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Steven McCarthy, MFA smccarthy@umn.edu 612 624-1729 address
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college of design university of minnesota

black baskerville book

black baskerville book

black baskerville book

black baskerville

black baskerville book detail

black baskerville letterpress

 

Black Baskerville began as this original project proposal, titled Healing the Eye: The Two Types of Baskerville:

John Baskerville is known to historians of design as an 18th century English printer and typographer. He enjoyed the support of Ben Franklin in the face of criticism over his type design’s contrasting strokes, which some claimed could “hurt the eye.” Eventually the printer for the Cambridge University Press, he has since been appreciated by countless readers who have read texts in his enduring typeface Baskerville.

Although viewed as a classic, bookish typeface, Baskerville continues to inspire. In 1996, Emigre’s Zuzana Licko, a pioneer of digital typography, re-interpreted the font as Mrs Eaves – named after Baskerville’s lover Sarah Eaves. The redesign and naming strategy give voice to what was once history’s marginalia.

My mother’s maiden name is Baskerville, but there is not yet a known relationship. She descended from African slaves on a Mecklenburg County, Virginia plantation owned by generations of Baskervilles.

Through visual research into these dual Baskervilles – the eminent typographer and the slave plantation – I plan to create designs that will tell the story of two places and times, a convergence of forgotten history and distinctive typography. Enabled by site visits and original documentation, the Baskervilles will reunite.

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Black Baskerville is a limited edition artist’s book researched, designed, photographed and written by Steven McCarthy.

Each main page of Black Baskerville has an image related to John Baskerville’s life butted against an image from the Virginia Baskervilles; explanatory texts caption the photos.

The photos and text are inkjet printed onto archival Arches paper using a Canon MP640R at 9600 dpi setting. The ‘bigrams’ (letter pairs) are created from a font of Baskerville Bold Italic lowercase, and machined into end-grain maple blocks for letterpress printing. These glyphs spell out words related to the book’s themes.

Black Baskerville is limited to an edition of four handmade books, trim-sized 11.5 x 7 x 1". As an accordian structure, the book’s 18 pages open to over ten feet; all pages are hinged with archival-grade linen tape. It is case bound in Japanese binding cloth with boards front, back and spine, and the accordian signature tips in to the back cover.

recent work
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college of design university of minnesota

 

college of design university of minnesota