As part of my design process, I wanted to look at some more older book designs as I feel the book designs of today conform to design norms in their appearance, We often hear the phrase less is more and while its true in some cases, I also think its an excuse for designers to leave out graphical elements to the design perhaps to rush the book through. So I decided to look at three books with many example book designs. 1. “The Japanese photobook 1912-1990”, 2. “The Soviet photobook 1920-1941” and 3. “The Soviet photobook 1920-1941”

The first book “The Japanese photobook 1912-1990 (Kaneko et al., 2018) book design examples struck me as being comparatively much more dynamic and sharper than the other books I had seen. Many of the designs were powerful but added an almost seriousness to the images. I noted also these book designers were not afraid to use multiple images on one page and were happy to add multiple tones of colour and high contrast images. with some images,

I think this almost graphical view of a photograph gives me the options to add more narrative to certain types of images. In the example below both images show a group of people together at barber event in Hong Kong  , but I think the black and white image is less of an impact on the eyes and is calmer, now I was at the event and this was a dynamic event and people were busy and constantly moving, so the second image using the quadtones and adjusted contrast and brightness, reflects this event better than the first.

Black & white Temple of Groom 2017 Event Photo by Paul Peach 2017
Quad Tone image Temple of Groom 2017 Event Photo by Paul Peach 2017








The second book displays the work of avant-garde artists, designers, Illustrators, printing and bookmakers from 1920-1941. These artists and photographers were charged with the creation of powerful publications of books and magazines to promote the political movements of those times.

I think looking at many of these books designs and photographs give us the sense of urgency and at the same time there is smoother more elegant but at the same time more empowering images.

Having studied the varies aspects of some of the key elements of design in these books as with the Japanese style of designs I wanted to incorporate some of the best aspects of these avant-garde styles of illustrations and book layouts and designs. My own design so far is more about allowing the images to tell the story as much as I can and dividing the images into themes and sections. one thing that’s clear in the “The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941″(Karasik and Heiting, 2015) we can see how elements of simple illustrations and varied photograph layouts and styles can work together without taking away the value of the photographs.

These sections and themes need space to breathe to allow photographs to interpreted in sequence. below are some examples of a few ideas.

The third book “Film posters of the Russian avant-garde. 1st ed” (Pack, 2017) is another exciting book to see great examples of montage and cinematic techniques, such as close-ups, extreme angles and lithography printing techniques and juxtaposed action from one scene to another. Using film credits as part of the design. we can see from below the vivid colours used. I think this reminds me of my own influences with graphic novels with artists such as frank miller.


The Happy Canary film poster by Vesolaya Kanareika collection of author page 236-237, Pack, S. (2017)
Miss Meno, film poster by Georgii & Vladimir Stenberg page 138-139, Pack, S. (2017)














Kaneko, R., Heiting, M., Forbes, D., Junkerman, J. and Matsumoto, K. (2018). The Japanese photobook 1912-1990. 1st ed. Germany: Steidl Publishers.

Karasik, M. and Heiting, M. (2015). The Soviet photobook 1920-1941. 1st ed. Germany: Steidl.

Pack, S. (2017). Film posters of the Russian avant-garde. 1st ed. Germany: TASCHEN.

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