The making of the Graphic Style: From Victorian to Post-Modern by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast

Overview• Process

Receiving the translation, editing it and sending to the typesetter who studies the layout of the original edition and creates his own.

Typesetting several pages, checking the layout, working out principles for placement of illustrations and captions. Retypesetting the first third of the book several times over before finding a more or less acceptable solution.

Typesetting two thirds of the book and stopping. We find the result disappointing.

Reworking the layout, retypesetting the third time over from the very beginning.

Searching for an expressive way to show the chronological order of graphic styles in the introduction.

Assembling the title opening.

Asking the type designer to draw nice dropped capitals for each chapter.

Before:

Here are the capitals, each in its own style.

After:

Now that everything’s settled with the matter and the binding, sending the book to the proof reader and starting to work on the dust jacket. Sending two ideas to the art director:
1. We can blend pictures of different epochs with something like a glitch effect to have everything move and float and sometimes come into focus to shape a style.
2. Or do the opposite: a colored cover and a white dust jacket with holes in it. A large collage on the cover.

The art director approves the glitch. Explaining the idea to the designer. The standard layout for the cover is a 3×3 or 4×4 grid. The easiest way would be to simply use examples from the chapters. But since it’s too easy, we can do something different: show it as an uninterrupted tradition, life that slows down for a moment when a style has taken some canonical shape. Which is to say that the cover is a story not of the graphics, but of the book, of the book’s approach which tries to freeze and label the enormous fluid graphic mass.

Starting to implement the idea. Choosing pictures characteristic of the most recognizable graphic style periods and coming up with several blending effects.

The pixel one looks best. Starting to elaborate. How about some noise?

Art director: Nope, that’s worse.

Art director: I want to make sure the transition pixels between the squares are more pronounced which would help get rid of six distinct squares on the cover and make the transition smoother.

Going back to the pictures.

Art director: I recognize the first three and the last one, but not the rest of them.

Reviewing the evolution of graphic styles, singling out the most characteristic stories. Replacing the last iTunes parody with a more canonical image. Ultimately, arriving at this:

Starting the final drawing. Creating a grid to make sure all pixels align nicely.

And gradually bringing it to completion.