A Shot at Mailshot

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An opportunity to help with a mailshot at Floris Books was offered to me and the invitation to get paper cuts whilst stuffing envelopes was surprisingly appealing. This could have had something to do with my passion for children’s books and my excitement to see the insides of a working children’s publishing house. Floris Books publish in two main areas; they are the largest children’s book publisher in Scotland and have an adult non- fiction list that harks back to the publisher’s origins. Their Kelpies imprint specialises in children’s books with Scottish themes, authors and illustrators. A few members of the Floris sales and marketing team came and spoke to us at Napier, so from the knowledge of the publishing house and having heard from the friendly team, I was delighted to spend an afternoon with them.

What stood out to me as I arrived at the cosy office was the friendly and welcoming environment. There was bunting strung up around the lively open-plan office and colleagues were in quiet discussion. The different teams, editorial, production, sales and marketing, were grouped around the office, able to focus on their own tasks but just as able to call over and discuss with each other. I was introduced to the small, efficient team and was made to feel very welcome for the afternoon ahead.

With a cup of tea to sip on, I helped one of the girls from sales and marketing with the mailshot. Armed with boxes of catalogues, an array of envelopes and an organised mailing system we set to filling the orders. I was delegated the overseas orders and was astounded by how far and wide the catalogues were going; from the USA to Singapore to Australia. Their mailing list consisted of faithful customers and suppliers, some of which I recognised from discussions in class, such as Gardeners Books wholesalers. Along with the Floris Books and Kelpies catalogues, we were sending out folders of AI sheets. Having worked on my own AI sheet as a class project, I felt proud that I could take a peek at these with an informed opinion and knowledge. The AI sheets were sent to suppliers and retailers who would be interested in knowing more about the books featured in the catalogues. What also stood out to me was that in November the publishers were sending out spring/summer catalogues. This demonstrated the organisation and constant forward thinking that publishers need, to stay relevant and responsive to their markets. This organisation was seen even down to sizing the envelopes so that postal expenses were kept to a minimum. Such management skills are necessary for this publishing house as they are producing around 60 books a year.

 

As we were filling and sealing envelopes I was able to pick their brains and ask any question that popped into mine. As we made our way through the orders, different questions arose that enabled me to understand the operations and processes within the house. I asked about whether their content was selected through commissions or submissions and I was told that actually most of Floris’ books are from translations that they buy the rights to at fairs. I also got an insight into the roles that the sales and marketing team perform. It became clear that ‘Marketeers’, as they like to call themselves at Floris Books, are required to turn their hands to many tasks and skills. As I have heard from many speakers there is no one route to a career in publishing, and the staff at Floris Books all have their own unique journeys to working there. It was apparent that all teams in the office come together on many tasks and projects and that there is also a lot of crossover between roles. I was also told, and was thankful to hear, that there is a lot of learning on the job. I truly believe that I will learn so much from experiencing and working in publishing houses through placements. I am determined to make the most of any opportunities, no matter how big or small, offered to me, where I can meet people in the industry and see for myself how it all works.

This experience with Floris Books enhanced a lot of the aspects of publishing I have learnt about through the Masters at Napier. It was an invaluable opportunity to speak to a member of a children’s publishing house and see how even a small part of the job, like mailshotting, can be revealing and educational in how a publisher operates. Through being able to ask questions, not only did I get valuable insights into this publisher’s processes and demands, but also realised how my own knowledge and understanding of the industry has grown significantly since undergoing my Masters; I was considering aspects of publishing that before studying at Napier, would not have occurred to me. My afternoon at Floris Books and first shot at a mailshot was highly enjoyable, in meeting the team and getting a glimpse at a working children’s publishing house.

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Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story

Today I visited the exhibition Fully Fashioned: The Pringle of Scotland Story, celebrating 200 years of Pringle. Pringles of Scotland is an established fashion brand that has specialized in knitwear since 1815. The exhibition included original designs and garments from the 1800s up to present day. The clothing ranged from casual jumpers, to sporting outfits to underwear.

Original woollen underwear and drying board.
Original woollen underwear and drying board.

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Pringle originally produced knitted under garments for men and women, which were breathable, comfortable and warm. The thing that struck me when looking at the undergarments was that they were not at all what one would expect of woollen underwear: itchy, bulky and unflattering. On the contrary, Pringles woollen undergarments were delicate, soft and attractive. The revelation at the time was that Pringles undergarments  featured boning at the waist, knitted lace decorations, as well as having the option of built in ‘filets’ to give the impression of a bigger bust. A drying board was on display which explained after the milling process the garments were laid on it to control the exact size and shape they dried to.

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The exhibition then led you round to later garments, including the classic two pieces. These matching tops and cardigans have become iconic for the 1950s. Other designs from the 1950s included ladies woollen jumpers with diamonte decoration. These designs reminded me of designs from last year seen in highstreet shops. I find it very interesting how fashion comes back around.

Golfing jumper
Golfing jumper
Skiing outfit.
Skiing outfit.

As well as producing fashionable clothing for everyday use Pringle are also well known for their Golfing jumpers which feature the classic golfing diamond pattern. Another sporting outfit that was displayed was a Skiing outfit. The salopettes were made by another designer but the jumper was made by Pringle to be worn specifically with them.

One of my favourite features of the exhibition was the fashion illustrations and advertisments displayed beside the garments. The drawings were elegant and recognisable to the fashion of the time. The illustrations gave an idea of the design process. I really enjoyed seeing the vision of the designers in the illustrations being translated into the finished garments.

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Stuart Beaty, a designer for Pringle, said ‘Classical knitwear is and will be our statement of perfection’ (1971). This has clearly been the standards for Pringle since it was established. Pringles renowned style and quality has allowed the brand to last 200 years and change with the times. The quality is one aspect that has never been jeopardised since Pringles within the woollen designs.

‘Winnie the what?’ by John Donegan

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The First Issue of Punch Magazine 1841

Punch Magazine Cartoons (1841- 2002) were notorious for covering political, social and current topics in interesting and persuasive ways. They published many talented Illustrators and introduced the term ‘cartoon’. The Punch cartoon archive is fascinating and acts as an important document of the years in which they were published. A common feature in all the Punch Cartoons is the humour. The Illustrator relays the message in a funny and subtle way, which relies on the viewer having a basic prior knowledge on the topic. This makes the cartoons very enjoyable to read as the humour takes a while to develop as the subtle joke becomes apparent. An exciting way to discover these illustrations is the Punch Cartoons greetings cards. This is how I have come across my personal favourite Punch Cartoon.

The Cartoon, ‘Winnie the what?’ by John Donegan, was published in 1987. The Illustration shows a family of huge grizzly bears lounging against a tree in a forest. The bear cub is talking to a small teddy bear exclaiming ‘Winnie the what?’. It is now you look at the little white bear more closely and make the connection that he is actually Winnie the Pooh. This cartoon is poking fun at the funny name of A.A Milnes bear, and requires the reader to have that knowledge.

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The drawing is done in ink and pencil and has a very quiet mood. This is created by using no colours, and the sleepy positions of the bears. There is very little movement in the illustration which adds to the awkward humour of Winnie being questioned about his name.

The composition and tone also reads well, left to right. You first look at the dark grizzly bears on the left, then to the text. Once reading the question you then look at the small pale bear, and making the connection of Winnie the Pooh, laugh. The use of light and dark to portray the characters is done cleverly. The big grizzly bears being dark and scratchy make them seem wild and rough. On the other hand Winnie the Pooh looks angelic and innocent as he is small and pale in comparison. The curving shape of the frame leads the viewer’s eye around the illustration in the correct order too.

This is a very successful cartoon which makes a very funny and sweet greetings card. The pacing of the humour is crucial to this cartoons charm and the illustration sets this pace perfectly.

Basic and Sumberac’s ‘Snow White’.

Zdenko Basic and Manuel Sumberac, originally animators, make up the illustration duo that create fantastically striking picture books that are dark and stylised. Their background in animation can be seen through their use of 3D looking characters and sets, as well as the dramatic sense of motion and atmosphere in their illustrations.

IMG_0317Stella Gurneys ‘Snow White’ is illustrated by Basic and Sumberac. For this classic fairytale they created wonderful illustrations full of detail and strong narrative. They have a very distinct style, particularly in their character designs. All the people are very long and tall, with spindly limbs and large heads. With their pale skin and hollow eyes there is a feel of Tim Burtons’ unmistakable style to them. Basic and Sumberac use colour very cleverly in this book as they use it to set the mood and atmosphere of the story. During the more sinister parts of the story they use dark and moody colours to create a sense of danger, and in the happier parts of the tale like the ending they use softer pastel colours to show that all is well.

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Basic and Sumberac make use of texture and collage in all of their illustrations. Throughout the book they use subtle paint splatters and old looking parchment to create a textured antiquey surface. Collage is used a lot but also very subtly. Some real animals, food and objects are collaged into the illustrations, but because of their 3D and serial nature it is not very obvious.

IMG_0329IMG_0322I feel this a good example of a post modern picture book, as it includes quirky extras to the story. Such features are the framed character profiles at the beginning of the book and small books you can flick through within the story, like the dwarves family photo album and the evil queens spell book. There is also a precious gem to be found in every scene.

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Final Pop Up Scene

This engaging book also includes flaps to open, wheels to spin and a fantastic pop- up scene on the final page. These interactive elements are very appealing to children and make them enjoy the story on another level. Basic and Sumberac are obviously very good at digital work too, as I believe they use it in all of their illustrations to adjust the colours, lighting, depth and textures.

Their enchanting and impressive illustrations make this version of the classic tale of Snow White edgy and modern. This picture book I feel is aimed at older children as the story is lengthy but mostly because there is a maturity to the illustrations with underlying darker tones.  I love their stylistic designs and envy their subtle use of texture and collage.

‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ illustrations by John Burningham

I adore children’s picture books but I have not had much experience with children’s novel illustrations. One brilliant example of this genre is ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Magical Car’ by Ian Flemming and illustrated by John  Burningham. Childrens novels are aimed at children aged between 9 and 12, so the illustrations have to be mature enough to appeal to the older children but at the same time still be exciting enough to engage them. John Burningham does this extremely well through his interesting and expressive illustrations.ChittyChittyBangBang

The cover of the book reminds me of modernist poster with the bright, bold colours and asymmetrical compostition. The typography and layout is also very modernist and simple. I love the wrap around illustration and how the car continues round onto the back.This stylized illustrations is true throughout the book.

spot 1spot 2Throughout the novel Burningham uses both spot illustrations and double page spreads where appropriate in relation to the text. The main media used is ink which he applies very freely yet still with consideration. He uses different mark making to create texture and atmosphere.

ill 2The majority of the spot illustrations are in black and white, but Burningham uses colour in various ways in the double spreads. In some illustrations he uses spot colour and applies it is different ways. This can clearly be seen in the illustration here. The tone of the green changes as well as how the colour is applied; flat or textured. This creates a very dynamic and textural image that works well with the subject if the garage.

chittyCollage is also a technique that is very prominent in Burninghams work. He uses tinted black and white photographs to build on top off with drawings and paint. I think the collage is really effective and interesting and adds another dimension to the illustrations. The inclusion of the photographs makes the illustrations more grown up which would appeal to the audience of older children.

There is one page where there is no text and the open page is a double spread illustration. These variations in the size and format of the illustrations make it an engaging book to read as every page is different so keeps the young reader interested. I really like John Burninghams illustrations and think they are very appropriate for the story and audience. His combination of photos and drawings is very interesting and he manages to bridge the gap between the two very subtly and with great style.

Astrid Jaekels’ Meadow Murals

Astrid Jaekels public art can be found scattered throughout Edinburgh, her most recent being the 5 murals on the meadows. With these pieces she transformed a tired, graffitied wall into interesting and eye- catching pieces of art.Taking inspiration from the history of the meadows Astrid collaborated with the poet Rachel Woolf to create these murals which reflect on the folklore of the time. The 5 illustrated murals work all together as a collection but are also very strong when viewed individually.mural 3

Each mural makes use of organic flowing lines and art- nouveau like shapes. It is clear that paper cutting is the primary technique used for these murals. As a result the shapes and lines are clean and strong and the negatives spaces are very important in two muralscreating detail. Text and typography also plays an important part in each illustration. The path names and titles of the panels are written in the frames of each mural, separate from the illustrations. Whereas the words of the poem are intertwined with the characters in the designs but are still clear to read. A limited palette of fresh colours is used in interesting combinations, varying on each mural. The backgrounds are all a light blue, like that seen on a hazy spring day in Edinburgh. On top of the blue each mural has one or two spot colours on certain characters or aspects the artist wished to emphasize.  A dark brown is used for many of the illustrations and all the text. I like the use of a brown rather than black as it makes the lines less harsh and gives the pieces a more natural feel. The white spaces play an important part in these murals as they provide calm block shapes within the busy line work and bright colours.

I find the dimensions of the murals very appealing, as they are large enough to get passer- bys attention but at the same time are not too big that they look out of place. The long landscape canvas allows the story to flow from left to right smoothly. This makes the murals very easy to read as your eye follows the illustrations and words across the space. The animated characters and descriptive poem make the narrative very apparent in the murals.

300470-meadows-mural-astrid-jaekelI am very fond of Astrid Jaekels’ murals on the meadows and enjoy spotting something new every time I pass them. I think that these murals would appeal to a wide range of the public: children would be engaged with the friendly characters and bright colours, whilst adults can appreciate them as works of art and be intrigued by the history present in each piece. This public art has brightened middle Meadow walk and transformed a boring grey wall into engaging story- telling canvas.

The National Trust Teatime Baking Book

A book form that is becoming more and more popular is the Illustrated Cook Book. My favourite recipe book I own is The National Trust Teatime Baking Book (Good Old Fashioned Recipes) by Jane Pettigrew. Although I love the yummy puddings and cakes within, what really appeals to me is the book design.

Examples of 1950's cookbooks.
Examples of 1950’s cookbooks.

The cover instantly attracted me with retro aesthetic and illustrated design. The layout and font is quite traditional and along with the use of 4 pastel colours, these features give the book the book a 1950’s feel.

A salmon pink, muted teal and two shades of muted blue are used. I like the selected colours and find this limited palette for the covers very effective as the simple, retro appearance would stand out from other cookbooks which so often use photographs.

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Front and Back Covers

The Illustrations on the cover have strong lines, clean shapes and block colours. Each drawing has been reduced down to the simplest form needed to portray the utensils, cakes and ingredients. There is also a clever use of negative shapes which can be seen in the bread illustration.

The endpapers

 

The end papers use the same illustrations on the cover but change the black for white lines and use a lighter shade than the teal paper it is printed on. There is no repeating pattern seen, instead the images are randomly repeated and put together. I think the 3 tone colours on the endpapers are really sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing.

 

 

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Chapter headings

The inside contents on the book features photographs of the baked goods, but each chapter heading is a soft coloured page with white writing and a small decorative leaf underneath. The pages with the recipes throughout vary in colour, all keeping to the muted palette. If the paper is a colour the writing is white and/or black, and if the paper is white the writing is black and/or a colour. The continuity of the colour throughout the book makes it appear as a high quality book that has a very considered design. The physical weight and book- cloth feel of the book also add to its quality.

I think the design is very attractive and can see it appealing to bakers of all ages, as retro aesthetics are back in fashion. However I do think this book may be more focused towards woman as the pastel colours are very feminine. This would significantly reduce sales, however maybe the assumption that predominantly women like to bake, ensures this books success.