Judging a book: Exhibition features cover art

By By Steve Coons

By Steve Coons

The annual 50 Books/50 Covers exhibition displayed on thse fourth floor of the Marriott Library, features books of exemplary design printed in 2007 and evaluated and selected by jurors in 2008. The exhibition is mounted by AIGA, a professional association for design.
Entrants to the competition designated whether they wished to be judged on cover alone or on the design of the entire book. David Wolske, designer for the Book Arts Program and the U’s Red Butte Press, explained that this can be an important distinction.
“It’s not uncommon for different designers to work on the interior and exterior of a book,” Wolske said.

Through the competition and the exhibition, AIGA hopes to create an “authoritative chronicle of outstanding design solutions, each demonstrating the process of designing, the role of the designer and the value of design,” according to the website.

The designs of some of the show’s 50 selections are ingenious, as with Tener un patito es útil (To Have a Duck is Handy), a book the website describes as telling “two versions of the same story, from two perspectives using the same images.” On one side of the book, a child finds a duck and uses it as a hat, while on the other side, a duck finds a child and uses it as a watchtower. Other designs were set apart for their commercial viability. For example, the covers for a series of reprints by small publishing house Les Allusifs sought to “reflect a lighter mood and make a strong impact on bookstore shelves,” according to the website.

Along with the different types and methods of design, the show also exhibits differences in scale. Although some of the titles on display would be difficult to find in Barnes & Noble8212;especially esoteric design catalogues and foreign titles that are unavailable in the United States8212;many of the books are mass-produced by large publishing houses. In these instances, Marnie Powers-Torrey, head of the Book Arts Program and Red Butte Press, believes that the traveling exhibition’s function is contextual.

“I feel these books deserve to be dramatically presented in a setting where they are identified as artifacts of a series of production processes completed by talented human minds and hands, rather than simple carriers of information produced through faceless means,” Powers-Torrey said. “Yes, they are mass-produced in many cases, but with extreme thoughtfulness.”

50 Books/50 Covers is co-sponsored by the U’s Book Arts Program and the Salt Lake City chapter of the AIGA. The exhibition will officially open Thursday with a reception on the fourth floor of the Marriott Library from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Joseph Peterson/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Isol, an author, illustrator and designer, tells two stories from two perspectives using the same images in the accordion -fold book Tener Un Nene Es til (To Have a Duck is Handy).

Joseph Peterson

The cover of the book Reading Comics and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk, as designed by De Capo Press, is part of the exhibition at the Marriott Library. Wolk?s book examins the graphic novel?s place in modern art.