L’art dans la décoration extérieure des livres


Back at the fin de siècle with this study by Octave Uzanne of book cover design in the 1890s. L’art dans la décoration extérieure des livres is over four hundred pages of very varied designs, from covers for popular novels to the state of the art by usual suspects Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Ricketts et al. Léon Rudnicki provides the cover and some interior illustrations. The examples below include pieces by Symbolist artists Félicien Rops and Franz Stuck, as well as one of Alphonse Mucha’s designs for Judith Gautier’s Mémoires d’un Éléphant blanc. The complete book may be browsed here or downloaded here.



Continue reading “L’art dans la décoration extérieure des livres”

Designing Booklife


I created a cover design recently for Jeff VanderMeer‘s new novel, Finch, and shortly after completing that Jeff asked if I could put together some cover ideas for his forthcoming writer’s guide, Booklife, which Tachyon will be publishing later this year. Jeff is known as a fantasy writer but this book was intended to have a general appeal for any would-be or working writer. It also needed to look suitably contemporary and (possibly) reflect the discussion within which concerns the modern writer’s use of computers, the internet and social networks. Lastly, several lines of text needed to be placed on the cover without it looking confused or messy.

I agreed to this whilst busy with several other projects so the initial drafts were rather haphazard. (That’s my excuse, anyway.) The first version (above) came out of an idea to apply a kind of trompe l’oeil effect to the cover with a torn dustjacket and handwritten amendments. The red call-out/roundel highlights an important sub-section of the book. This was knocked up very quickly and, as well as not looking very contemporary, the title doesn’t look enough like gold blocking to be convincing. Jeff requested something more up-to-date.

Continue reading “Designing Booklife”

Ma Petite Ville


A typically splendid fin de siècle cover design by Léon Rudnicki for an 1898 volume of childhood memoirs by Jean Lorrain (1855–1906). The author was a flamboyantly homosexual poet, novelist and journalist whose addiction to ether and other excesses ended his life at the age of 50. Philippe Jullian is quoted on glbtq.com as saying Lorrain was “truly, at the fin de siècle, Sodom’s ambassador to Paris”. Jullian, as I never tire of repeating, wrote the best book on the Symbolist period, Dreamers of Decadence (1971), and that quote reminds me that I ought to track down a copy of his Lorrain biography.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive