The combination of image and text, whether in a book or on an html web page like this, requires balance and a sensitivity to content and the reader.

Design for electronic formats usually requires flexibility for delivery on a variety of screen sizes, mediated by a bewildering number of technical permutations. In comparison, the layout of an illustrated book on printed pages is relatively straightforward. Nevertheless, the relevant and sympathetic correlation of images to the text, with images forming a relationship with other images in terms of size and proximity, requires a full appreciation of the importance of both image and word, and their strength in combination.

The best designers are able to make attractive layouts from unpromising copy and imagery, but good pictures always make the best impact. There are particular benefits in being both the photographer and designer of a book, and more still when writing and designing a book. A designer using their own images has their entire photographic library to choose from, and can select or take photographs to enable certain design ideas. Illustrated books are also usually approached as a text with illustrations, but books about artworks should be books of images with a supporting textual commentary. The words should fit the images, rather than the images fitting around the words.

This has been a founding principle for Sulien Books, publishing books about visual culture with images at their core. The interpretative importance of text remains an essential component of the overall composition, but these books are about pictures.

Spread from The Medieval Grotesques of Gresford.

Sulien Books

art and craft, ancient and modern