rob waller

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In praise of Studio Vista, Ken Garland and the good old days

I'm not sure if there is anything around today that is quite like the Studio Vista series of design books published in the 60s. There weren't all that many design books to choose from then, but these were fairly affordable, accessibly written and stocked by our local bookshop - I bought several of them while still at school, and they did a lot to lure me into graphic design.

Here are the ones that survive on my bookshelf - I also remember having Norman Potter's What is a designer, and  John Lewis's Typography: basic principles.

Ken Garland's Graphics handbook was the one that had the most influence on me - it was too early for me to really get the more philosophical books such as Pye or Potter, but Ken's book provided an uncomplicated toolbox, covering everything from semiotics to international paper sizes in just 90-odd pages. And it does have a philosophy, demonstrated through its scope, its timeless layout, and a wonderful preface, which Ken printed in enormous type in the hope it would be read.

I mentioned the influence his book had on me recently to Ken (who I had the immense good fortune to be taught by), and I recalled the photo of him on the back. He pointed out that the book was written so long ago that the little girl he is holding here is now 50.


  1. Paul Linnell3:14 pm

    The Studio Vista titles 'The Computer in Art' (Jasia Reichardt) and 'TV Graphics' (Roy Laughton) have aged more than Garland's daughter. Yet their well-edited and accessible format remains tremendously appealing. Still some good principles in the latter too.

  2. Anonymous1:04 pm

    The Studio Vista books were great for anyone wanting to know about a subject without having to confused, and frankly bored by bigger volumes from other publishers. I gathered a bunch that covered films, art and print. From these well illustrated and comprehensive little books, I learnt about culture to a high degree. In fact it is only with the technology of dvds that I am able to see the films I read about.


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