Monday, January 31, 2011

Illuminated Typography

For my first official design-related post, I am happy to share a designer whose work I obsess over--er, I mean--"admire greatly"......Marian Bantjes. For the past year or so, I have been "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" over her beautiful typography in ad campaigns like Saks Fifth Avenue and in the New York Times Magazine. She recently wrote and illustrated a beautiful book called I Wonder. This past November, Bantjes, introduced by fellow designer Paula Scher, gave a lecture on her new book at an AIGA NY event held at F.I.T. So, naturally my friends and I went. We even met her! (That is, if you count following her down the crowded streets of Manhattan "meeting" her.)

It is evident in both Bantjes' design work and creative process that she is inspired by the illuminated manuscripts of the Medieval period in Europe and the Middle East. Her work is highly decorative, often featuring delicate interlocking elements and detailed patterns. Bantjes incorporates everyday found objects in her work, creating intricate patterns with things like dried pasta and flowers. In her talk, she spoke a great deal about her process of designing, showing photographs of her home studio in rural Canada as well as video documentation of her creative process, noting that her pieces often takes days to create. You can't help but note similarities to the Medieval monks and scribes, working day after day to create highly-detailed one of a kind scripture manuscripts. Every visual element of her book I Wonder serves as an homage to the illuminated manuscript with embellished drop cap characters and gold decorated "carpet pages". I Wonder even has the same hefty price tag common with Medieval illuminated texts (a wopping $40 on, "hefty" at least for the average college student on a budget ;)

For more pictures and information about Marian's work check out her website:

And her Nov. 1st, 2010 AIGA NY lecture "I Wonder":

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