In Type to Image, a new book by Marta Cerdà Alimbau, we learn more about how the celebrated designer blurs the lines between typography and illustration. Published by Counterprint, we chat with founder Jon Dowling to get the inside scoop.
Anyone familiar with Cerdà Alimbau's bold and eclectic style will know she enjoys finding a balance between expressive freedom and control in her work. But the two contrasting disciplines of illustration and typography present a challenge, as each requires a different angle. It's why she opts for a multi-disciplinary approach, blending the two – one of trial and error – to create unique pieces that are beautifully functional and full of emotion.
Over the last 14 years, Cerdà Alimbau has offered art direction, design, illustration and custom typography for arts, culture and advertising clients in her native Barcelona and abroad. Clients include Vogue, Spotify, Apple and Converse, to name a few.
Throughout the pages of Type to Image, we see some of these work highlights, including her time at Cooper Union, where she explored and experimented, embarking on a journey from calligraphy to illustration, with various stops along the way. She discusses these many disciplines, how she has tackled them through her work, and how each relates to the other and overlaps. It's a helpful narrative for any creative, encompassing anything from typeface design to digital illustration, book covers, posters, advertorial graphics, wine labels and more.
What's especially appealing is how Cerdà Alimbau narrates each chapter, as though she speaks directly to the reader. It results in a personal, insightful and often surprising peek inside the designer's world, revealing her inspiration and some of the challenges she's faced along the way and the process employed for finding solutions.
One could say that Type to Image results from a designer being unconstrained by which visual medium to explore. It's a book that celebrates creative freedom and the breadth of what can be achieved within graphic design and illustration.
In approaching Cerdà Alimbau to create such a book, Jon Dowling of Counterprint said: "Now we've published a large number of books on design, I can look at the overall offering and see some common threads that bind them together. One of those is the connection between illustration with graphic design. There is a sweet spot where the two can overlap and interconnect to create exciting results.
"As such, I love how Marta's work mixes disciplines to continuously create unpredictable results, especially between typography and illustration. I'm always in awe of people who can continually reinvent how they work. Marta's multi-disciplinary approach sees her working across typeface design to digital illustration, book covers, posters, advertorial graphics, wine labels and so on. We see calligraphy, 3D renderings, moving image work, hand-lettering, traditional illustration, op art and branding all employed. It's dizzying. What strikes me, having worked with her on the design of the book and its cover, is that she's not someone that will do something twice, she seems to gain pleasure from constantly challenging herself, and I find this admirable."
Of all the projects featured, Jon highlights her Vogue cover. "Vogue asked Marta to design her 'dream cover' around the time we were coming out of the global pandemic," explains Jon. "She followed in the footsteps of other artists such as George Plank, Helen Dryden, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí and Carl Erickson, who Vogue has commissioned to create special, non-photographic covers.
"It's my understanding that Marta wanted to create something that suggested the resilience shown during this extremely difficult period in which Covid dominated. It's such an iconic image that you can pour your own meaning into, but for me, it radiates human strength. It's beautiful, meaningful, and the last piece to appear in the book."
Type to Image by Marta Cerdà Alimbau is published by Counterprint and is available to purchase for £35 via www.counter-print.co.uk.
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