Book Cover Legibility Woes

nina's picture

I've been asked to make this little art exhibition catalog for an association I'm a member of. This is pro-bono work, so I can't spend two weeks on it (or license any additional fonts)… and still of course I want it to become at least nice enough to put my name on it.

Below is a sketch for the cover (really rough still). I sent it to the client today, and he said he loves the illustration (which isn't mine btw), but the type is "too hard to read". He suggested Frutiger or something. :-/
I've also asked a few laymen to read out the headline; while some of them read it instantly, others were struggling.

Now consciously inducing (or at least tolerating) legibility problems would not really be something I'd be very proud of; on the other hand though, I feel this book can do with a bit of uncommon design at least on the outside (it's an art book! Come on).

And I guess my main problem is that I'm really badly in love with how Sangue connects to the illustration and seems to "grow" out of the girl's head/brain – which seems to make a lot of sense. So I'd really hate to change the basic concept, or the font.

There's the dilemma. Here's the question:
Do you guys
1) see a chance of changing this in a way that would improve legibility of the title without completely changing the concept?
2) think this sucks, my client's right, and I'm deluded?


nina's picture

Some detail corrections. This looks prefinal to me (up for facing the client again), unless I'm missing something really big?

I know what I'm going to tell the next graphic designer who asks me why the hell I'd be interested to learn something as strange as type design…

eliason's picture

That paid off!

nina's picture

Thanks everyone. I do agree this has grown a lot since I first posted it here.
I almost feel like mentioning Typophile in the colophon. :-)

For the sake of completeness, here's what I just sent out to the client, along with
a lengthy (and quite assertive!) argumentation.
I'll keep you posted.

nina's picture

Just wanted to get back with the news that the client gave his OK, albeit grudgingly (he said his intuition still tells him otherwise). I can't quite shake the suspicion that his reservations might have to do with more than just legibility. Anyway, I'm really glad I can follow this through. (-:

Quincunx's picture

Ah, good news. And you know, clients usually only know what they don't want when they see it. They have no idea what they do want. ;)

cschroeppel's picture

I could read the title only after I realized that it (a) was supposed to be title and (b) that it consisted of letters. So I fully understand that your client worries about legibility. However, that the title is not immediately recognizable or legible on the cover page will not prevent people from finding or reading the catalog. After all, the title will be printed inside the catalog as well (I assume this to be the case). After all, it's an art related work, so lack of legibility is maybe something that draws more interest to the work. -- cs

jupiterboy's picture

Jelmar makes a very good point. I also find people often react poorly initially and later love an idea after they get a good reaction to it. Navigating the trust, well, I have some serious doubts about my own skill in that regard.

nina's picture

How true, Jelmar.
I've been wondering if I should point the client here so he can see some positive reactions to this. Then again, Mojo asked if he smokes crack so maybe not. :->
(Besides the fact it's now accepted anyway; plus he's *very* happy with the inside layout so that helps too.)

Typedog's picture

I like your latest revision the message is clear and directed.


nina's picture

Oh, here's the end result:

(Large version on Flickr)
I think she ended up looking a bit annoyed/pouty. But I'm still really happy with this. :-)
Thanks again, everyone!

Quincunx's picture

Looks fine!

Only thing I would have changed, maybe, is the space between the title and the spine. But that's hindsight. :)

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