Redesigning Texas Classics
By Derek George
By Derek George
Not being a native Texan myself, I’ve had to do my homework since moving here in 2007. There were so many names unfamiliar to me when I first got here, but I’d see them everywhere: Lamar, Travis, Burnet, and Kinky Friedman. Working for UT Press (and reading a few history books) has opened my eyes to the rich history of this state that I now call home.
If you like your history to sound like your old grandpa telling you stories on the front porch at dusk—full of cowboys and outlaws, buried treasures and lost mines—then J. Frank Dobie is your guy. The University of Texas Press keeps J. Frank Dobie’s books in print and as our current stock began to run out, our marketing team decided that it was a good time for a refresh of the design. I was the lucky designer who got to work on the project. As I began brainstorming concepts for the new designs, one of our sales reps at the time, Chris Hoyt, showed me a photo of an old western pulp paperback. I love old pulp paperbacks and immediately gravitated toward this approach. The style seemed to fit well with the Dobie books.
|Drawing inspiration from old Western pulp paperbacks|
A few patient and kind souls at the Harry Ransom Center helped me track down the original art that I wanted to use from the J. Frank Dobie archives here on campus. With the art chosen, it was just a matter of finding the right typography that fit with the western pulp paperback style, but still looked attractive to modern eyes. Since I was designing an entire series at once, I had to plan ahead with colors that go well together as a group, and designed a template that tied them all together. The ribbon with Dobie’s portrait was inspired by a similar treatment on some of the old Dell paperbacks. I like to work with a large pasteboard area in Adobe Illustrator and try out different colors and fonts until I get the combination right.
|Click to enlarge and see the designs progress|
This was a fun project to work on and I hope that the new redesigns can help people see the J. Frank Dobie books in a new way.