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Titel-Lettering von Chris Campe auf dem Cover von »Der Berg Athos« für »Die Andere Bibliothek«

Travel to the 1920s in style

Title lettering for »Die Andere Bibliothek«

In lettering, no two letters are alike, even if they are so carefully drawn that they almost look like a font. But does anyone pay attention to such details at all? I think the readers of »Die Andere Bibliothek« do.

Lettering: From Sketch to Headline

»Der Berg Athos« is the second travelogue by the British dandy Robert Byron. Byron’s first book, »Europa 1925,« had already been published by »Die Andere Bibliothek« and I was asked to create a design for the second book to match the first.

The book design was to be taken over from »Europa 1925«. Again a colorful, historical travel poster was set as the cover motif. But the publisher didn’t want  to use a prefabricated font for the title of the new volume. Instead, they wanted individually design custom lettering. It was my task to develop a letterforms that would match the look and feel of the previous volume and the time of the journey.

Skizzen – Lettering von Chris Campe für »Der Berg Athos« für »Die Andere Bibliothek«

In loose sketches, I try out different styles – capital letters, mixed case, cursive and pseudo-Greek letters with corners instead of curves, like you see on Greek restaurant signs.

About the project

Title

Robert Byron

Der Berg Athos

Reise nach Griechenland

Format

12,7 x 22 cm

Year

2020

Publisher

Die Andere Bibliothek

»This is about the 1920s«

In lettering design, certain graphic codes refer to the 1920s. Narrow letters, for example, are characteristic of many early 20th century typefaces. This was fortunate, since the title and subtitle of the new Byron volume – »Der Berg Athos, Reise nach Griechenland« – are much longer than that of the previous volume, »Europa, 1925.« In order to arrange words in one line, I had to draw the letters  narrower.

The fact that the O is repeated not only in the first name, name and title, but also in the form of the G in the subtitle, was a happy coincidence, too. The circular shape of O and G emphasizes in contrast the narrow shapes of the other letters. Imaginative people might also think of a porthole, the lens of a pair of binoculars, or the monocle of a dandy.

Another characteristic of the typefaces of the 1920s is the shifted center line of the letters: The middle bar of the E and the middle of the B and R are sometimes shifted down and sometimes up, depending on the context in the word. The fact that the crossbar of A, H, and E extends on the left side is also typical. To compensate for the unevenness of the dancing cross strokes, I opted for the calm clarity of a monolinear letterforms, in which the stroke width of the letters is almost the same everywhere. The slight unevenness adds to the charm of hand-drawn type.

Lettering with depth effect

I took the arrangement of the author’s name from the previous volume. By staggering the font sizes from top to bottom, it looks as if the name is further away than the title and the first name even further. This creates an impression of vastness that fits well with the theme.

With the lettering sketches I created several drafts for the cover to decide on a  direction with the production manager Katja Jäger.

Lettering for the chapter headings

Once we decided on the font style and stroke width, I drew several skeleton variants for each letter. Then I traced the letters onto a sheet of transparent paper and combined them to form the words of the headlines.

Skizzen – Lettering von Chris Campe für »Der Berg Athos« für »Die Andere Bibliothek«

I draw the letters with a soft felt-tip pen, then I sharpen the edges with a fineliner.

Titel-Lettering von Chris Campe auf dem Cover von »Der Berg Athos« für »Die Andere Bibliothek«

The title page shows the lettering from the cover again. Even without the cover motif, the different sizes of the words and their arrangement on the page suggest depth.