Art + Design

From the Design Desk: SF’s Center for the Book


The San Francisco Center for the Book is a unique nonprofit devoted to teaching the many arts and crafts that go into making books by hand. They have an amazing collection of manual presses, letterpress type, and other bookbinding tools. This year they published two artists’ books as part of their Small Plates series, Imprint, the Center’s publishing program.

Last week we went to the publication party for Rabbitpox, which is written, designed, illustrated, and bound by Allison Weiner. Housed in a box slipcase, Rabbitpox was set in Century Schoolbook.

Rabbitpox is based on a true story in which rabbits are the heroes and the pawns in a scheme of biological warfare.

I love the simple two-color design and the minimal graphic approach. It’s a bold, controlled, and high-contrast design. Rabbitpox is available for purchase in the Center’s Etsy store.

We saw two other artist books on display: John Hersey’s Thumb War and Daniel Gonzales’ Bichos del Campo—one very playful and the other a more traditional direction. Artist Michael Bartalos posted some cool process shots in this great post on his blog.

Even if you’re not already into bookmaking, it’s hard not to get the urge to play with all the cool presses at The Center for the Book. You can take classes on so many paper-based arts—from linoleum printmaking to wood engraving, letterpress, and even Polaroid transfers!

These large-format prints were printed during the center’s annual steamroller Roadworks fair. The above work is by selected artists, but anyone can have their linoleum print pressed by the steamroller for $10.

I can’t wait to sign up for the “Printing on Tabletop Platen Press” class and learn to use these beauties. Designing books is only part of the fun.

Suzanne LaGasa

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