Thursday, 4:52pm
5 February 2009

The scariest taboo?

Sagmeister’s credit list questions designers’ reluctance to discuss fees

Abrams is about to republish Stefan Sagmeister’s Made You Look, first published in 2001 by Booth-Clibborn Editions, and reviewed in ‘Another self-indulgent design monograph’ (Eye no. 41 vol. 11). The book is exactly as it was, with perhaps a little more silvery finesse for the fore-edge (see foot of blog), and an overly dark shade of red for the transparent slipcase.

Given the vast number of design monographs – variously inspiring, smart, self-indulgent, baffling and plain dumb – that come the way of design mags, one of the more memorable elements of Made You Look is a credit section that details the number of hours spent on each project, together with the fee, cheerfully breaking a long-standing taboo among graphic designers.

Sagmeister also rates the quality of each project with a score – from 1
(H. P. Zinker album package, rated good) – down to 5 (packaging for DeathDrome CD-ROM).

Few design monographs are this open, though the recent For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis (Picturebox) – see review in Eye 70 – slapped a self-deprecating ‘turkey’ symbol on the famous British practice’s less successful album covers (including the Shadows’ Specs Appeal and Wings’ London Town.

Could this be the beginning of a new, ‘bare-chested’ approach to books about graphic design? [Look out for our review of Design Disasters in the forthcoming Eye 71, Ed.]

Not bloody likely: money and fees are never mentioned in magazines, lectures or even blogs.

Sagmeister: Made You Look by Peter Hall, designed by Stefan Sagmeister and ‘improved by Chee Pearlman’, is published by Abrams on 9 March 2009 ($40, £24.99).

Top: Detail from ‘More credits’ spread (below). Look closely and you will see that James ‘Blood’ Ulmer got a better deal than fellow jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. But the cover scored ‘3’ compared to Imaginary Day’s ‘1-2’, so that’s ok.

Above: Flex the book one way and the title is revealed on its silver fore-edge (flex it the other way for a pattern of bones).
Below: Front cover.

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Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly 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.