Monday, 1:00pm
8 April 2024

Books received #57

Three titles: Smetnje u prijemu slike from Croatia; Charlene Prempeh’s Now You See Me!; and New Rules Next Week: Corita Kent’s Legacy through the Eyes of Twenty Artists and Writers

In the latest ‘books received’ post Eye takes a brief look at three titles: a Croatian book about design and photography; a polemical overview of Black design; and an educational response to the legacy of Sister Corita Kent.

Smetnje u prijemu slike / Interference in the picture reception: transfers of photography in design, by Marko Golub and Deyan Kršić (HDD, €12).

The catalogue to an exhibition about photography and graphic design in Croatia is full of striking images from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Cover of Smetnje u prijemu slike: transferi fotografije u grafičkom dizajnu 19601990 (‘Interference in the picture reception: transfers of photography in design’).

Curated by critic Marko Golub and designer Dejan Kršić, its modest format contains work by some of Croatia’s best known designers, including Boris Bućan (see Eye 92) and Mirco Ilić alongside equally powerful work by their contemporaries, including Ivan Picelj, Boris Ljubičić, Milan Vulpe and many others (see ‘Between histories’ in Eye 25). Golub’s lucid summary of the push and pull between the designed object and the photographed image is pinned to a time before the digital revolution, pointing out that designers frequently used photographic techniques to generate images, such as the blurred forms in Dušan Bekar’s Vizualne Kumunikacije poster and the reflected circles in Ljubičić’s identity for the VIII Mediterranean Games (1979) in Split.

Spread featuring a 1962 poster by Dušan Bekar. The main part of the book is in Croatian, followed by an English translation with picture page numbers in the margins.

Spread featuring works by Boris Bućan (see ‘Take my concept’ in Eye 92).

Now You See Me! by Charlene Prempeh (Prestel, £24.99).

This recent hardback edition (designed by Silas Munro’s studio Polymode) is part survey, part history, part polemic.

Cover of Now You See Me! designed by Polymode.

In addition to many examples of Black designers in the worlds of architecture and fashion, which take up the bulk of the book, author Charlene Prempeh discusses the work of designers Emory Douglas (b. 1943) and Art Sims (b. 1954); graphic artist Charles Dawson (1889-1981); ad man Emmett McBain (1935-2012); Jackie Ormes (1911-85), known for her postwar comic strip Torchy Brown; and contemporary cartoonist Liz Montague, said to be the New Yorker’s first Black cartoonist. There are a small number of contemporary visual examples, including Tyana Soto’s 2021 poster for the virtual conference ‘Where are all the black designers?’

Prempeh (founder of British studio A Vibe Called Tech) writes: ‘I scratch my head at the absence of a Black graphic design studio to rival the giants; I am baffled by the persistently low numbers and visibility of Black people in the profession.’

‘The Black Design Experience in Graphic Design’, spread from Print, 1968, which Charlene Prempeh discovered via Letterform Archive (see Eye 100).

The ‘Graphic Design’ section of Now you see me! includes a chapter about Emory Douglas, whose cover for The Black Panther Newspaper vol.2, no.18 (1968) is shown in this spread.

New Rules Next Week: Corita Kent’s Legacy through the Eyes of Twenty Artists and Writers (Chronicle Books, £12.99).

This slim volume aims to bring some of Sister Corita Kent’s methods (see ‘All you need is love’ in Eye 35) to a new era of design education.

Cover with belly band reproduces Sister Corita Kent’s Ten Rules.

For each of Kent’s celebrated Ten Rules, a writer responds with a short essay and an artist contributes a piece spread of graphic art. The introduction, credited to ‘the Corita Art Center’ states that Kent honoured ‘the student by not assuming that they entered the classroom bare of knowledge.’ The contributors include Handbuilt’s Juliette Bellocq, Gail Anderson, Lisa Congdon, Erin Jang, letterpress printer Amos Paul Kennedy Jr and some of Kent’s former students and colleagues.

For example, Rule 9 states: ‘Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.’ Karina Esperanza Yanez, observing that Corita’s rules took on a whole new meaning in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, writes: ‘Rule 9 does not always force us to be cheerful … it does not sensationalise or romanticise the struggle of being an artist. It asks us to navigate at our own pace and comfort.’

The book is divided into ten chapters, each responding to individual ’rules’ made by Sister Corita Kent.

Spread with Erin Jang’s typographic reaction to ‘Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment’.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.