The NGV has published an exciting new range of gift books – Dashing Dogs, Curious Cats and Flourishing Flowers – just in time for Christmas! Each title is a visual delight that unearths much-loved and little-known gems in the Gallery’s vast collection, as well as anecdotes on the artists and works featured. Jasmin Chua, Publications Manager, spoke to Trisha Garner, the talented designer of the book series.
Can you tell us briefly about your background?
I’m a Kiwi who crossed the Tasman more than twenty years ago to study graphic design in Melbourne. My love of books cultivated an interest in book design, and that has been my primary focus over the last ten years.
How did your design inspiration for the gift book series come about?
The fact that the books were intended to be gifts immediately sparked the idea of precious objects, wrapped up in beautiful gift paper. On a subliminal level, I heard the dreamy tones of Sarah Vaughan singing ‘My Favourite Things’: brown paper packages tied up with string. It all seemed to reinforce the concept of the book design looking like a gift, complete with a gift tag (printed on the cover to contain the title) and wrapping paper folded cleverly to form the book jacket.
Can you tell us about the process of designing the jacket (which impressively folds out to become gift-wrapping paper)?
Determining the folds of the jacket took a long time. It was imperative that the artist’s work was cropped perfectly when folded and that the subtitle was positioned centrally on the cover. I created many mini mock-ups in working this out. I find that nothing beats a physical mock-up to determine how to layout the artwork; in this case, the challenge was to ensure the jacket folded up correctly!
Was there anything unique about designing with reproductions of art?
There were definitely unique boundaries to work within. It was paramount that the design respected the work of art. My initial idea was to create a pattern for the gift-paper-jacket by rotating and repeating the works of art – perhaps a natural inclination for a designer, but not so respectful of the works. Placing a work upside down was completely out of the question. In the end, the design was resolved by making sure that each work of art appeared in its entirety on the unfolded jacket.
I know you’re not meant to say so, but do you have a favourite between Curious Cats, Dashing Dogs and Flourishing Flowers?
It’s like children. Of course, if I was to have a favourite it would be Curious Cats. What can I say? I’m a cat person!
Curious Cats, Dashing Dogs and Flourishing Flowers are all available in the NGV Shop for $19.95 each.