japonisme: influence

15 December 2008


there is only one problem with hannah sigur's beautiful new book the influence of japanese art on design.

it's not the choices of images; they are throughout wonderful selections, often selections rarely seen in books on this subject.

and it's certainly not the content. ms sigur manages enormous amounts of historical detail with dexterity and grace. she's clearly fascinated, and it's contageous. in fact, the depth of these discussions are as poetic as they are comprehensive.

no, the problem is something you may have already noticed: the images here are only minimally smaller than the ones in the actual book. these gorgeous illustrations are all but lost to my old eyes, as is the type.

visual clarity has been sacrificed to lean and stunning design: wide empty margins beg the question: couldn't you have had smaller margins and bigger pictures, larger type?

still, i must admit, there are enough treasures in this volume to gratify any enthusiast, and the softly glowing metallic cover makes it an appealing gift indeed. from gibbs-smith.



Blogger Princess Haiku said...

It is sad that the lovely illustrations are so small. I wonder if it was a cost savings decision.

15 December, 2008 21:04  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

well, i hadn't thought of that, but i can't see how it would be. it appears to be a design decision (did you look at the amazon inside view?); it's so graphically laid out that form appears to trump content.

making wider use of the space on a page doesn't cost any more, and though i'm way not up on printing technology these days, i know in the old days a bigger "color separation" cost more than a small one (i think), but nowadays i would assume one does that all in house.

hmmm i wonder....

still, the cost difference, if there were any, would be minimal, i'd bet.

15 December, 2008 21:38  
Blogger Karla said...

It sounds like a design decision to me. And a stupid one. I'll bet most of the readers are over 40 and have all the same problems with it. It's bad enough picking up books whose typefaces were legible to me 20 years ago and are now painful, but art reproductions?

Hey, now that I'm back in the Bay Area for a couple of weeks, I should quiz you on the best things to put into the Japonisme section of the 19th-century course I'm about to perpetrate...

19 December, 2008 23:13  
Blogger john hopper said...

I don't think the images are small to save money. It just seems to be the design of the book. It does seem strange that the illustrations take up less room than the text, but there you go.

As an aside, it's really annoying that Amazon.com allows you to flick through the book while Amazon.co.uk only allows you a close up of the front cover, and we all know how misleading that can be.

20 December, 2008 05:27  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

karla--ahhh a woman who understands! and sure. you could come over and go through the books too if you wanted.

yeah, i agree, john. a case of beautiful design biting its own tail.

and re amazon: who knew??! well, at least it doesn't cost any more to look stuff up on the us one!

20 December, 2008 09:03  
Blogger Karla said...

I'm doing a week out of the 19th-c course that looks at Japonisme, although I don't know whether it will be more a one-day or a two-day thing. Since I don't know where you live these days, do you want to meet someplace like Fat Apples (either location)?

20 December, 2008 10:40  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

sure, we could do that, or you could come here--i'm near the monterey market

20 December, 2008 11:01  
Blogger Karla said...

Whatever/whenever works for you. Well--today isn't good for me but after that is pretty flexible time-wise.

20 December, 2008 11:12  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

email sent, sort of

20 December, 2008 11:37  

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