Page 1: Great Expectations


an unusual typographic experiment designed to explore the relationship between graphic design, typography and the reading of a page. [it] collects the responses of 70 international graphic designers when posed with the same brief – to design and lay out the first page of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a text chosen in part because it directly references lettering as Pip searches for clues about his family from the letterforms inscribed on their tombstone. The brief encouraged the 70 contributors to explore, challenge or celebrate the conventions of book typography. Each layout is accompanied by a short rationale explaining the designer’s decision-making process.

For those unfamiliar with the text, here is a relevant passage:

As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

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Comments

kentlew's picture

Interesting. There was another famous example along similar lines (though nowhere near as extensive) back in 1968 when six well-known book designers were invited by Hammermill Paper Company to design Kafka’s The Trial. A comparison of the results was published as The Trial of Six Designers.

riccard0's picture

I suppose the 1968 experiment could be seen as even more interesting by the fact that the design was for the whole novel!

5star's picture

i've done very little page layout graphic design stuff but from what i've done i've experienced a great opportunity for 'playfulness' (if that's even the right word) within such rigid confines. The Trial of Six Designers is up on my search list tomorrow for sure.

n.

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