Colin Tillyer and Adrian Hau in the Graphicat Studio.
The Foundation’s book layouts rest on well proven methods, not on beguiling computer-driven design.
For creating effective layouts paper and pencil sketches, often scribbles on the backs of pads, are central to the process. One initial design concept for the Foundation’s first book was, memorably, finger-drawn onto the dirty bonnet of a car. Although inputting and refining one book’s photo-and-text layout may take months, with gradual improvements that seek an integrated ‘whole’, very rarely do we meet as a team – or discuss design – in front of a computer monitor. Layout assessments are mostly made using printouts: black text and photographs seen clearly on paper, for later adjustment on screen. As with any good design intuitive touches, and practical know-how, matter as much as digital expertise.
The selection, sequencing and sizing photographs is bedrock for any photo-led book. Indeed, overly generous photo editing is often the downfall of otherwise strong books. Deleting images, when each has some merit and even a story, is hard. But rigorous editing is essential to making books where all the photographs have a proper place. Then there is the sequencing and inter-relating of images, with the aim of creating coherent ‘photo stories’ – in the long and memorable tradition of Life magazine. This is challenging but always rewarding. As the image sequencing approaches its completion, the form and story of each book gradually appears. The sum begins to seem greater than the parts.