Marian Bantjes has been variously described as a typographer, designer, artist and writer. Her work has been published in over 50 books and magazines, she has spoken at over 100 events worldwide, and her work is included in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. She has authored two books published by Thames & Hudson: ”I Wonder", and "Pretty Pictures" (a monograph of her work). She is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI).
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Foreword by Stefan Sagmeister
208 pages / Hard cover
15.5 cm × 24cm (approx. 6 × 9½ inches)
Printed in full colour plus gold throughout.
List price: £19.95 / $40
Published in the UK by Thames & Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-51529-7
Published in the USA by The Monacelli Press, ISBN 978-1580932967
This book is my masterpiece. I spent 15 months between 2009–2010 writing, illustrating and designing it. It’s a gorgeous hardcover, with gold and silver foils on a satin cloth, with gilded page edges. It’s printed in 5 colours throughout (mostly CMYK + Gold) on a coated stock. At a smallish size, it is a book meant for holding and reading, curled up in your favourite chair.
Every single illustration is new, created for the book, and the content is not about my work (i.e. not a monograph), but instead combines graphic art with the written word, and lends my own contemplative but frequently amused voice to my observations of the world.
Some of the articles were originally published as blog posts for the now-archived blog Speak Up, but they have been resurrected, edited, rewritten and given new life in these pages. Those quirkier writings are interspersed between more philosophical musings on the nature of Wonder and Honour and Memory as they pertain to graphics and the visual world around us.
The book is in many ways eclectic, with a variety of forms and moods, represented in an abundance of typefaces and graphic styles. But, much in the way of one of my favourite films, the documentary “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” by Errol Morris, this disparity picks up threads one from another as it progresses, and starts to weave together in a unified whole.
Ultimately the range of thoughts, personal history and hare-brained ideas come together. To the eyes, it is a feast for visual gluttons, but as those who are familiar with my work will already know, there is food for the mind and the heart as well.
While the book will be enjoyed by designers and our ilk, it also has a broad range of appeal. The thoughts and experiences within are largely universal, and at times very personal. Buy one for your mother! Your nephew! Your boyfriend!
“…I am compelled to write about “I Wonder” with as much flourish as is graphically demonstrated on page after page; I find the book that engaging. […] Bantjes’s deceptively compact trove of visual riches, whose floriated cover design is printed in gold and silver metallic inks, with gilt-edged pages that suggest a venerable religious document, is packed with as many stylistic variations as are possible by one author/artist/designer in 192 pages. And it is a wondrous, if breathless, display of virtuosic craft. […] not a typographic jewel or fleuron or dingbat (as printer’s decorations are called), not a scratch or scribble or scrawl (as some of the typographic techniques should be called) is out of place.”
— Steven Heller, “Graphic Content | Marian Bantjes, Illuminated”, New York Times Magazine
Foreword by Rick Poynor
272 pages / Hard cover
26 cm × 35cm (approx. 10.25 × 13.75 inches)
Printed in full colour throughout
About 800 colour illustrations
List price: £42 / $75
Published in the UK by Thames & Hudson, ISBN 9780500517000
Published in the USA by Metropolis Books (DAP Artbook), ISBN 978-1938922220
This is it. This is the monograph of my work. It comprises almost everything I’ve done from 2003–2012. It took me a year to compile, design, write and produce (working once again with the wonderful Lucas Dietrich from Thames & Hudson). It contains somewhere around 800 images, including sketches and rejected concepts, with descriptions of each project and my thoughts (often painfully honest) on each.
While many monographs truly are just books of pictures, I wanted to create a book that answered many of the questions people ask me about my work, and showed both the process of some of the pieces and the progress and development of my career over the past 10 years. This book is full on intense. It’s not the type of thing you flip through and absorb at a sitting. In my usual manner, it is dense with imagery and information. The book may seem expensive but you get a complete wealth of information.
My intention was and is to never speak about this body of work publicly again. Everything I’ve ever had to say about the specific work is here: the details, the anecdotes, the stories. It is done.
I was also thrilled to have Rick Poynor agree to write a Foreword to the book, and in this he exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t ask for a nicer Foreword by a more eminent person.
Pretty Pictures is arranged chronologically. It begins with a quick overview of my career as a book typesetter (1983–1993) and then as a graphic designer (1993–2003) with a splatter of thumbnails from my work through that time, and then jumps to the heart of the matter with the work I started on my own in 2003 in an attempt to make a living doing work that I love.
Each year begins with a synopsis of how I felt about that year’s work. Projects are listed by the month they were completed, with descriptions of the work, how the job went and my opinion of the final, with significant projects expanded to include sketches and other elements of the process where useful.
An index in the back lists projects by name, clients, groupings (“Posters”, Patterns” etc.), materials (“Pasta”, “Tin Foil” etc.), categories (e.g. “Rejected. See also Died, Killed”) and a list of Fonts used in projects. It also includes lists of other books and magazines my work is in, and conferences I have spoken at (up to September 2013).
While most art and design books are designed around a strict grid system, I needed more flexibity than this could afford. Because the book contains so many projects, some important and some minor, and because I already had a chronological structure I decided to allow myself to put the projects in any size that made sense and create structure out of each page spread. I allowed some fudging on the time scale (perhaps by a month) to accomodate interesting parallels between work and the visual balance of pages. This made things harder for myself than plopping things into grid spaces, but it makes a much more dynamic and interesting design overall.