Image from Notes on Book Design, Derek Birdsall, 2004.
In 2014 we were commissioned to design a book coinciding with Ella Kruglyanskaya’s solo show at Studio Voltaire. Kruglyanskaya’s work often plays with shifts in scale as small drawings are transposed to the surfaces of larger canvases. There the stroke of a pencil is scaled up into the chunky mark of a wax stick, while pieces of sketch paper may be represented as enormous trompe l’oeil. Kruglyanskaya only draws from her head, never from life, which creates a closed loop of mental reference as she circles back to her preoccupation with female bodies and their embellishment.
For this project, Derek Birdsall was instructive for us. He is perhaps the ultimate art book designer, and we skimmed through his Notes on Book Design before we began conceptualizing. One particular example we liked was a Rembrandt monograph he designed using the ‘actual size’ full-bleed page convention to make a reproduction in which the reader can see the brush marks, the underpainting, the raw physicality of an art work.
This was our jumping off point for Kruglyanskya. The book was conceived as a series of actual size full-page fragments wrapping around signatures of sketches. Similarly, the cover is a continuous image bisected by a spine. Throughout the book there’s an interplay of pretty, classical typography against brutish heavy typography. It’s this contrast of various stocks, methods of reproduction and typographic gesture that become a metaphor for Kruglyanskaya’s way of working and her way of thinking.