A number of designer monographs are being produced as books-on-demand or limited run offset. Two came through just this week. Metaphor: Fifty Five Years of Work and Play by James Cross and Threads of Influence: The Visual History of a Life in Graphic Design by Tom Morin. Both showcase the lives of respected Modernist practitioners. Cross’ is the more familiar to me. I’ve long admired his deft hand and eye. Morin‘s is less known to me, but no less impressive.
The former is more economical in terms of content and heft (144 pages), with one project per page. The latter is packed and hefty (352 pages) with a large dose of explanation and lore.
Attempting to cover a life’s work is not easy – what to leave in and out is a difficult task for any creator. That’s the role of a strict editor. Cross manages the task by limiting both the work and descriptions to smart blurbs. Morin’s is autobiography, professional memoir and collection of recollections from friends and colleagues. Both have merit, but the former is more a portfolio, while the latter is more a testament.
Both these books involved an editor’s hand; but where self-publishing falters is the rigor of editing – knowing when to say enough is enough, and enough is too much.