Monday, 17 November 2014

My Favourite Book Cover: John Clifford

As I am off to Berlin  this week it seems only fitting that this edition of "My Favourite Book Cover" should be bought to you by The Bauhaus courtesy of New York based graphic designer and author John Clifford of Think Studio.



"Though I could probably write an entire book on my favorite book covers, I'll narrow it down to one that was influential in my design education: Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919-1923, an exhibition catalog cover designed by Herbert Bayer, who was both a Bauhaus student and teacher, in 1923.

I was a design student in the 1990s. Graphic design, or at least the design I noticed, was pretty complex then, with layers upon layers of texture, distorted images, and blurred or distressed type. It was chaotic. Messy. Sometimes illegible. I didn’t think I could ever design anything like that. I’ve always preferred being neat and clear and direct. In my uneducated mind, since all designers seemed to be doing that grunge thing, you had to do grunge if you wanted to be a designer. That, and the fact that I struggled through my first studio classes, made me unsure about this whole design thing.


Then I took a graphic design history class. I used to think of history classes as stuffy and dull. Not this one. I was floored: the simplicity and starkness of El Lissitzky; the asymmetry and white space of Jan Tschichold; the abstraction and restraint of Herbert Matter. And, the Bauhaus exhibition book cover by Herbert Bayer, with the big, bold, red and blue type filling up that square space. Nothing else to complicate it; just type. And look at how different the S in the first line is from the S in the second line!  It gave me hope: If Herbert Bayer could accomplish a lot with a little, maybe I could, too."



John Clifford is the author of Graphic Icons: Visionaries who Shaped Modern Graphic Design, and the creative director of NYC design firm Think Studio, focusing on identity, digital, publishing, and print design. He also teaches at Parsons School of Design.

Many thanks, John!

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