We consider it an honor to have the iconic graphic designer Art Chantry as a guest contributor to Marquand’s blog. Below is an essay from his “Familiar Quotations Vol. 2” series. Look for more of Chantry’s writing to come.
alvin lustig was one of the most inspiring and prolific (and maybe among the very best) graphic designers of the last half century. he designed countless book covers, advertising, magazines (including the peculiar “gentry” magazine). unfortunately, he had the misfortune of dying before graphic design became such a popular sporting activity. the result is that nobody seems to remember him. like william golden or bradbury thompson, he’s been remaindered to that heap o’ exquisite designers thrown in the closet (and the landfill) so that we may worship at the shrine of paul rand (who managed to outlive all of his more talented competitors.)
Continue reading: “From Familiar Quotations Vol. 2”
Guest contributor Paul Barrett shares some good reasons why we shouldn’t be afraid to leave widows and orphans hanging.
In four years as a professional book designer, I spent more time eliminating the pesky little grotesqueries known as widows and orphans than I did anything else. Everyone I worked with, in-house and out, seemed to operate under the assumption that, aside from a bad break or a stack, nothing ruined a layout, and therefore a book, more thoroughly than a widow or an orphan.
Continue reading: “Orphans and Widows, Widows and Orphans”
Guest contributor Will Gillham offers tips on how to remember more of what you read. Here, he explains his system of tried and true reading notations.
The more gentle and reverent bibliophiles (i.e., collectors) among us will blanch at the mnemonic practice detailed in the following lines. If you count yourself among these good people, be forewarned: this post is about marking in books.
It was out of necessity in college (I possess whatever is the opposite of a photographic memory) that I created my own set of signs and symbols for marking a book so I could reread it in about half an hour. I drummed them up because I couldn’t stand the crass, abusive, and distracting underline, which I loathe in books. I still use the symbols. Excised from the text and then collated together, the passages I mark (always in the margin, lightly, in graphite) compose a Will’s Notes synopsis of a book.
The most basic (and most used) mark is a simple horizontal hash flaring off into the margin next to any sentence that is important to the subject as a whole. For example, while reading Ron Powers’ biography of Twain last evening I used the hash next to a line that revealed the one racist strain the great satirist was never able to personally jettison: his bias against Native Americans.
If the important passage runs longer than a line, I modify the horizontal hash to suggest, a bit arbitrarily, how far down I should read. The starting point of this mark is the hash, but I then add a vertical line descending down the margin, like a capital T; the length of the vertical post can travel anywhere from an eighth of an inch (just a couple of sentences) to an inch (at least double that). If the entire graph is critical, I flag it with the manuscript editor’s paragraph symbol.
Will explains: This is a page from Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Some twenty years after I first read it, the line with neighboring checkmark still seems reasonably pragmatic to me today. The T below the checkmark means begin reading here, and read for several lines. The brief passage indicates a fundamental tenet of Jung’s psychological philosophy—i.e., important to review—and, after all these years, reminds me that if he’s right, my unconscious and I remain almost complete strangers.
An x beside a line ratchets up the importance: this is going to be on the test. While reading Dava Sobel’s awesome little book on the history of the chronometer, I put an x next to the sentence revealing that even though Galileo, while bored sitting in church, was the first to imagine the pendulum clock, it was Christiaan Huygens who actually made the first successful pendulum timepiece.
The remaining marks in Will’s Notes are much less academic. A checkmark beside a line or poem title means simply that I like it—a lot. Again, in Powers’ book I found myself placing a check beside the line, “‘If Christ were alive today,’ Twain wrote in one of his notebooks, ‘there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.’” An exclamation point is for those “Whoa, that’s crazy!” passages, and the editor inside me (who does not shut down) draws a circle around any mistake I find.
Finally, there’s the infinity symbol. This lyrical mark illuminates any line that, for whatever reason, resonates with me, applies to my life or worldview, or is beautiful. In the margin of Bob Dylan’s autobiography, an infinity mark sits next to the line: “My grandmother always told me to be nice to anyone I met, because you never know what they might be going through.” This distilled truism sticks with me because anytime I’ve revisited that book, a subtle mark leads me back again to the profoundly imitable wisdom of Bob Dylan’s grandmother.
Will explains: This is a page from David Cordingly’s excellent book on the history of pirates. It shows a hash and a T mark, the latter of which recalls my attention to the fascinating insurance policies of the booty-stealing demographic. Would you have guessed that the highest payment went for the loss of a right arm?
Will Gillham is Director of Publications for the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.