The prior posts on Tracey Rowledge’s work have focused on her designs mostly inspired by abstract markings. However, there are a few pieces in her portfolio that stand out for their sheer difference in design. The above binding of The Essence of Beeing by Michael Lenehan with illustrations by Alice Brown-Wagner is bound in black goatskin with a gold tooled design.
The second binding featured in this post is a copy of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which was bound by Jen Lindsay in a red native-dyed goatskin with rough-edge gilding. Tracey completed the binding by gold tooling the title in 2012.
Even though letterforms can be viewed as markings in their own right, I wanted to find out why Tracey veered toward a typographic design for these particular bindings.
I love your use of typography as the single design element on these two bindings. The texture you create by overlapping a word or building up a letter with several impressions of a single tool is really genius. What draws you to use typography over the abstract markings you often employ in your designs?
With The Essence of Beeing I was interested in combining my handwriting, the nature of the crosshatched images in the book and the wonderful title, to create an image that was the title – to see how far a fine binding could be simplified in appearance – to see if at first glance it could look like an art book. I don’t know if this makes sense, but to try to explain it another way – I really enjoy the look and feel of a fine binding, but I sometimes wonder if they look to others overly laboured. I was exploring in this work, whether I could remove this element.
Hamlet was bound by Jen Lindsay in 2002 and it came to me in 2012 to be lettered. Although there was a ten year gap in between the time Jen completed the binding and I gold tooled the lettering, it was very much a collaborative process. We felt it was really important that the lettering worked with the incredible grain of the native red goatskin Jen had bound the book in. The Hamlet lettering is gold tooled using Jen’s handwriting, it being uppercase and superimposed, creates an image that also evokes something about Hamlet itself.