I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

So there used to be these neat designer hangouts back in the day when there weren’t all that many web people – places where people could show off their flash animations and argue about web typography. (I really miss k10k!) On one of them, the now-defunct Speak Up, amazing Canadian designer Marian Bantjes wowed everyone with her experiments and ramblings. At the time I didn’t realize she was really just beginning her career – a career that, some 15 years later, is beautifully archived and laid out in this enormous coffee-table monograph.

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I’m crazy about her intricate, ornate calligraphic work, and I share her love of dense interwoven tiling patterns and bright colours – her work is totally attention-grabbing and very clever. She’s got an Escher-esque sense of pattern and translation and wraps her type in lovingly arranged swirls and swashes. Now and then she’s produced something so ornamented that it’s actually difficult to read, but I think it’s hard to find the limit of a piece sometimes until you’ve gone over it. Besides, a lot of her personal work explores the hidden and obscured – I know that there’s some intent there when I struggle to understand what’s going on in a piece.

I particularly liked her sometimes-hilarious little writeups about the projects – lots of gems produced under pressure. 🙂

Reading through her work was super inspirational, and it’s made me wonder what I’ve been doing with all my time while she’s knocking all of these amazing design projects out. Love this book, and I’m sad to bring it back to the library.

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