Saturday, 28 December 2013

Artist's Book: Surely Not!


In the small page-turning version I can't show the gatefold central spread, so I've added each section as a different page. See below for an image of the fold-out.


The book measures 102mm x 202mm.
Stiched binding, containing 8 pages, a central gatefold on orange card with an orange card cover. 
This book was part of my practice-based PhD on anxiety in advertising.

This book was inspired by the notion that, when looked at closely, smoking a cigarette is a strange activity. The Bob Newhart monologue 'The Introduction of Tobacco to Civilisation' is a case in point. Smoking is not a basic need such as eating or drinking but rather a skill that, once the fundamentals are learnt, requires practice and patience to develop. The "believe-it-or-not" strategy was based loosely on Ripley's regular feature in newspapers and collections from the 'fifties, but the images were developed from cigarette advertisements from the U.S. between 1938-72 and then redrawn to place emphasis on the absurdity of the activity. Grubby marks on the illustrations were enhanced to give the feel the images are 'dirty' as printed.


I composed the text in a style aiming to satirise the short-snappy 'Amazing Facts' tone of children' comics or encyclopedias. Texts aimed at younger readers often seem to convey the anxiety that the reader will tire of a subject should the copy spread to more than 5 lines. I have made sure that the concepts in Surely Not jump breathlessly from theme to theme at high speed never allowing the reader to dwell on one story for long. The font chosen was one resembling a style often employed in comics to give the feeling that the text had been hand written. 'Comic Sans' is heavy and stolid but its informal structure tries desperately to imply jollity. The central gatefold shows the Smoking Beagle, hopefully reminding the reader of the vast number of beagles that were used to test cigarettes (to public outrage in the late eighties). The gatefold was designed to sit on orange heavy weight paper, along with the cover. The main pages were printed on 130g cartridge paper. The orange and white colours are reminiscent of the colours used in marketing a regular cigarette of the period.





This book is held in various permanent collections including:

The V&A Museum, UK

Golda-Meir Library, UWM LIbraries, Milwaukee, USA

The Culture Archive, Brighton, UK

Eton College Library, UK

Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Chicago, USA

The British Library, London, UK

St. Peter's House Library, Brighton, UK

Knights Park Library, Kingston University, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK

Howard Gardens Library, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, South Wales