Kat Ran Press, in concert with the Katherine Small Gallery (Sommerville, Mass.), recently published the second in the gallery's Design Brief series (with two more to follow, "pandemic permitting").
Perplex, Abstract & Delight: A Few Covers by Audrey Meyer, An Appreciation by Mary Yang (designed by Michael Russeum of Kat Ran) is a small jewel of printing and design history. It introduces the rediscovered mid-century modernism of Meyer (b. 1936), who was art director for the University of Washington Press from 1963–2007. Although skilled in many media, during the '60s and early '70s, Yang notes, "some of Meyer's work followed a consistent graphic style, utilizing geometric shapes, iconography, patterns and type-as-image."
The project began when Yang, who began working as a designer at the University of Washington Press in 2017, discovered a cache of vintage covers. One of them, Power in Men by Joyce Cary, stood out from the more photo-based literal work created for the press. Yang was taken by a cover design set in Futura Black inside squared-off, equally spaced bars of fluorescent purple, orange and blue. This lead her to seek out the designer: Audrey Meyer.
As the Katherine Small Gallery website writes, "Believe it or not, we don’t know everything." (A truism that bedevils most graphic design documentarians and historians.) "We’d never even heard of Audrey Meyer when we came across an Instagram post with one of her covers—but we were charmed. That’s good, we thought. So we asked Mary Yang to dig deeper and introduce us (and you) to the work of this designer worthy of more attention."
Here are a few covers from Meyer's 44-year career.