Guild of Book Workers Newsletter
Number 110
February 1997

Book Reviews

Biblio: The Magazine for Collectors of Books, Manuscripts, and Ephemera. Eugene, Oregon. 1:1 (July-August 1996). ISSN 1087-5581. $34.95 per year (12 issues). P.O. Box 10603, Eugene, OR 97440; 1-800-840-3810; or Stocked by many booksellers.
Biblio began publication with three issues in 1996 (July-August, September-October, and November-December) and goes monthly with the issue of January, 1997. A glossy magazine (printed on four-color web offset presses by Publisher's Press in Shepherdsville, Kentucky on Frostbrite Coated Matte 60 lb. text and Northcoat 100 lb. cover, per the colophon,) each issue offers a number of columns (Nicolas Basbanes, Jack Lepa, Frank E. Grizzard, Jr., Brian Hodges, Ian McKay and others), several departments (clubs and societies, bookfairs and shows, etc.) and half a dozen articles. The first three issues offer nothing specifically on the book arts, but with Priscilla Juvelis and Sandra Kirshenbaum among the members of an editorial advisory board, articles will doubtless be coming along.

Bill Gray. Complete Studio Tips for Artists and Graphic Designers (revised by Paul Shaw). New York: W.W. Norton, 500 Fifth Avenue, NYC 10110. (xvi), 248 pp. $20/US, $26/Can. ISBN 0-393-73000-x (pbk.)
Reviewed by Richard Miller, Abraxas/Peppermint Press
As promised, this is a book of studio tips, though perhaps not complete, and a studio in this case is a place where illustrations and words - either typeset or handlettered - are combined into ads, flyers, brochures, books, etc, usually in preparation for printing. Originally published in 1976 "at a point midway between the demise of letterpress printing and metal type and the emergence of digital type and production" (as Shaw says in his preface), Studio Tips for Artists ... was a distillation of Gray's 50 years' experience in commercial art. Presented in simple graphic style, one tip per page, the directions all hand written in a plain but elegant cursive, the tips cover all aspects of studio activities starting with organization and including tools, supplies, lettering (and working with words), layout, painting, etc, ending with some business tips. Following the success of his first book, Bill Gray issued More Studio Tips... in 1978. Both collections have now been combined and revised. For a beginner, this amount of information could be overwhelming but, take heart: most commercial studios don't work like this anymore. For example, the use of rubber cement has been superseded by wax, and both are eliminated in the digital studio. I bought both books when they were first published (together they cost less than the new edition) at a time when our studio was able to take advantage of the helpful advice since most production work was done by hand. Today this same work, and more, is done in front of a computer monitor (such as composing this review, which will be sent via e-mail to Sid Huttner for setting into type for you to read), so the tips no longer have relevance for their original intended audience. But there are calligraphers, marblers, conservators and even a few old-fashioned studio artists who still work with their hands, measuring, marking, cutting, folding, painting, pasting, who would find much of interest here, such as: finding the centre between two points quickly; dividing any line into equal parts without a ruler; how to draw an oval of any size, or tips on making an effective poster. As mentioned, there is one tip (sometimes two) per page which is enough for "shading effects with a burnt cork" but hardly sufficient for "how to make your own typeface." This page consists of a hundred words (or so) from Gray: "First design your alphabet,... and then photostat enough letters to paste into words," followed by another hundred from Shaw: "...there is now another, more flexible, alternative ... three software programs - Fontographer, Font Studio, and Ikarus-M." This is true enough, but digital font design is beyond the skills of most. To be fair, two pages are devoted to "writing calligraphy." There are hundreds of little tips such as proper care of brushes after using acrylic paint, or how to proofread printed copy (with standard proofreaders' marks explained), or how to visualize a design on different backgrounds. There are other, more esoteric bits of information too, such as how to copyfit a manuscript, which will estimate how much physical space a given text would occupy using a certain type size or style, although the necessity for doing so has been superseded by the computer. All in all though, it's a good basic book suitable for someone new to studio crafts, whetheras a first job or as a result of re-training. Perfect as a bathroom book.