Tuesday 29 September 2009

American Earth and de Vicq de Cumptich

A beautiful recent purchase is the Library of America's American Earth: a cornucopia (1000 pages) of  writing about the environment, the American wilderness, and the future of the planet. Any anthology which includes both Rachel Carson and Robert Crumb is doing something right, and this thing is gorgeous.

It has a dustjacket (designed by the wondrously named Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich) which does not quite cover the boards beneath, letting you know that there is something more going on under there.

And there is.

(Click for bigger versions of both.)

The painting is 'A Lake Twilight' by landscape artist Sanford Robinson Gifford, and is exactly right for the book: the human element in the painting is right to the forefront, and yet dwarfed by the natural world around it.

Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich has designed a lot of other beautiful covers, shown to good effect at his website. I could post dozens of them, but I'll limit myself to his picture book, Bembo's Zoo.

This book is a work of design genius. An alphabet book, with an animal for each letter, is a straightforward idea. However, this book constructs each animal entirely from the letter forms in its name, using only the Bembo typeface. As an example, here are B for Bison and P for Peacock.


An elegant (and noisy) website promoting the book also features animations for each illustration, showing how the animals were constructed.


Derek said...

I don't think I'd like to own a book where the jacket didn't quite fit. It would slip up and down, and you could never get it to align with both the top and the bottom of the boards at the same time.

JRSM said...

In theory I'd agree with you, but in reality it's just so damn nice that I don't mind.

Bob Fingerman said...

Lovely stuff. The Bembo book looks very interesting. I'll have to take a look next time I hit the bookshop.

JRSM said...

It's such a simple (and yet odd) idea, beautifully done.

Anonymous said...

About the LoA cover, I wonder if the designer was influenced by the poster Luba Lukova did in 2001 (she also did the art for our One-Straw Revolution book). It too depicts a bird made up of smaller elements. You can see it on Rene Wanner's really cool Poster news site: http://bit.ly/mSsil

JRSM said...

That's a lovely poster--thanks for the link. Luba Lukova was new to me, but now I'm going to have to seek out more on her.

Alan said...

The Book Design Review also recently posted a book with the same bellyband-just-shorter-than-the-book idea - http://nytimesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/09/asterios-polyp.html. I really love both. (Though someone raises the issue of how practical it is over there as well.)