I thought it might provide a little variety to this blog if I write occasional posts about books made by other people. Some will be artist’s books, others will be books on subjects like design and typography. Today’s book qualifies as all of the above.
Almost a year ago I posted a Friday Night Flick of Marian Bantjes’ Ted Talk. Here is my review of her first book, I Wonder. The review was originally written for Book Arts/Arts du Livre Canada.
The editor having allowed me five hundred words for a review of I Wonder by British Columbia author/graphic designer Marian Bantjes, I find I do not need that many. All I need to write is ‘Buy This Book!’ Of course, a more detailed explanation might be useful.
The book is beautiful. Too often publishers fail authors and designers in the production of the physical embodiment of their ideas, but this is certainly not the case here. The book is lusciously printed and decently bound.
And the contents? Bantjes’ essays and accompanying illustrations/graphic designs/typography are energetic, entertaining, enthusiastic, effervescent, eccentric, and occasionally (as in the specially designed typefaces used for the folio called Secrets) enigmatic. Although the folio titles might lead the reader to think that this is a collection of essays on highly disparate topics, the voice of Bantjes and her cogent observations on design and visual culture link them together to form a coherent whole. She has written thoughtfully about the way she sees the world, and produced wonderful visual accompaniments that work integrally with the text.
The essays range from the serious to the seriously tongue-in-cheek, such as an analysis of the letters of the alphabet in terms of contemporary design standards. The graphics range from borders evocative of illuminated manuscripts or Persian tile mosaics to illustrations and lettering produced with every day materials such as pasta and breakfast cereals. Bantjes is equally at home with drawing by hand and with digital processes.
For those of us who are interested in such details, Bantjes provides not a colophon, but three detailed pages under the heading “Notes on the Production”.
I Wonder will delight anyone who is interested in design and typography, or who just wants an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a thoughtful and highly talented individual like Marian Bantjes.
Just a note on the images: the pictures included with this post are not the ones that accompanied the original review. I have selected them from several other reviews available on the web. Images 1, 4, and 6 come from Quipsologies; 2, 3, and 7 from Awwwards, and the rest from Design Notes. You can view the links to see more pictures.