Paperback. Softback. Hardcover. Dust-jacket. Words to comfort every book fetishist and print lover. This year, the Australian Publishers Association (APA) Book Design Awards will celebrate the best of book design in Australia for the 60th time.
Much has changed in the world of publication design and certainly in the design of books for young people. Sydney based designer, Zoe Sadokierski, has been nominated for The Best Designed Young Adult Book for ‘The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower Volume One)’. D*Hub talks to Sadokierski about iPads, die-cutting and monkeys.
You’ve been nominated for the Best Designed Young Adult Book in the (APA) Book Design Awards? How does it feel?
I feel enormously proud to be nominated, especially with such strong work in the field.
Do you think the type of book covers that attract attention have changed significantly over the past 60 years?
Yes, definitely. You can always trace cultural shifts in style, ideology and technology through the design of the times. I was lucky enough to see an archive of past catalogues from the APA Book Design Awards dating back to the 1950s. The design of the catalogues alone told a beautiful visual history of Australian book design, but particularly looking at the winning book each year, you could see prominent shifts in what the industry as considered excellent design over time. Those of us in the room found the period between the 1980s and 90s, when desktop computers radically altered the tools of the designer, painfully amusing.
Tell me about the process of designing a book cover?
As a freelancer, I will be contacted by a publisher or editor responsible for the production of a particular book, who have sought me out based on my previous work. They will send me a written brief, but more importantly, we will discuss what the book is about, who the audience is, and where they would like it to sit in the marketplace. Based on the written and conversational brief, I will supply several ‘roughs’ with different design approaches. These will be discussed by the publisher/editor with their internal marketing and sales departments and also the author. A period of back and forth conversation (and sometimes re-briefing) involves me sending ‘progressive roughs’ and getting feedback to refine the design. This exchange could happen once, or fifty times, depending on the book (no, I’m not exaggerating!). When it gets final approval by publisher, editor, marketing, sales and author, I finalise the artwork and send it to the printer. Then something magic happens in a factory somewhere, and a few weeks later I receive a copy in the post and it’s like Christmas.
Is there still a lot of work out there for book designers in 2012?
Yes. As a freelancer, you need to maintain your relationships with publishers and there are periods where the work slows down for you, but people love books and more importantly for designers, people love books they can cherish.
What are the current trends in book design?
Often the trends in book design are linked to technological advances that allow better or more varied paper stocks or special finishes (like foiling, embossing, die-cutting) to become more affordable. In the Australian market, cook books have become visual/tactile objects of desire in the past couple of years. Having the budget to play with the material aspects of a design – stocks and finishes – can be rewarding for the designer and the reader, but once something has been done a few times it loses its engagement.
Do you enjoy designing for books more than for web or digital output? How does it differ?
I’ve loved books obsessively since I was very young. The solitary and deeply personal engagement you have as a reader with a good book is, to me, a unique experience with the book form. I don’t have the same experience with a digital device as I do with a paper book. I love the way paper feels when you turn the page and I love owning a copy of a book that is just mine. I own an iPhone, an iPad and I sit in front of a screen most of my waking day, but I will always love print most.
Tell me a bit about your design background and career to date.
I studied Visual Communication at UTS and worked happily in-house at Allen&Unwin for a few years before being lured back to UTS to write my doctoral thesis. I now freelance as a book designer, teach in the Design School at UTS and am researching where print is headed in a digital age.
I’m finishing the design for Isobelle Carmody’s strangely beautiful collection of stories, Metro Winds. I’ve got an exhibition with my colleague Kate Sweetapple at the DAB LAB Gallery coming up in August called ‘Unlikely Avian Taxonomies’ and I’m working on a solo project about monkeys.
In the video below, Sadokierski talks about a previous exhibition which looked at the importance of the typewriter to the writer. Sadokierski’s exhibition, Type Horses: Writers & Their Typewriters,was part was part of Sydney Design 2011.