A Book as Real as a Magazine


I’ve always thought about my Sydney Opera House book as a magazine. It’s built up from several stapled booklets. Each chapter is its own booklet and the Reg Mombassa illustrations are contained in their own booklet with a feature I’ve written on his art and music, a 20 page magazine bound into the book.

I always wanted the typography to be alive, not the usual dense chunks of text that are in novels & non fiction books. I imagine that people will read this book by casually picking a chapter at random, as you do when reading magazines. Each chapter is self contained. They can be read in any order.

I’m hugely inspired by typography as its own art … Fabien Baron’s graceful and elegant extreme magnification of individual letters in Harpers Bazaar spreads … pull quotes as punch lines in Esquire of the 1970s … David Carson’s perverse assemblages of type for Ray Gun … Everything Emigre magazine did, mixing different fonts, and breaking up columns of text and pull quote overlays.

I can’t claim to be bringing anything new, special, or even accomplished to this in a design sense, but I’m proud of my writing, which is more polished and unusual than anything I’ve ever written. I have the good fortune to have residual skills from the analog world, absorbed from exceptional features editors, copy editors, art departments, fact checkers, that I can call upon to make my own work rigorous.

This first edition of my book, limited only to 200 copies, is my portrait of the Sydney Opera House as a living thing in its purest form. Future editions will be more commercially polished but these first expressions are what I’m building my business upon. Helping artists and musicians get to the first step in making something real from which everything else can expand.

I couldn’t have done this book without Canva as a design tool. I’ve blundered around using a lot of trial and error, but in trying to make pieces of text billow like the titanium planes of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, I’ve come close enough for my liking. No doubt there are more efficient ways to use the tool, and I’ll discover them as I go along but for now each page I put together makes the book become more and more real. And that’s enormously encouraging.


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