Richard Serra and his work have been crucially formative in the development of my thought, design practice, and sculptural practice. I've felt very strained lately between my passions for graphic design and sculpture, and have felt a longing in one for the benefits of the other.
Graphic design has a very clear anti-intellectualism revolving around a lot of the community, focusing more on aesthetic than theory and history, things that are increasingly valuable to understand for differentiating products and brands in a globalized economy.
Sculpture, especially interdisciplinary sculpture, is very much based in intellectualism and understanding, with concept being key to the use of material, space, time, and all matter of mediums and frameworks of thought. However, sculpture also can be overly intellectual and become separated from things that apply to everyday viewers and society in general.
The strain of missing intellectual engagement in graphic design and missing human engagement in conceptual sculpture has led me to think more about how I might be able to meld the two practices so that they can inform each other.
The first step in this venture was simply to merge graphic design and sculpture in the simplest form I could think of—a booklet with text and photos of a sculptor's work.
Space was something that needed to be considered first, determining scale, size, margins, and various design choices like typesetting and composition.
Contemporary sculpture often deals with space inherently, and Richard Serra's work does this more than most. So considering the way elements interact with whitespace was an important factor of this project, as in any project—however it was particularly important to the idea and execution of this booklet.
Type choice for the project was also particularly important in serving the whitespace in the booklet, needing letterforms with certain characteristics that made the use of space more impactful.
I developed a very eclectic mix of typefaces, each serving its own purpose. The table below illustrates those purposes and specific use cases.
|Titling Gothic FB||Bold||Primary section titles|
|Leitura News||Roman 1, Roman 3||Main body text|
|Sweet Sans||Bold||Page numbers, Minor typo-visual accents|
By giving each typeface its own job, I was able to bring together a diverse range of typefaces with very different characteristics to create a cohesive and deeply layered typographic system that draws from the use of material, space, and form in the work of Serra.
Aside from informed typeface choices, a lot of work went into getting the ideal line length, leading, tracking—all those fun formal characteristics of typesetting. After endless tweaking and fiddling with just about every type option in InDesign I got that sought-after perfect edge in my justified text without any widows or orphans.
Giving Richard Serra's work room to breathe and be admired while still serving the text was a worthy challenge.
The primary approach I used to accomplish this is by mirroring the text structure and layout with the imagery, and vice versa.
This system of creating layouts that complement the content of the photographs included throughout the magazine develop an interesting relation between text and image and draw more attention to the photo by letting the text recede naturally.
Below is a copy of the publication on Issuu to flip through; you might not be able to hold one in your hands but this is the next best alternative.
The final product of the booklet was everything I wanted it to be. The way sculptural thinking and design were able to inform each other was very enlightening for me and is helped pave the way for a more extended dialogue between the two practices in various forms and mediums.