BOOK FOR REAL
Emma Thomas and Kirsty Carter reveal the process and thinking behind the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibition’s companion catalogue The design of the publication was actually the starting point of the whole project, as this was the aspect we worked on first. We took a stripped back approach to the catalogue’s design, allowing the work to sit at the forefront of each page. The book incorporates images of works alongside facsimilies of many of the documents, articles, clippings, notes and ephemeral content included within the exhibition. It also features rare photography and previously unpublished material.
Titles in the book are set in helvetica neue extended, playing with the proportions of words in Basquiat’s work. Contrastingly, the essays are set in sabon, a legible serif typeface that gives the content a more academic aesthetic. The essay text often contained quotations of text that appear in Basquiat’s works, which were fully capitalised. They looked odd when set in sabon. For this text we used neue haas grotesk regular instead, a neutral-feeling sans-serif that complimented the visual weight of sabon more effectively than helvetica neue could. This was important to not break reader flow.
Ephemeral material was highlighted using full-bleed yellow backgrounds on pages at the end of each section, echoing the disruptive wall colour used in the exhibition.
Most previous catalogue covers incorporate a busy crop of one of his paintings, which is difficult to lay text over. We wanted to tap into Basquiat’s playful side, and after coming across black and white photographs of him working, we knew that this had to be the book cover. There’s so much energy, and he doesn’t appear selfconscious as with other images of him. The cover text was screen printed over the top in a nod to the way that Basquiat himself layered and used different materials.