Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ex Libris

Last semester one of my favourite typography assignments was to make a personalised ex libris, or bookplate. An ex libris serves the same function as scrawling your name in pencil on the inside cover of a book, but humans are never really ones for function without ceremony. I really get a kick out of it, that the design of this tiny device has over the centuries developed into a minor art form with its own visual language and conventions. I guess if there's anything that'll bring people's competitive design instinct it's a stamp that says "this is mine".

Making the linocut.

The print.

It was a really great project. I got to mix art nouveau, typography, Oscar Wilde, William Morris and aestheticism all into one big messy monogram for myself. And I really dig the focus on line and positive and negative space you get with printing. So a couple of months down the line when I saw the Roost's awesome Rubber Stamp exhibition the first thing I thought was "dude i should make an ex libris stamp". Which is pretty much the only time I've ever thought "Hey, I should design something ... for fun." But my bestie's birthday was coming up and I reckoned it would make an exceptionally awesome gift.

The circular vine device is gacked from a Kelmscott edition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's verse. Plagiarism is ok if you steal from the dead.

Figuring out dimensions. 

Final artwork ready to be sent to the local stamp shop after a heap of scanning and finicking about in illustrator. And yeah, Newcastle has a local custom stamp shop - how cool is that?

The finished article! Thanks to the birthday girl herself for this photo. I was way too excited after picking up the stamp to remember to take a photo before sending in the post. It turned out great! So much of my work never leaves the computer screen, it was kind of satisfying to make a real object that needs to be physically stamped on physical books. And if you want to see some more cool ex libris art, check out the pinterest board I used for inspiration for this project.

1 comment: