However, the typographical work in the window is to be applauded, in the age of all neat and boring computer based, pedestrian, conforming signage that has become the go to for many... I found the 'review and order sign' to be in tune ( no pun intended) with the nature of the shop. It is arresting in the fact that one can see that it is text but to engage/read it one has to stop and look to understand the massage plus it gives us a chance to peruse the window.
With books, I realise that this typographical treatment is suitable for certain subjects, it would not, for example work with more classical themes such as Withering (sic) Heights but on more urban and contemporary books it would be fitting. Indeed one could argue that many bookbinders suffer from what I call.. expectational or default lettering and titling. I know that there is a degree of skill required to do this and that on older books it would be correct... there are exceptions to this of course.... but is one just looking at skill? applauding the craft? Perhaps we could also look at more contemporary ways and themes in titling that are less of a label in nature and explore the art side of things more? I suppose that a balance could be strived for... However I feel that it would take time to educate or show clients different ways of doing things... but that could open a huge can of worms......... After all many bookbinders have made a living by telling their clients and students that their way is the only way... because that is how they were taught and that is all they know how to do......... Offering a number of alternatives would then bring in to question the validity of all the previous work done. As I say, a huge can of worms.
Is it a vicious circle? the binder does what the customer wants, the customer is not aware of what else is possible and goes with the default offered because that is what the binder offers and so on. There are, of course exceptions to this but in the main, and from my experience this is what happens.
It may be also the case that it is a 'safe' option. I have been to so many exhibitions of books and bindings over the years. Often I am in despair, beautiful work ruined with lazy lettering. Bling gold up or down the spine with little or no thought to the totality of the finished composition. Or the daring wavy line, you get my drift. The common option is not to title a book... I got into serious trouble when at college with my finishing tutor.... I argued that many paintings I had seen did not, in fact have the title of the work going up the centre of the canvas. Many were titled on the frame (in our case as bookbinders this could be the box, more about this later) or a discrete label to one side in the gallery environment.
I realise that for sets or editions of books... the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Waverly Novels it is important to have the individual volumes titled, that makes perfect sense. However, for the modern library/collection/gallery for the book is that really necessary? Most, if not all collectors know exactly where each and every book is, in fact most collectors in any genre know where everything is in their collection.
This thought drags me further...
For binders that come from a more arts background the working with the total composition of the book is not a problem. I feel the problem lies with the perceived conservative nature of book collecting.... dare one say the collectors? or the expectations of the collectors (please see above 'the circle') I know that many institutions actively collect contemporary works of a more robust contemporary nature as they are looking to the future, to have collections that show case the contemporary... it is important to realise that today's contemporary will be tomorrow's antiquarian.
These living collections are important and should be supported. However, in the wider world of the arts not only are there collectors that collect the safe works of the past, validated by time and expert opinion. But there are equally, if not more so, active collectors of the contemporary. The enquiring collector, the collector of the contemporary book that has their own agenda who engages with the now for the future. Collectors that actively seek the non-conformist, eccentric and the bizarre. If I may cite one collector from the not so distant past.....
A collector that patronised artists of the time when they were derided, misunderstood, thought of as having no importance or peripheral at best. Not only did this collector buy but also encouraged others to engage in the now, believing that the art was of the next decade. I speak of Peggy Guggenheim.
This brings us to the world of book arts. As I progress with my work and life I have begun to engage with this genre in the book making world. I admit that in the past I was a bit of a book snob. Though I produced a number of book works I was unable to cut free of the shackles of the finely bound book, working towards the mastering the complexity of the book... dare I say I was blinkered? In retrospect it is only over the last 15 or so years that I have been able to bring together the various disciplines of the book with the art of the book (though I am sure many who will argue I have neither) It has taken time for me to be able to engage and combine. However I feel that working in this way I am able to be honest with my work, to reflect the now as opposed to rebinding the past. It is a personal journey.
Please note there are other ways of doing things and opinions..... spelling and grammar. Please further note, the opinion of the author may change at any moment. This is due to having an open mind... of sorts.