Working with artist Susan Zimmerman was a designer’s dream project. I was referred to Susan by printer Tim Malott of HF Group. Susan is a ceramicist and photographer. I met with her to discuss her book, The Light in the Kiva and wrote an estimate for book design. I have always wanted to design an art book! “The Light in the Kiva takes you inside the casita in Taos, New Mexico, where she photographed the shadow flames that danced across her sculptures as sunlight set the kiva fireplace aglow.”
Tim Malott of HF Group provided the printing specs: an 8×8’’ book, paperback, 108 pages. My creative quote included cover, interior page layout, and final artwork for the printer. Armed with both the printing and my designer’s estimates, Susan applied for a grant to create a book that showcased her recent work.
After several months, Susan was awarded the grant, and we started the book-design process. We looked at other art books in her genre. There were tons of decisions to make. What did other artists do? What was the flow of the book? How were the works of art placed on a page? What was her overall goal for the book?
Susan started by using a notebook as a rough simple layout to help understand the page flow. I coached her on the sequence: Page 1 is the title page, followed by copyright, contents, and intro. A quick test layout determined the word count for the preface (the amount of text to fit on two facing pages). The back of the book included Acknowledgments and About the Artist. Working backwards, we subtracted the page count for the front matter and back matter (8 pages). The remaining 100 pages were for her artwork.
Keeping a notebook was perfect way to accomplish a visual “manuscript.” We joked about being a sous chef — Susan would organize her materials (text and photos), and I would “make the soup.”
Susan had hundreds of photos of her work. It was daunting task to select which images to use. She narrowed her choices down to eight porcelain pieces. Each chapter highlighted a piece, starting with an opening spread (2 facing pages) with the title, size, date and a short paragraph that described the artwork. The following pages featured additional photos of Susan’s unique art of sculpting with sunlight on her ceramics, which creates clayscapes reminiscent of the sandstone landscapes of the American Southwest.
I also designed marketing materials for Susan: business card, rack card, notecard, and a simple website for Light in the Kiva.
Thank you Susan
This was a dream project for me! How fun to do an art book with beautiful images. The project went smoothly and looks fabulous. Susan said: “I am so overwhelmed by your beautiful and elegant design. It is exactly what I hoped it would be!” It was a pleasure to bring Susan’s vision to light.