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So far ceci has created 48 blog entries.


In the last posting about Helvetica I mentioned the typeface Meta. Anyone interested in typography should become familiar with Erik Spiekermann, the person who designed Meta.

Spiekermann recently has rebranded his design firm as SpiekermannPartners. Here’s a great statement about their recent work for PC Professionell magazine: “Our task as designers was nevertheless to make the content look good and not show off with all sorts of graphic gadgets.”

Spiekermann’s blog, SpiekerBlog 2.0, is worth following for its nuggets of information such as this posting about the redesign of The Economist.

Another typography site has a brief interview with Spiekermann where he is asked the one thing that every student of typography should know: “That you are designing not the black marks on the page, but the space in between.”

Stop Stealing Sheep

Finally, if you want an introduction to typography then consider reading Spiekermann’s book Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: typography|Tags: , |1 Comment

Everyone’s excited about Helvetica

Helvetica – everybody knows it.

Our friend Eric sent us an interesting link from the Toronto Star about the 50th anniversary of Helvetica, the official typeface of the 20th century.

Helvetica is getting a lot of attention for its 50th year. For those around New York a year long exhibition about Helvetica just opened at MoMA.

Helvetica the movie

There’s even Helvetica: a documentary film by Gary Hustwit. We want to see that but, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be coming to Buenos Aires anytime soon. Meanwhile, there’s trailers and photos from the film on the Web site and even a blog about the Helvetica documentary. Now, that’s a good feature for a film site.

Helvetica the book

And there’s even a book about the font, Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface.

The International Herald Tribune also gets into the act with its own article about Helvetica.

All this attention would make Helvetica’s original designer Max Miedinger proud.

Over the years

But Helvetica today isn’t quite the same as it was 50 years ago. The typeface has been expanded and updated twice with Neue Helvetica in 1983 and Helvetica World in 2001.

Fonts Old & New

The Toronto Star article has some great quotes about other fonts that many people use everyday. The Helvetica imitator known as Arial is described by one designer as a “parasite.”

And anyone who ever uses Comic Sans (and there are a lot of people out there who do) should please take note: “Comic Sans, a typeface that bestows one’s writing with all the verve and elegance of Porky Pig.”

The Toronto Star rightly asks if Helvetica will survive another 50 years. Frutiger, produced by the same foundry (Linotype) as Helvetica, is mentioned as a leading competitor.

Yet, oddly, as I read about the popularity of Helvetica I find little mention of the Meta, which is the favorite font of many designers today. Meta is often even called “the Helvetica of the nineties” and the “successor to Helvetica.”

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: typography||1 Comment

Along the Streets of Cartagena

Along the Streets of Cartagena is a book under development that examines the historical district of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Architecture is a particular focus of the book. The entrance doors to buildings are one of the most distinctive aspects of architecture within the walled city of Cartagena. Hence, for the cover of this book we decided to utilize a photograph of an actual door in Cartagena.

Door in Cartagena

We’ve also created an alternate cover below with the image of a different door.

Door in Cartagena

By |April 21st, 2007|Categories: Book Design||Comments Off on Along the Streets of Cartagena

Why are South American book covers so bad?

Or, maybe it’s just in Argentina that most book covers are truly horrible?

The Cultura section of this past Sunday’s Perfil, a very good Buenos Aires newspaper on Sundays, ran a profile of novelist David Leavitt. As you can see in the snapshot of the article, Perfil – as does many papers – likes to highlight the book covers of an author for the readers.

Let’s look a little closer at those splatches of yellow and red that Anagrama calls book covers. (Actually, Anagrama is based in Spain, so the problem is more global than just South America).

At the very top is Baile en familia, known in English by its original title of Family Dancing: Stories .


Let’s compare that to it’s norteamericano cousin:

Buy on Amazon

Hmmm, quite a contrast there….Let’s compare a few more….

Arkansas: Three Novellas

Arkansas Arkansas

The Body of Jonah Boyd: A Novel

Body of Jonah Boyd bodyofjonahus.jpg

It’s not the price

One possible reasoning for the lesser quality book covers could be the price. But, wait, the price of books in Buenos Aires is no lower than the price of books in the U.S. So, that doesn’t explain it. In fact, the price of new paperback books in Buenos Aires is actually higher than the price of new paperback editions in the U.S.

I think that it’s simply because many foreign language publishers do not value the book cover. Well, actually, I think that it’s because many of the foreign language publishers are just too cheap to pay designers a decent rate for a nice cover. But, those publishers should realize that a good book cover actually helps in selling more books. For the publishers and bookstores, at the end of the day, it’s all about selling books.

I want to see better book covers on the shelves of the bookstores in Buenos Aires!

By |April 6th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |2 Comments

Teaching Design at UBA

Fridays are special days for me, from 2 till 6 pm I, with a group of people, run a class called Typography II at UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires). It is a year-long course where Graphic Design students learn book & magazine design, so it’s a very interesting process that we all, students & teachers signed up for.

Today starts our year, there’s usually about 150 students divided in 5 groups of 30 with 2 teachers or a teacher and an assistant each, and the staff completes with 1 JTP (-jefe de trabajos prácticos- chief for practical works), 1 head of Typo II, and the head of the course.

This is the kind of experience that always gives you a lot more than what you can expect: it empowers your vision to new approaches, gives you the possibility of understanding other points of view, and one great thing is that it allows you to interact in a very different –not competitive– way with other designers/teachers, people that most times are in the same frequency in terms of design.

It’s pouring rain, so we’ll see how many show up.

By |March 30th, 2007|Categories: teaching||1 Comment


¶ What is a book cover? what is its function? many times when I’m in front of a manuscript that is going to evolve into a book, I ask myself those questions and try to answer it by grabbing the feeling of that writing, to translate it into a graphic work. What is a cover if not that thing which is going to “cover” the writing awaiting to be read, a veil that protects the content from being read until it’s time. But, at the same time is the anticipation of what is going to be found on the inside, a little of the flavor, the taste that the book will remain with the readers.

By |November 7th, 2006|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on EVERY BOOK (COVER) tells A STORY

THE FEAR of the WHITE PAGE (Whitespaces part I)

Okay, some time ago Jeff came with the idea that I should start a book design blog, since then it’s been on my mind, and since about a week ago I’m wandering around with a list of topics, titles, links, etc. but couldn’t sit down and write the first post. A couple days ago I became conscious about it and tried to “capitalize it” (lateral thinking, whatever!!), and thought about it in terms of design, because we designers, deal with white space all the time, and white space need to be designed and “capitalized” depending on each situation, for example in a novel the most important thing is to be the best quality reading possible, for which I would decide to use the white space for a good bottom margin, which holds the block of text, and then giving a good leading to make the reading smooth and pleasant.

…first post done.

By |October 20th, 2006|Categories: Book Design|Tags: |Comments Off on THE FEAR of the WHITE PAGE (Whitespaces part I)

Book Design

Even in this technology age, where you’re even reading this online, books still surround us everyday. This blog, obviously, is dedicated to book design: exploring those aspects of design that make each book unique while also examining the craft that makes a set of cut, folded, printed, and bound paper into a book.

This blog will talk about typography, cover art, the layout of a book’s interior as well as other topics relating to book publishing. Along the way will be specific advice on using tools such as Adobe InDesign and a wealth of insight into book design.

By |October 18th, 2006|Categories: Book Design|Tags: |Comments Off on Book Design