauty of your calligraphy and the relative shortness of the poetry make this (the hard work bit) less of a problem. Both would make a delightful gift, but the calligraphic version has the edge.
- Response 4: Artist bookmaker, not a calligrapher: “To font or not to font – that is the question?” I think on balance I agree in terms of accessability for non-calligraphers. However, I am absolutely torn as the calligraphy is so beautiful!!!!!
- Maestro Calligrapher 1: My daughter is a GCSE art student so asked her opinion as well. We both think all calligraphy (and she’s not biased as calligraphy isn’t her “thing” at the moment). We both think the softer lettering calligraphy offers sits well with your style of illustration and you are able to echo the colours as well.
- Maestro Calligrapher 2: If the font is a good design it can enhance the calligraphy, so I prefer both! That said, if the font is clunky it can kill the calligraphy but you are ace at fonts so no worries there!
- Maestro Calligrapher 3: Oh my friend! both are wonderful! If you do only calligraphy it will be a precious piece of art If you add the the font it will be poetry beautifully illustrated with calligraphic lines and a tiny bit more legible Your choice is between having a calligraphically illustrated poem or a calligraphic piece .
- Maestro Calligrapher 4: Definitely Calligraphy
So there you have it! In a nutshell.
I was surprised as I felt that I should do the calligraphic one to give it a special “feel”. You are welcome to add your thoughts, although I have already decided in favour of the calligraphy / font mix. Another reason for this which I didn’t put to you, is that it has to be scanned then printed and sometimes some of the qulaity of calligraphy can get lost in scanning. So it will be the font. This is a beautiful font and you can see by this enlargement that it has entasis – a thinning in the waist. It is Calligraph 801 Italic.