The Power of Design

‘Sir. I am new to DA, so I do not know if you publish comments. Nevertheless … One sentence in DA 63 calls for comment. Brian Donnelly wrote, about the Hudson’s Bay company redesign, ‘Indeed, the power of design might even rely on the absence of its creators, as its relative anonymity focuses on the audience and erases the desire to understand ”what the designer meant” [p.94]. ‘Might’? Of course! Design serves some purpose, otherwise it is not design, for design that shows itself serves its own purpose and is art. Design must definitely not detract from but, rather, must be subservient to the purpose of the object. Consider books. Books are published to sell a story, or to argue a point. The design, then, must help sell that story or argument. Design that stands out is bad design because it interferes with the purpose of the book. Thus, the best designed books are those where the design is not evident. As only people in the trade, in which cast (caste?) I include critics, and aficionados — hobbyists, essentially — read credits, consequently the best designers are and should be generally anonymous. Which is a cruel irony: no-one should notice your best work! This is true beyond books, too.’ — Gordon D. Jomini, Fredericton.

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The Devil's Artisan is remarkable in Canadian publishing in that most of the physical production of our journal is completed in-house at the shop on the Main Street of Erin Village. We print on a twenty-five inch Heidelberg KORD, typically onto acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. The sheets are then folded, and sewn into signatures on a 1907 model Smyth National Book Sewing machine.

To take a virtual tour of the pressroom, visit us at YouTube for a discussion of offset printing in general, and the operation of a Heidelberg KORD in particular. Other videos include Four Colour Printing, Smyth Sewing and Wood Engraving. Photographs of production machinery used on these pages were taken by Sandra Traversy on site at the printing office of the Porcupine's Quill, December 2008.

The Devil's Artisan would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Magazine Fund (CMF) through the Support for Arts and Literary Magazines (SALM) component toward our editorial and production costs. Thanks, as well, for the generosity of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Sleeman Brewing Company.