being invisible


A recent project we recently completed for our longtime friend and collaborator Christina Wright became a little object lesson in the art of being invisible.


The project was a monograph of the paintings of Ann B Kobdish (Christina’s late mother). The quality of Ann’s work is impressive, and we immediately understood that we would be doing a disservice to the project if we competed with it. Instead, we thought of design as an invisible structure whose one purpose was to present the art to the viewer. Being invisible was the task at hand.

ann book spread 1


From then on, we established some pretty strict self-imposed rules. The first one being that no color or even grays should be allowed in anything other than the paintings. The only color we used in the design was black, and that was used in only one thing: text. The second was that every aspect of the book, including its size and proportion, was designed to create the biggest, most functional space for the paintings.

In terms of type, we used one type family. Avenir is friendly and structured. It is a slightly warmer version of a typical clean sans serif that would be at home in a museum. Layouts were created with the idea that the text would accommodate or reinforce painting compositions without appearing gimmicky.

ann book - interior C

The resulting book has been produced, and it was well received. The paintings are spectacular and layout of the book really lets them shine.

ann book - interior A

ann book - interior B

Eric Shew is a graphic designer and front end developer living in Bellingham, Washington.

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